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Wendake, October 26 , 2023 — In response to the recommendActions of the report of the Special Commission on the Rights of the Child and Youth Protection, unveiled in 2021, the Quebec government is announcing today a bill aimed at creating the Commissioner for Children’s Welfare and Rights, supported by a d eputy c ommissioner dedicated to the well being and rights of Indigenous children.
For the Assembly of First Nations Quebec Labrador (A F NQL) and the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Health and Social Services Commission (FNQLHSSC), this recommendAction , which was initially though t to be very promising for First Nations children and families , is turning out to be disappointing
“The conclusions of the President of the Commission, Régine Laurent, were nevertheless clear: the deputy commissioner dedicated to the well-being and rights of Indigenous children must be independent to restore a certain level of trust in a system that is fundamentally failing us. The bill presented today instead makes this commissioner an assistant to the Quebec commissioner. Not only does the Legault government not listen to First Nations, it also does not respect the recommendActions of the commissioner that he himself appointed,” denounced Ghislain Picard, Chief of the AFNQL.
“There are two competing visions. On the one hand, the Laurent Commission report insists on the importance of supporting First Nations’ desire to decide for themselves and, on the other hand, Legault government is challenging the constitutionality of An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families before the Supreme Court,” added Derek Montour, President of the FNQLHSSC Board of Directors.
The two organizations are pointing out that, more than ever, voices are being raised to ask the Legault government to respect First Nations’ right to self-determination, but it persists in denying this right. A first step that should be taken is to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to respect the jurisdiction of First Nations.