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WENDAKE, QC, Oct. 4, 2023 – Four years after the tabling of the report of the Public Inquiry Commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples and certain public services in Québec: listening, reconciliation and progress (Viens Commission) and its 142 calls for action, today the Québec Ombudsman revealed its findings and assessment regarding their implementation. According to the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) and the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Health and Social Services Commission (FNQLHSSC), the Québec Ombudsman’s recommendations echo the demands that have been made by First Nations for many years, particularly in matters of discrimination, self-determination, rights, and access to services.
In this sense, Ghislain Picard, Chief of the AFNQL, affirmed that “recognizing the right of First Nations to govern themselves in addition to co-construction efforts is essential to ensuring the full implementation of the calls for action of the Viens Commission. Reconciliation between the Quebec government and First Nations cannot be achieved without listening and respect. A comprehensive and long-term strategy must be co-developed to ensure follow-up on the work and adequate prioritization of the recommendations. Our governments are ready to take on these challenges and expect nothing less from the Quebec government.”
“Of the 64 calls to action regarding health services, social services and youth protection services, only 14 have been or are in the process of being implemented. Yet, prevention of discrimination is one of our priorities, and should also be one of Quebec’s priorities to avoid future tragedies. We just need to think of Joyce Echaquan’s family and loved ones. Also, major changes must be made within government institutions to improve service access and quality and eliminate all forms of racism and discrimination,” added Derek Montour, President of the FNQLHSSC Board of Directors.
“The AFNQL Council of Elected Women has taken note of the report presented today by the Québec Ombudsman and thanks it for its contribution to the wellness of First Nations. The Council of Elected Women will be keeping an eye on the Quebec government beyond the recommendations of the Viens Commission, and will ensure that the First Nations population is, in all circumstances, treated with respect in all Quebec public services,” declared Nadia Robertson, Gespeg councillor and spokesperson for the AFNQL Council of Elected Women.
Furthermore, both organizations are adding their voices to that of the Québec Ombudsman and are urging the Quebec government to recognize and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which represents a minimum guarantee for First Nations.
For more information, see the report of the Québec Ombudsman by clicking here.
About the AFNQL
The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador is the political organization that brings together 43 Chiefs of the First Nations in Quebec and Labrador.
About the FNQLHSSC
The First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Health and Social Services Commission is a non-profit organization that supports Quebec First Nations in achieving their objectives in terms of health, wellness, culture, and self-determination.
For further information: Francis Verreault-Paul, AFNQL, Chief of Staff, email@example.com, 514-546-7878 – www.apnql.com; Maude Sigouin, FNQLHSSC, Communications and Social Media Advisor, firstname.lastname@example.org, 418-842-1540, ext. 2307 – www.cssspnql.com