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Supreme Court of Canada Decision: Victory for First Nations’ Right to Self-government

Press Release

OTTAWA, ON, Feb. 9, 2024- After more than a year of deliberation, the Supreme Court of Canada has confirmed the validity of An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families (C-92), a ruling eagerly awaited by First Nations. At stake in this legal battle, which began in 2021, was a major issue: the Aboriginal right to self-government in matters of First Nations child and family services.

On this historic day, the Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL), Ghislain Picard, stated: “We have always been unwavering in our conviction that we, First Nations, must take over the welfare of our youth. We must keep in mind that our children are the core and vital component of this day.”

Chief Picard added: “The principles set out in the Act, including cultural continuity, substantive equality, and the best interests of the Indigenous child, are valid; they represent minimum standards to be met across the country, and provincial governments and their structures must comply with them. As a result, we expect the Quebec authorities to implement the provisions of Bill C–92, so that genuine co-development and collaboration can begin.”

“We are pleased that the Supreme Court of Canada recognizes the principle of the Indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination as well as their ability to intervene in matters of child protection. Today, our children are the clear winners of a decision designed to change the dynamic between First Nations and other levels of government,” said Jean-Claude Mequish, Chief of Opitciwan.

Derek Montour, President of the Board of Directors of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Health and Social Services Commission (FNQLHSSC), also had a few words to share: “This ruling reiterates the message we have been emphasizing for years – that First Nations are best placed to ensure the wellness of their own populations. After years of legal challenges and jurisdictional disputes, we can now focus fully on what matters to our nations: providing quality and equitable services to our families and ensuring a bright future for our children.”

Given that many First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities, organizations, and groups have been eagerly awaiting this ruling, it’s a safe bet that many of them will soon be moving ahead with the development and implementation of their own laws, following in the footsteps of Opitciwan and other communities across the country.

For more information, please see the Supreme Court of Canada decision 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.

SOURCE Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador

For further information: Éric Duguay, AFNQL, Media relations, e.duguay@seize03.ca, 514-377-1980 – www.apnql.com; Maude Sigouin, FNQLHSSC, Communications and Social Media Advisor, msigouin@cssspnql.com, 418-930-0735- www.cssspnql.com

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