Quebec First Nations push for more self-determination

Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador chiefs have agreed for their communities to take steps to further assert their right to self-determination.

It comes as a result of frustration with what the chiefs see as the Legault government’s lack of respect and an unwillingness to work with them as equal partners.

“The basis of it is really as assessment made by the chiefs on the whole issue of consultation, where Quebec is failing miserably and they have for quite some time,” said Ghislain Picard, Chief of Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador.

“The chiefs at our regular meetings have said, you know, we receive tons of consultations from government with very little time to react, and really no consideration for the fundamental rights that we represent.”

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The move means communities will be going further in governing themselves for laws, resources and economic development.

Grand Chief of Kahnawake Kahsennehawe Sky-Deer said the era of “being governed and not considered equals” is coming to an end.

“ has legislated for us and considered us subordinates,” Sky-Deer said on Thursday during the conference. “We need to move past structures like the Indian Act and other colonial laws that affect our people.”

“First Nations are distinct peoples with fundamental rights,” said Picard, “which include self-determination and self-government.”

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Picard pointed to last November’s two-day conference called Grand Economic Circle of Indigenous Peoples and Quebec where Premier François Legault was invited to speak, as an example of the lack of respect he feels Legault has for First Nations.

At the time, chiefs blasted Legault for refusing to meet with them and limiting them to three questions at the end of his speech.

“Fifteen minutes, not even responding to the questions that were raised to him,” Picard recalled.  He completely missed the points that were made by chiefs.”

An office of self-determination and self-governance will be established to help communities achieve this goal.

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