Former Minister Sylvie d’Amours alone cannot bear “the odious government inaction” in Aboriginal affairs, reacted the Atikamekw nation following the demotion of the latter.
• Read also: Ian Lafrenière appointed Minister of Indigenous Affairs
• Read also: Systemic racism: “I don’t want a war of words”
While congratulating the former spokesperson for the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal, Ian Lafrenière, on his appointment as Minister of Indigenous Affairs, the Grand Chief of the Atikamekw Nation, Constant Awashish said he expected that it is accompanied by a “real political will to move things forward”.
According to the Council of the Atikamekw Nation, government action in indigenous affairs has always been limited. This is mainly due to the fact that they do not report to a real ministry, but rather to a secretariat associated with the Prime Minister’s office.
“For the memory of Joyce Echaquan, but also for the indigenous people who are victims of systemic discrimination, we must now undertake change, drastically. To do this, we recommend avoiding any detour and adopting a spirit of unfailing partnership. The whole of Quebec will be the winner, ”adds Constant Awashish.
For his part, the head of the Association of First Nations Quebec-Labrador, Ghislain Picard, said that he “viewed favorably” the appointment of Ian Lafrenière. However, this should not set aside “the prime responsibility incumbent on the Prime Minister”, he indicates.
“In the history of Quebec, major advances in relations with the First Nations have always been made because the Premier assumed responsibility. […] We are clearly at a crossroads in our relations, and a change of minister will not be enough to change them. Premier Legault must be more present, ”explained Chief Picard.
According to him, the mountain in front of which the government stands is great. And Ghislain Picard does not seem convinced that Quebec realizes the greatness of it, he added in an interview on LCN.
“For two years, we searched a bit, if I may say so. But at the same time, I am not sure that Quebec is really aware of the extent of the challenges we face, ”he said.
The AFNQL chief is of the opinion that the mistreatment of Aboriginal people in hospitals would have gone under the radar had it not been for the tragic death of Joyce Echaquan.
While negotiations with the government have not always been rosy, Chief Picard is showing some optimism for the future.
“Our responsibility to us, I think it is important to clarify it, is to seek good conditions to allow a commitment which is transparent, which is frank, open also”, he says.
The first gesture of the new Minister of Indigenous Affairs, Ian Lafrenière, must be to recognize systemic racism, said Quebec solidaire co-spokesperson Manon Massé on Twitter on Friday.
“Ian Lafrenière, while he was a spokesperson for the SPVM (Service de police de la Ville de Montréal), denied the existence of racial profiling,” she wrote. His first act as the new Minister of Aboriginal Affairs must be to recognize systemic racism. Its credibility is at stake. We have bridges to rebuild. ”