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AFNQL: Discrimination From the Top

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by ahnationtalk on June 22, 201893 Views

WENDAKE, QC, June 21, 2018  – Following the release of an article in Le Devoir this morning which reports that the Quebec Minister of Health and Social Services, Gaétan Barrette, said that Nunavik parents who accompany their children during medical transfers would be expelled from the ambulance airplane if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol and that “this happens all the time”, the Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL), Ghislain Picard, felt compelled to react.

“We are not done digging up and tearing down the deep roots of discrimination and prejudice against Indigenous peoples. The minister’s utterly unacceptable statement clearly indicates that these roots are deep into the heart of Philippe Couillard’s government, who should immediately demand the resignation of Minister Barrette, or dismiss him,” declared Ghislain Picard.

After months, if not years of denying the very existence of discrimination against Indigenous peoples, the Couillard Government finally set up the Public Inquiry Commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples and certain public services in Québec, following events that have revealed, for instance, the possibility of discriminatory practices toward Indigenous peoples in the delivery of public services in Québec.

“Maybe the Commission should have called Gaétan Barrette first, to assess how much discrimination in the important Ministry that he manages starts from the top and how much the Minister’s prejudices influence the delivery of the essential health and social services to First Nations and Inuit people? Perhaps the roots of discrimination should first be sought within Philippe Couillard’s Cabinet”, asks Ghislain Picard.

What efforts have been made over the years by Premier Couillard and the Quebec Minister responsible for Native Affairs to ensure that their Cabinet colleagues do not send a discriminatory message in the ministries and entities under their authority? In view of the discriminatory remarks of the person who has been in charge of Health and Social services for four years, the AFNQL believes that the question must be asked, especially on the eve of a provincial election.

“Today, June 21st, we are celebrating Indigenous Peoples. We will probably hear some good speeches. When will we be entitled to see concrete actions that put an end to the discriminatory attitudes that Indigenous peoples are faced with on a regular basis within the Quebec society? That day, we will really have something to celebrate. Not today.” concluded Ghislain Picard.

About the AFNQL
The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador is the political organization regrouping 43 Chiefs of the First Nations in Quebec and Labrador. Follow us on Twitter @APNQL.

For further information: Alain Garon,, Communications Officer, Cell. : (418) 254-4620


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