Quebec is Challenging Before the Supreme Court the Judgement of The Court of Appeal of Quebec regarding the Constitutionality of an Act Respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis Children, Youth and Families
WENDAKE, QC, March 15, 2022 – On February 10, 2022, the Court of Appeal of Quebec confirmed, in a unanimous decision rendered by five judges, except for two provisions, the constitutionality of An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families. On this occasion, the highest court in Quebec confirmed that the inherent right to self-government with respect to children and families belongs to all First Nations who, as governments, have the jurisdiction to adopt laws on this matter. This right is guaranteed by Section 35 of the Constitution. The Court of Appeal also urged the Government of Quebec and the federal government to work together to facilitate the implementation of this First Nations right.
On March 14, 2022, despite the repeated invitations of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) to collaborate, the Attorney General of Quebec chose instead to exercise his right of appeal and challenge before the Supreme Court of Canada the Court of Appeal of Quebec’s decision.
These rulings of the Court of Appeal have the overall effect of recognizing that First Nations have the necessary tools to fight effectively against the scourge of the over-representation of our children in provincial child welfare services, which continues to significantly affect our families, communities, and cultures.
Thus, the Attorney General of Quebec has shown his intention to test again, this time before the Supreme Court, the arguments already rejected by the Court of Appeal. He claims that the Federal Parliament failed to uphold the Constitution in establishing national minimum standards governing the provision of child and family services to our children. He also argues that Parliament does not have the ability to recognize in its laws, without constitutional amendment, our right to self-government. Moreover, the Attorney General of Quebec has expressed his intention to question the very existence of our right to self-government.
As Chief Ghislain Picard stated, “The AFNQL denounces this choice by Quebec, which continues to deny the fundamental rights of First Nations and our children and families. We are well acquainted with adversity. We remain more determined than ever to defend the principle recognizing the legitimacy of our governments. We will oppose Quebec’s claims before the Supreme Court, and we will continue to support First Nations governments in the exercise of their jurisdiction regarding our children, youth and families.”
The Attorney General of Canada is also appealing the Court of Appeal’s decision before the Supreme Court, but his challenge is limited to the invalidation of two provisions establishing a statutory regime of federal paramountcy in favour of First Nations laws.
About the AFNQL
The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador is a political organization that unites 43 First Nations Chiefs 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 First Nations in Quebec in achieving their objectives in terms of health, wellness, culture and self-determination.
For further information: Eve Bastien, AFNQL, Executive Assistant to the Chief of the AFNQL, [email protected], 418-254-4620 – www.apnql.com; Mathieu Papillon-Darveau, FNQLHSSC, Communications and Social Media Advisor, [email protected], 418-955-4104 – www.cssspnql.com