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Assembly of First Nations gives Hydro-Québec a B+

Photo: Jacques Boissinot The Canadian Press At a press briefing, chef Ghislain Picard denounced the attitude of François Legault's government.

The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (APNQL) gives a B+ grade to Hydro-Québec, by far the best grade in the report it unveiled Thursday to the National Assembly.

At a press briefing, Chief Ghislain Picard denounced the attitude of François Legault's government, saying he regretted that Indigenous people were perceived “by the government as obstacles “. “We are even criticized for asserting our rights because it is disturbing. […] We always have the impression that we inherit the odiousness of compromise,” he lamented.

Saying he was inspired by the media which produce bulletins at the end of the parliamentary session, he provided the AFNQL's assessment of government action. “The government’s current performance is not sufficient to achieve a passing grade and remedial measures will need to be taken before the next parliamentary session. We could say that the student must repeat his year,” added the chef, who gave grades ranging from C to F in Quebec.

“Everything is not is not black,” he qualified. “We recognize it: in certain areas, the government is doing better, such as in economic development. In terms of energy development, it is also interesting. If we add Hydro-Québec to the equation, if we had given a grade to the state-owned company, it would be B+: the highest grade on the report card,” he declared.

Hydro-Québec has embarked on the path of “economic reconciliation” with Indigenous people. The state corporation thus apologized on May 6 to the Innu of Unamen Shipu, whom it never consulted before building a hydroelectric power station on their territory in 1995. The big boss of Hydro-Québec, Michael Sabia, also signed a framework agreement of $45 million over six years with Pessamit, with a view to creating “an equal partnership” on the Innu territory, where the possibility of a 1000 megawatt wind project looms.< /p>

“Our relations with Hydro-Québec are good. There is great openness on the part of the CEO to include First Nations in governance, to work with us. But it is too early to comment on the results. We are still in the honeymoon. And it is Mr. Fitzgibbon who still decides, to a large extent, the directions of Hydro-Québec,” underlined Mr. Picard in a statement in English.

At the dawn of the tabling of the reform desired by the Minister of the Economy and Energy, Pierre Fitzgibbon, the AFNQL also said it expected that the governance of Hydro-Québec would no longer be “the only business of the government of Quebec”, and that “the First Nations also find their place”.

Reproaches and failures

The AFNQL bulletin also criticizes the Legault government for having challenged Bill C-92 all the way to the Supreme Court. This federal law recognizes the “inherent right to self-government” of Indigenous peoples in family matters. It therefore allows communities to set up and manage their child protection services themselves.

He underlines, on the other hand, the minister's openness of Social Services, Lionel Carmant. He renounced the creation of a position of associate commissioner for the rights of indigenous children. Instead, it enshrined in its Child Welfare and Rights Commissioner Act that “First Nations and Inuit are best placed to meet the needs of their children in the most appropriate manner.”

Generally speaking, Chief Picard said he would like more transparency from the Legault government. “Our right to self-determination bothers François Legault, who constantly brandishes the scarecrow of the right of veto,” he said. The Prime Minister notably associates the recognition of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples with the granting of a veto to Indigenous people.

“We have always have the impression of having to face a government that has a very, very colonialist attitude,” said the leader of the AFNQL. He proposed the establishment of a permanent parliamentary forum, a consultative entity that had once been proposed by René Lévesque. The goal ? “Find concrete means of cohabitation that benefits everyone,” he summarized.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116