Federal Minister of Indigenous Services Patty Hajdu said she shared her concerns with the minister responsible for the file in Quebec, Simon Jolin-Barrette.
Federal Minister of Indigenous Services Patty Hajdu made a strong pledge Thursday in Kahnawake to support First Nations in their desire to evade Bill 96.
Ms. Hajdu was in the Mohawk community on the South Shore of Montreal on Thursday to sign an education funding agreement with the leaders of 22 Aboriginal communities in Quebec.
La minister said she was concerned to hear the perception of chiefs on the impact they believe the law may have on their right to educate their children in the language and culture of their choice .
She affirmed that it is important for us to stand with Indigenous peoples as a federal government to ensure that they retain their rights, that they have the right to x27;educate their children in such a way that they will achieve success.
The issue was originally raised by Gesgapegiag community leader John Martin during the speeches preceding the journalists' question period.
When we look at the province of Quebec, one of the major issues, particularly for English-speaking [indigenous] communities, is that of French language laws. For 40 years, we have been faced with language laws. We have students who can't graduate because they were unable to get the credits they needed and Bill 96 is pushing the wall even higher, Chief Martin had said.
The Chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL), Ghislain Picard, also brought the question to the fore by mentioning a letter of support received approximately two weeks from Minister Hajdu who, in just a few words, confirmed that the Government of Canada will support First Nations in defending their rights and enforcing what they believe to be their right to; teach our own children about our culture.
The question came up again during the question period and Ms. Hajdu said she shared her concerns with the minister responsible for the file in Quebec, Simon Jolin-Barrette. Then she came back to the charge: We cannot put barriers in the way of children striving to reach their full potential, including barriers that involve language.
John Martin, for his part, recalls that the First Nations are the third partner in the Constitution. We are signatories to the Constitution and we have constitutional rights. And those constitutional rights include language rights, the same rights Quebec has, he said.
Invoking the use of the notwithstanding clause by Quebec, he added that if Quebec can use the notwithstanding clause of the Constitution, why shouldn't we as First Nations have the same right to protect our languages?
When one language tends to dominate, it is a colonial practice and it means the extermination of other languages and cultures. This is what we are up against. It will be our destiny and I believe that the federal government really needs to address the constitutional issue of Aboriginal rights within the Constitution and language rights are part of it, he launched to the applause of the assembled crowd. for the signing of the agreement.
For his part, Ghislain Picard recalled that we did not choose our colonizer. We have been trying for decades if not centuries to adapt and I believe that needs to be recognized. Why are we the last to have a choice on this issue?
Saying that he appreciates Ottawa's support in this matter, he acknowledged that there will always be other challenges, adding that they will continue to count on the precious ally that is the federal government when it comes time to stand up on this key issue.