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Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones

New guidelines concerning aboriginal affairs

THE GOVERNMENT INVITES ABORIGINAL COMMUNITIES TO TAKE PART IN CREATING A POLITICAL FORUM

Forum Translation

QUÉBEC CITY, April 2, 1998 - The Québec government has proposed to aboriginal nations the creation of a political forum in order to develop harmonious relations based on mutual respect and trust. This is one of the main components of the action strategy contained in the new government guidelines concerning aboriginal affairs released today by the Minister of State for Natural Resources, Minister for the Regions and Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs, Guy Chevrette.

The forum, which would be part of existing Québec institutions, would be the preferred place to advance political debate by enabling direct contact between aboriginal and non-aboriginal elected officials. Issues that are important to aboriginal people and to the government could be discussed. The government is proposing that a bipartite commission be set up quickly to work on the creation of this forum. It would be mandated to design the forum for discussion, debate and concerted action between aboriginal and non-aboriginal elected officials.

To clearly demonstrate the Québec government's willingness to create a political forum for discussion with aboriginal people, Québec Prime Minister Lucien Bouchard sent an invitation to that effect to the Vice Chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Québec and Labrador, Ghislain Picard, and the Chairman of Makivik Corporation, Zebedee Nungak. The Prime Minister has invited aboriginal nations to designate leaders without delay to represent them on the bipartite commission so that it can begin work as soon as possible.

"We firmly believe in the importance of this political forum and the debates that may take place there," Mr. Chevrette said, noting that this initiative is consistent with the heritage of former Québec Prime Minister René Lévesque, who had proposed establishing a permanent parliamentary forum as part of the 1985 resolution. "Such discussions could give rise to better mutual understanding. We are ready to invest the effort needed to make this democratic exercise a success."

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SOURCE :
Shirley Bishop
Attachée de presse
(418) 644-5846
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