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Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones

A first in Québec


QUÉBEC, January 30, 2001 - Mr. Guy Chevrette, Minister of Transport, Minister for Native Affairs and Minister for Wildlife and Parks, is today embarking upon a mission that will take him to three European cities, namely Paris, Brussels and London.  He is being accompanied by Mr. Pita Aatami, President of Makivik Corporation, Mr. Simon Awashish, Chief of the Attikamek community of Obedjiwan, and Mr. Clifford Moar, Chief of the Innu community of Mashteuiatsh.

The purpose of this mission, which is slated to last approximately ten days, is to make better known the status of relations between the Native people and the Government of Québec and to raise the awareness of European representatives about the reality of the Native people of Québec.

In each city visited, Mr. Chevrette and the three Native leaders will meet with parliamentarians, journalists, representatives of non-governmental organizations and academics interested in aboriginal issues.  They will explain, each from their own perspective, the evolution and the current status of relations between Québec and the Native People.

"This is a first, stated Minister Chevrette. Accompanied by three Native leaders who are very much involved in the development of their community or nation, I will have the opportunity to present the impact of the partnerships established in recent years and to provide a more comprehensive and realistic portrait of the relations between Québec and the Native people than the one conveyed by some individuals."

Minister Chevrette will take advantage of this mission to make European representatives more aware of the historical, geographical, cultural and socio-economic context of the Amerindian and Inuit presence in Québec.  He will deal in particular with the evolution of relations between the government and the Native people over the last thirty years and the implementation of Québec orientations in the Native affairs field entitled Partnership, Development, Actions. These orientations, made public in April 1998, center on the development of self-government for communities and nations through the negotiation of agreements, and on the economic development of the Native people through access to natural resources, manpower training, job development and the development of entrepreneurship.

The mission will also give the three Native leaders the opportunity to present the diversity and cultural wealth of the Native people of Québec, as well as to share their vision of the development of their community or nation, and the relations that they maintain with the Government of Québec.

Members of the delegation

Mr. Pita Aatami was elected President of the Makivik Corporation, an organization that represents all of the Inuit of Nunavik, in October 1998 and then re-elected in March 2000.  Prior to holding this position, he was treasurer of the Corporation from March 1993 to October 1998, and he represented the community of Kuujjuaq on the executive board from 1987 to 1993.

During the mission, Mr. Aatami will be able to present the evolution of the Inuit of Québec since the signing of the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement in 1975 and to talk about the aspirations of the Inuit for greater political autonomy and the work of the Nunavik Commission in charge of proposing a form of regional government in Nunavik.  Finally, he will discuss the ties that the Inuit of Québec have forged with the other Inuit of the circumpolar region.

Elected for the third time in 1999 as Chief of the  Attikamek community of Obedjiwan, located in Haute-Mauricie, Mr. Simon Awashish has in turn been a school teacher and principal, President of the Attikamek nation, General Manager, then Chief of the Opitciwan Band Council (Obedjiwan).  He is also President of the Obedjiwan sawmill, created in partnership with Abitibi Consolidated, and a member of the board of directors of the Société de la faune et des parcs du Québec (FAPAQ).

Mr. Awashish will take advantage of the opportunity to describe the reality of a small Native community isolated from urban centres and which is moving from a traditional way of life geared to the practice of hunting, fishing and trapping to a way of life centering on modernity and economic development.

Since 1997 Mr. Clifford Moar has been Chief of the Inuit Community of Mashteuiatsh located in Lac-Saint-Jean. Born in the community of Mashteuiatsh, he is of Cree descent. He has an education in management,  communication and marketing, and has worked as an administrator within the community for the Amerindian Police Council, the Amerindian Museum, and the Council of the Montagnais of Lac-Saint-Jean.

During the mission, Mr. Moar will be called upon to present the content of the Common Approach recently agreed upon within the framework of the comprehensive territorial negotiations with the Innu communities that are members of the Mamuitun Tribal Council, which deals with the rights of the Innu, self-government, the territory, as well as financial and development aspects.  He will also talk about issues related to sustainable development and the environment.

The media are invited to follow the stages of this mission by consulting the Web site of the Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones at the following address: www.saa.gouv.qc.ca


Édith Rochette
Press Attaché
Office of Minister Guy Chevrette

Signature gouvernementale
Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones
905, avenue Honoré-Mercier, 1er étage - Québec (Qc)  G1R 5M6 - 418 643-3166
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