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Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones

An essential initiative worth repeating


QUÉBEC CITY, February 13,  2001 -Mr. Guy Chevrette, Minister of Transport, Minister for Native Affairs and Minister for Wildlife and Parks, 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, have made a very positive assessment of the mission which they undertook from January 30th to February 10th of this year and which took them to three European cities, namely Paris, Brussels and London.

"This mission has allowed us to realize the extent to which relations between the Government of Québec and the Native people are misunderstood by Europeans, and we still have much to do to correct the perceptions conveyed to date, stated Minister Chevrette. Through the sincerity, transparency and authenticity of our exchanges, we have presented to the various participants encountered a more realistic view of the relations between Québec and the Native people."

In each of the capitals visited, the Minister and the Leaders explained, from their own standpoint, the evolution and current status of relations between Québec and the Native people. They addressed such questions as respect for the cultural identity of the aboriginal nations, the socioeconomic conditions and development of communities, and self-government through the negotiation of agreements.

"I am confident that the mission will produce positive results, declared Mr. Aatami, President of Makivik Corporation. Europeans now have a greater understanding of who we are and what our aspirations are. I presented in a very frank manner the evolution of the relationship between Québec and the Inuit since the signing of the James Bay and Northern Québec Agreement, while underscoring the marked improvement in our relations in recent years."

"For the first time, I had the opportunity, without any restrictions, to present and make known my community and the Attikamek nation at the international level. The meetings that I took part in allowed me to meet people of very high value and to have discussions that were both substantive and enriching," exclaimed Mr. Awashish, Chief of the Attikamek community of Obedjiwan.

Mr. Moar, Chief of the Innu community of Mashteuiatsh, who dealt with the Common Approach recently agreed to with the Mamuitun Tribal Council, stated: "People were impressed with the approach centering on dialogue and mutual recognition that we have adopted.  There is still work to be done, but I have the feeling that we are paving the way for a new model for harmonious co-existence that could serve as an example for others, both in Québec and at the  international level."

It should be pointed out that this was the first time for a minister of the Government of Québec to undertake such an information mission in the company of three democratically elected Native leaders. "This experience should be repeated and the initiative of the last two weeks should be pursued. I intend to step up the actions to develop a network of relay persons in Europe and also in Québec, the United States, Mexico and Scandinavian countries," added Mr. Chevrette.

"I would like to thank Messrs. Aatami, Awashish and Moar for having accepted my invitation to take part in this mission. Through our nuances and even at times our differences, we presented a common message of respect and cooperation. They are strong political leaders who have chosen to work with the Government of Québec to improve living conditions and development, in order to secure their young people a better future," concluded Minister Chevrette.

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Édith Rochette
Press attaché
Tel. (418) 643-6980
Signature gouvernementale
Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones
905, avenue Honoré-Mercier, 1er étage - Québec (Qc)  G1R 5M6 - 418 643-3166
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