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Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones

The Government of Québec and the Assembly of First Nations of Québec and Labrador have undertaken to create a joint council of elected officials

Québec, June 17, 2003 - Mr. Jean Charest, Premier of Québec, and Mr. Ghislain Picard, Regional Chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, today undertook to establish a joint council of elected officials. The event was held in Sainte-Foy as part of the general meeting of the AFNQL and in the presence of some thirty aboriginal chiefs as well as of Mr. Benoît Pelletier, Minister for Canadian Intergovernmental Affairs and Native Affairs.

This commitment, which is expressed in a statement signed by Mr. Charest and Mr. Picard, gives tangible form to the firm desire of the parties to hold exchanges between aboriginal and non-aboriginal elected officials on various subjects, including the territory and resources, taxation and economic development, as well as the services intended for Aboriginal people living both on and outside reserves.

Composed of an equal number of aboriginal and non-aboriginal elected officials, the joint council of elected officials will meet beginning in the fall of 2003 and will address these important themes. The council’s exploratory work will continue until the spring of 2004.

“The signing of the mutual political commitment and the ensuing exchanges represent a major step forward in the political relations between the Government of Québec and the First Nations, and could eventually lead a permanent space for political exchanges,” stated Premier Jean Charest.

“For the First Nations, this mutual political commitment testifies to the political will of the Government of Québec and indicates that it plans to address the concerns of the First Nations. This step represents a major opportunity to establish harmonious and lasting relations between the First Nations and the Government of Québec,” stated Mr. Ghislain Picard, Regional Chief of the AFNQL.

“True progress can only be achieved through mutual respect, understanding and knowledge of the point of view of each party. That explains the need for this joint council,” added Minister Pelletier, who took advantage of his presence at the meeting to initiate discussions with the aboriginal chiefs.

The participation of the Premier of Québec at the meeting of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, especially at the start of a new term of office, marks a “first” in the history of this organization and shows the importance that the new government of Jean Charest intends to place on its relations with the Aboriginal people.



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Sources:
Christian Barrette
Press officer
Office of the Premier
Tel.: (418) 643-5321

Ghislain Picard
Regional Chief of the AFNQL
Tel. : (418) 842-5020

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