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Ratification of the Agreement in Principle with the Innu

The Regions Will Henceforth Have a Voice at the Negotiating Table

Québec, December 11, 2003 – Mr. Benoît Pelletier, Minister for Canadian Intergovernmental Affairs and Native Affairs, is pleased to announce that the Cabinet has approved the General Agreement in Principle reached in June 2002 between the First Nations of the Mamuitun Tribal Council and Nutashkuan, the Government of Canada and the Government of Québec, as part of the comprehensive territorial negotiations with the Innu nation.

The upcoming signing of this agreement by the minister will make it possible to initiate negotiations expected to lead to the conclusion of a final treaty with the Innu nation. In this regard, Minister Pelletier advocates a new approach based on ensuring the participation of and providing better information to the populations of the regions.

“We don’t want to leave the population in the dark and without a voice,” stated Mr. Benoît Pelletier, who will travel tomorrow to the North Shore and the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean to make known the government’s intentions. “We want all interested parties, and particularly the populations of the regions affected by the agreement, to have the tools they need to monitor the progress of these negotiations, to develop their own understanding of the stakes and to make known their opinion, which will be heard at the negotiating table.”

PARTICIPATION OF THE REGIONS: A REPRESENTATIVE OF THE REGIONS AND REGIONAL DELEGATES AT THE NEGOTIATING TABLE

Minister Pelletier has announced the setting up of a process to ensure the participation of non-Aboriginals, which will remain in effect throughout the negotiations with the Innu, and the appointment of Mr. Benoît Bouchard as representative of the regions at the negotiating table.

“I am fully aware of the importance of the role that I have been entrusted with today in the process that will lead within a few years’ time to an honourable treaty for all. I am convinced of the need to make the voice of the Saguenay– Lac-Saint-Jean and North Shore regions heard throughout the negotiations,” declared Mr. Bouchard.

To assert effectively the interests of the populations of the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean and North Shore regions at the negotiating table, Mr. Bouchard will be assisted in his tasks by a delegate from each of the regions affected, who will be chosen in the upcoming weeks. The two delegates will be members of the Québec party at the negotiating table.

The mandate of Mr. Bouchard and his team will be first to make sure that the information emanating from the negotiating table is regularly conveyed to the population of the regions. Secondly, the representatives of the regions will have to foster steady relations with regional stakeholders to find out their concerns and obtain their proposals on questions related to the negotiations (wildlife, vacationing, mines, forests, “good neighbour relations”, economic development, etc.). The representatives will then have to assert the concerns and positions of the regions with the Minister for Canadian Intergovernmental Affairs and Native Affairs, as well as with the special negotiator representing the Government of Québec.

Moving together towards a treaty: information and transparency

With a view to keeping the populations of the North Shore and Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean regions well informed about the progress of negotiations and the participation mechanisms put at their disposal, Minister Pelletier is today kicking off an information campaign. The Government of Québec will deploy a variety of resources to allow citizens to better monitor the progress of negotiations.

Initially, advertising will be published in regional newspapers and aired on regional radio stations to make known the new participation process announced today.

In January 2004, each household of the North Shore and the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean regions will receive an information pamphlet explaining, in particular, how Québec’s negotiating team plans to proceed in order to take into account regional concerns and to ensure the regular transmission of the relevant information to the people of the North Shore and the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean.

Gradually, other documents dealing with various themes falling within the scope of the negotiations will be distributed to the population to contribute to a better understanding of the stakes being discussed.

The public is invited to submit its questions and comments by way of a Web site devoted to the negotiations with the Innu at the following address:

www.versuntraite.com


All of the relevant documentation concerning the negotiations, both past and to come, is available on this site, which will be enriched with new content as the negotiations progress.

Persons who do not have Internet access are asked to contact the Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones, which will send them a printed version of the documents available on line:

Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones
905, avenue Honoré-Mercier
Québec (Québec) G1R 5M6
Telephone: (418) 643-3166

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Source:
Damir Croteau
Press secretary
Office of the Minister for Canadian Intergovernmental Affairs and Native Affairs
Tel. : (418) 646-5950

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Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones
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