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Minister Geoffrey Kelley and Regional Chief Ghislain Picard announced the holding of the Forum on the Social and Economic Development of the First Nations, with the participation of the Inuit, in 2006

Mr. Geoffrey Kelley, Minister for Native AffairsMr. Geoffrey Kelley, Minister for Native Affairs, and Mr. Ghislain Picard, Regional Chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Québec and Labrador (AFNQL), today announced that the Forum on the Social and Economic Development of the First Nations, with the participation of the Inuit, will take place in 2006. The Innu community of Mashteuiatsh in the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region will host this historic event.

Following the Forum des générations that were held on October 12, 13 and 14, 2004, Premier Jean Charest, representatives of the First Nations and the Inuit, as well as political and socioeconomic stakeholders, together agreed to hold a forum dealing with the social and economic development of the Aboriginal nations.

For the first time in Québec, a vast public discussion of this type is being organized on the subject of Aboriginal matters. The First Nations and the Inuit have to take up numerous challenges that concern all of us as a society. This forum will be a fantastic opportunity to talk directly with the members of the 55 Aboriginal communities and the various partners so that together, we can find solutions, the spin-offs of which will benefit everyone,” mentioned Minister Kelley.

Four main themes

The Forum’s prime objective is to initiate and support actions and partnership measures that will make it possible to improve in a tangible, efficient and lasting manner the social and economic conditions of the First Nations of Québec. The Government of Québec and the Assembly of First Nations of Québec and Labrador (AFNQL) have jointly identified four themes, which correspond to four decisive challenges that the Aboriginal Peoples will have to take up in the years to come:

  • the economy and jobs;
  • health and social services;
  • culture and education;
  • infrastructures and community development.

For a very long time, we have wanted to hold our own talks on social and economic development, an event that both rallies people and creates new solutions and above all tangible projects that will benefit all the members of our communities. This is particularly true for young people, towards whom we have an imperative duty. The Forum will be an opportunity to build lasting partnerships that will help maintain harmonious relations between the Aboriginal nations and all Quebecers,” stated Mr. Ghislain Picard, Regional Chief of the AFNQL.

The Forum will make it possible to highlight the stakes and to propose solutions in relation to the themes, which will be binding not only on the First Nations, but also on the Inuit and Québec society as a whole. In the upcoming months, a reflection will begin in Aboriginal communities to identify, among other things, the orientations and the actions to be given preference in the field of development and partnerships with governments and representatives of civil society.

I am delighted that the Community of Mastheuiatsh is hosting the Forum. The holding of this gathering, which is one-of-a-kind in our common history, testifies to a great openness and will be followed by a vast initiative. There can be no doubt that the Forum will be a reflection of the relations between the Pekuakamiulnuatsh and the people of the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region, namely both imaginative and creative. I am convinced that these exchanges will lead us towards new horizons characterized by a spirit of sharing and will lay the foundations for future actions,” stated Mr. Karl Blackburn, MNA for the electoral division of Roberval, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Public Security, and Co-chair of the Forum.

Preparatory meetings in the regions

To prepare this major gathering, meetings will be held in the fall of 2005 in target regions. On that occasion, citizens, socioeconomic partners, the leaders of municipalities, regions and Aboriginal communities will be able to contribute to the discussions on the proposed themes. An assessment of the preparatory meetings will also be made in January 2006 to guide the discussions during the Forum. Finally, awareness promotion activities and activities to foster closer ties between Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginals will also take place during this same period.

This is a true honour for our nation to be hosting this major gathering. Located at the crossroads of several regions of Québec and aboriginal territories, Mashteuiatsh was the ideal choice for the holding of this forum, especially since this event will be taking place in the middle of 2006, the year in which our community will be commemorating the 150th anniversary of its founding. Another element that argued in favour of holding this Forum here in Mashteuiatsh is the economic vitality of our community as well as its orientation, resolutely geared towards partnership and harmonious cohabitation, and about which we are very happy,” pointed out Mr. Gilbert Dominique, Chief of the Council of the Montagnais of Lac-Saint-Jean.

 

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Online as of : June 21, 2005