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Home > Governmental Action Plan Against Racism and Discrimination Towards Aboriginal people

Governmental Action Plan Against Racism and Discrimination Towards Aboriginal people

Despite significant progress in protecting rights, Aboriginal people are still living today with the repercussions of a colonial past and policies that are systematically discriminatory against them. There still exist, in Québec society, prejudices and behaviours that may harm the individual or collective development of First Nations and Inuit.

During the elaboration of the government policy against racism and discrimination, Le lien suivant ouvre une nouvelle fenêtre. La diversité : une valeur ajoutée (PDF), the Ministère de l’Immigration et des Communautés culturelles and the Assembly of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador agreed that the policy should be implemented through a separate action plan for Aboriginal people. As such, on October 22, 2008, the Cabinet decided to designate the Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones (SAA) responsible for the development of a specific action plan.

Why a specific action plan?

First Nations and Inuit must be distinguished from other social groups that could be subject to racist or discriminatory practices or speech. Unlike these other groups, the links uniting the Aboriginal people go well beyond solidarity based on a limited number of shared characteristics. 

Well before the arrival of the Europeans, First Nations and Inuit formed organized communities, as they still do today, which are recognized as “peoples” in Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution Act who have collective rights necessary to maintain and develop their identity. The National Assembly of Québec recognized the existence of eleven distinct Aboriginal nations in its territory by passing resolutions to this effect in 1985 and 1989.

On its own, this legal and political status as a nation or people justifies a distinct action plan. Beyond the status, the wealth of this reality through which the members of each nation share fundamental characteristics requires special attention. In fact, members of each of these nations share prior occupancy of the land, before and after colonization, an original ethnic identity based on a language, spirituality, culture, conception of life and its relationship to the natural environment. Members of each nations share social and political organization that they desire to preserve and develop based on their own objectives.

Therefore, racism and discrimination towards First Nations and Inuit are particular in that even if they are aimed at an individual level, they endanger the survival of an entire collectivity. This is the underlying principle of this action plan.

Developing an action plan, in brief

The work on developing the action plan began in summer 2013. One of the first steps, as Aboriginal affairs are a shared responsibility within the Québec government, was to set up an interdepartmental committee. The SAA also retained the services of an expert, Mr. Pierre Lepage, to draft a reference framework and to moderate national days of consultation. Mr. Lepage worked for the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse for over 30 years and is the author of Le  contenu suivant peut comporter des obstacles à l’accessibilité. Aboriginal Peoples: Fact and Fiction (PDF, 96 pages, 3,47 mo).

In fall 2013, the SAA held a two-step consultation process. The first step involved holding two national days of consultation on November 5 and 6, 2013, during which the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs saw over 100 people, most of whom were from different First Nations and Inuit communities and organizations. The second step involved communities and organizations, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, that were given until December 20, 2013 to submit a brief to the SAA. More than 25 briefs were received, permitting further elaboration of several specific points, including housing, education, justice, taxes, employment, healthcare and social services.

Based on the numerous testimonies and recommendations, the SAA, in collaboration with Québec ministries and governmental agencies, and in cooperation with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal organizations, is currently working on developing concrete measures and means to take action, within its area of authority, to combat racism and discrimination towards aboriginal people.

Contact us

For more information on the action plan or to submit your comments or suggestions, feel free to contact the SAA at contrer.racisme@mce.gouv.qc.ca.

Documents:

Signature gouvernementale.
Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones
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Last update: September 24, 2015