The death of Joyce Echaquan and, more recently, the discovery of hundreds of children’s bodies on the land of former residential schools sadly remind us how much racism and discrimination against the Indigenous communities are present.

To better understand their realities and find potential solutions, the Québec and Canada governments have held numerous commissions and inquiries over more than 20 years. The solutions are known, and according to the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL),1 it’s high time for action.

867 calls for action and justice

The multiple commissions and inquiries concluded with 867 calls to action and justice. Yet these demands to change laws, notably among the justice system, in health and social services and in education, have yet to be put in place.

For many groups, including the AFNQL, the time has come to apply concrete measures. The organization claims that we need to offer Québec’s population concrete, simple and realistic actions to influence government action.

However, Indigenous communities need the support of the whole society. Changing things “is a question of commitment,” said AFNQL chief, Ghislain Picard, during a Web conference held in June 2021.

Becoming allies

According to the AFNQL, union organizations can undertake different actions to support the Indigenous communities, like amplifying the multiple awareness campaigns and making the outlines of the current issues known.

At the CSQ, several initiatives have been put in place to promote dialogue. For example, guides and a platform raising awareness to the Indigenous realities and cultures were developed for the education personnel working in the North.

The CSQ general council also adopted the Joyce Principle. This important initiative is an ultimate “call to action” asking the governments to provide safe and reassuring access in the health and social services system for the First Nations and Inuit members. 

And on an individual level?

To support the Indigenous communities, everyone should get informed and share the information on the Indigenous communities’ realities, claims the AFNQL. Promoting their initiatives, including their contribution to the Québec economy, for example by supporting Indigenous artists and artisans, is another way to work towards living together better.

To know more

 The CSQ created two professional integration guides for those who wish to work in the North. They are available in electronic format:

Living and working in an Inuit community and Living and working in a Cree community

The AFNQL website is filled with information. You will find, among other things, the Assembly’s Action Plan on Racism and Discrimination:

20 years of calls to action and justice

  • Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1996): 400 calls to action
  • Truth and Reconciliation Commission (2015): 94 calls to action
  • National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (2019): 231 calls to action;
  • Public Inquiry Commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples and certain public services in Québec (2019): 142 calls to action

Not forgetting the inquiry on the death of Joyce Echaquan, which was held in May and June 2021. At the time of writing, the process still wasn’t completed.

1 The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador is a political representation organization acting on behalf of the ten Québec and Labrador Territory’s First Nations, since 1985. This assembly regroups elected chiefs of 43 First Nations communities.