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Introduction of the bill to reform the Youth Protection Act: A continuing incompatibility in terms of First Nations self-determination

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WENDAKE, QC, Dec. 1, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ - The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) and the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Health and Social Services Commission (FNQLHSSC) acknowledge the long-awaited tabling of the bill to amend the Youth Protection Act ("Bill 15").

The AFNQL and the FNQLHSSC have repeatedly maintained that it is fundamental to reform the legislative framework for youth protection in Quebec, and this, in complementarity and respect of the affirmation of our rights, self-determination and First Nations laws.

With this bill, Minister Carmant proudly claimed to have responded to the recommendACTIONS of the Laurent Commission report. Yet, the recommendations were clear with respect to First Nations and Inuit in Quebec: "The Commissioners recommend that the Government of Quebec support the right to self-determination and self-government in matters of youth protection by allowing Indigenous leaders to create their own laws on youth and family protection...". Did the government ignore chapter 9 of the report? To ensure true equality, the systemic changes the government intends to make will have to be accessible to First Nations children, regardless of where they live.

The AFNQL and the FNQLHSSC would like to remind the Quebec Government that they are still demanding the creation and implementation of a Child and Youth Commissioner position, specific to First Nations, whose role and responsibilities will be defined in collaboration with First Nations and Inuit and ratified by the AFNQL Chiefs. One of the Laurent Commission's recommendACTIONS echoed this request, namely "to establish a position of Deputy Commissioner and a team dedicated exclusively to the issues surrounding Indigenous children, with the Commissioner for Children's Welfare and Rights." Since the tabling of the Laurent Report, this recommendation has not been implemented, even though the need is great.

The FNQLHSSC and other First Nations and Inuit organizations have been invited to participate with the Ministry of Health and Social Services in working committees in order to make their concerns known. We are currently analyzing the entire law to verify if our concerns and recommendations have been taken into consideration and to examine the impact of Bill 15 on our communities.

"We recognize the efforts of the Quebec government to respond to the recommendations of the Laurent Commission report, among others; this is a good step forward in terms of youth protection for the province's children and families, but one that we consider insufficient for First Nations children since self-determination is completely ignored in this bill. This shows, once again, that First Nations must continue to fight so that their realities and demands are finally understood and listened to", says Derek Montour, President of the FNQLHSSC Board of Directors.

"Some communities have chosen to develop their own child and family services legislation, and they were right to turn to the First Nations, Inuit and Métis Child, Youth and Family Services Act (Bill C-92). The provincial legislative framework for child welfare is not adequate, either in its former or current form, to ensure full autonomy for First Nations. We have been closely monitoring the work related to this reform since the very beginning and we will be even more on the lookout today with the tabling of Bill 15," indicated AFNQL Chief Ghislain Picard.

Unfortunately, we are still faced with a government that insists on imposing its own laws and ways of doing things in youth protection. Bill 15 does not live up to our ambitions because it does not recognize our inherent right to self-determination in matters of youth protection.

About the AFNQL
The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador is the political organization that brings together 43 First Nations Chiefs in Quebec and Labrador.

About the FNQLHSSC
The First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Health and Social Services Commission (FNQLHSSC) is a non-profit organization that accompanies Quebec First Nations in achieving their health, wellness, culture, and self-determination goals.

SOURCE Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador

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View original content: http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/December2021/01/c7336.html

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