Topic: Today’s News

Trent University Honours Local Michi Saagiig on National Truth and Reconciliation Day

University unveils installations at both campuses to educate community of Trent’s location on treaty land Thursday, September 30, 2021, Peterborough To mark the inaugural National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Trent University has unveiled new installations paying tribute to the importance of the original treaties pertaining to the land upon which our two campuses are built, and honouring the original signatories of the Michi Saagiig Anishnaabeg. “For more than 50 years, Trent has been committed to providing education in Indigenous history, traditions, cultures, and Indigenous knowledges for students and the broader community,” says Julie Davis, vice-president of External Relations and Development at Trent University. “As we honour Truth and Reconciliation Day, recognizing the local treaties and the Michi Saagiig people is foundational.” On the Peterborough campus outside of Bata Library, the University unveiled three limestone boulders bearing the symbols of the dodem (clan totems) carvings of the Treaty 20 Michi Saagiig signatories as well as a statement identifying the Symons Campus lands as being situated on Michi Saagiig traditional territory. At Trent University Durham GTA, a new Treaty Wall has been installed in the front atrium of the campus featuring original signatory documents and a pre-confederation treaty map. Both installations will help educate the community that Trent sits on land featuring Williams Treaty signatories. “Curve Lake First Nation and Trent University have a gold-standard relationship,” says Chief Emily Whetung of Curve Lake First Nation. “Trent University prioritizes hearing the teachings of our Elders and Traditional Knowledge Keepers and ensuring the teachings are respected. We are very pleased to see these installations, developed in a true partnership, come to life. The meaningful acknowledgment of our ancestral lands and the treaty in which Trent University is situated will raise awareness in all who pass through Trent University.” On the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Trent University honours the land upon which it is built and the land’s traditional occupants, while celebrating the imaginations of Indigenous peoples, their survival throughout the centuries, their knowledge developed over generations, and their strength to endure. “Here at Trent, on this very important day, as we come together to remember and honour all those who were forced into the Indian residential schools, we are committing ourselves as an institution to engage in the process of reconciliation,” says Dr. Dawn Lavell-Harvard, director of the First Peoples House of Learning at Trent University. “As a small but important first step we must acknowledge the truth of our shared history and these installations were designed to educate all those who study, work, or visit our campuses. We give these places of honour to the Michi Saagiig Anishnaabeg, the original signatories of Treaty 20 and Williams Treaty, as a sign of respect and our commitment to do better and to work together in true partnership as the original treaties intended.”

The unveilings are just one way the University is marking the inaugural National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. As a leader in Indigenous education, the University has created a new webpage to advance the goals of education, reflection and action, and is sharing ways our communities can engage meaningfully in reconciliation and honour the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, including:  Reading the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Reports – both the Calls to Action and the testimony of residential school survivors  Review the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Archives and Collections  Offer gratitude through a land acknowledgment  Become knowledgeable about the local Michi Saagiig First Nations and their protocols  Watch and learn from elders the importance of building relationships with Indigenous People and the protocol of tobacco offerings as gift giving for knowledge sharing  Learn about the lands on which Trent is situated  Support Indigenous businesses, authors and artists  Fundraise for organizations supporting residential school survivors and their families  Share calls to action with your whole family utilizing the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada’s Guide to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission  Wear an orange shirt to show support Visit to learn more. Innovation in Indigenous Education at Trent University With deep roots in reconciliation, Trent University incorporates the teachings and perspectives of Elders and cultural leaders into our academic experiences, extracurricular programming and campus life. Trent’s groundbreaking leadership in Indigenous Studies dates back over 50 years – to our beginnings, when we became the first university in Canada (and only the second in North America) to establish an academic department dedicated to the study of Indigenous peoples and knowledges. The Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies, as well as University’s Wenjack Theatre, are named for Chanie Wenjack, a young Anishinaabe boy who ran away from a the Ceilia Jeffrey Residential School from Kenora, and was headed home when he died of exposure on the railway tracks near Redditt, Ontario.

This is an homage to his flight to safety, and the safe space created for Indigenous knowledges, perspectives and communities at Trent. Within the Chanie Wenjack School for Indigenous Studies we think differently, and inspire our students to do the same.

About Trent University Consistently recognized nationally for leadership in teaching, research and student satisfaction, Trent attracts excellent students from across the country and around the world. Here, undergraduate and graduate students connect and collaborate with faculty, staff and their peers through diverse communities that span residential colleges, classrooms, disciplines, hands-on research, co-curricular and community-based activities. Across all disciplines, Trent brings critical, integrative thinking to life every day. Today, Trent’s unique approach to personal development through supportive, collaborative community engagement is in more demand than ever. Students lead the way by cocreating experiences rooted in dialogue, diverse perspectives and collaboration. In a learning environment that builds life-long passion for inclusion, leadership and social change, Trent’s students, alumni, faculty and staff are engaged global citizens who are catalysts in developing sustainable solutions to complex issues. Trent’s Peterborough campus boasts award-winning architecture in a breathtaking natural setting on the banks of the Otonabee River, just 90 minutes from downtown Toronto, while Trent University Durham Greater Toronto Area, delivers a distinct mix of programming in the east GTA.

Anishinabek Nation observes first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Trigger warning: readers may be triggered by the recount of Indian Residential Schools. To access a 24-hour National Crisis Line, call: 1-866-925-4419. Community Assistance Program (CAP) can be accessed for citizens of the Anishinabek Nation: 1-800-663-1142. ANISHINABEK NATION HEAD OFFICE

(September 30, 2021) – The Anishinabek Nation acknowledges Canada’s commitment to honour survivors of Indian Residential Schools through the establishment of a federal statutory holiday on September 30, National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

“September 30, 2021, marks the day of the first nationally recognized holiday for and about Indigenous people that draws attention to the oppression at Indian Residential Schools,” states Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Reg Niganobe. “Importantly, this new statutory holiday provides the space for education and awareness of the injustices of Residential Schools for our non-Indigenous counterparts, but also provides Indigenous people with a day to reflect, honour, and recognize this day in a way that is appropriate to their healing journey.” According to the Government of Canada, the day is intended to honour the lost children and Survivors of Indian Residential Schools, their families and communities.

Public commemoration of the tragic and painful history and ongoing impacts of Indian Residential Schools is a vital component of the reconciliation process. “The Government of Canada has responded to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #80, ‘…to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.’ Almost six years after the Calls to Action were released, we finally have this day of recognition,” states Grand Council Chief Niganobe. “Although there is still much work to be done with regards to Indian Residential Schools and the continued recoveries at sites, it is a positive step in reconciliatory efforts by both levels of government.”

The new federal holiday also takes place on Orange Shirt Day, an Indigenous-led grassroots commemorative day established in 2013 that honours the children that survived Indian Residential Schools and remembers those who did not. The day relates to the experience by Phyllis (Jack) Webstad on her first day at Residential School when her new orange shirt, gifted to her by her grandmother, was taken from her as a six-year-old girl. It is a symbol of the stripping away of culture, freedom, and self-esteem experienced by Indigenous children over generations. The date for Orange Shirt Day was selected as it is the time of year in which children were taken from their homes to Residential Schools.

On this day, all Canadians are encouraged to wear orange to raise awareness of the tragic legacy of Indian Residential Schools and to honour the Survivors. In addition to wearing orange, Canadians are encouraged to continue to learn more about the history of Indian Residential Schools and their assimilation practices. Indian Residential School educational resources are available through the Anishinabek Nation by visiting


(Ottawa, ON) – La Cheffe nationale de l’Assemblée des Premières Nations (APN), RoseAnne Archibald, se félicite de la victoire remportée par les enfants et les familles en vertu de la décision de la Cour fédérale du Canada de confirmer l’indemnité accordée par le Tribunal canadien des droits de la personne (TCDP) aux enfants des Premières Nations pris en charge dans le cadre du programme des services à l’enfance et à la famille des Premières Nations, ainsi qu’à leurs familles. La Cour fédérale a également confirmé la décision du TCDP concernant l’application du principe de Jordan à tous les enfants des Premières Nations reconnus comme citoyens par leur nation, peu importe leur statut en vertu de la Loi sur les Indiens ou leur lieu de résidence. Cette décision est le résultat d’un litige de longue date entre le Canada, l’APN et la Société de soutien à l’enfance et à la famille des Premières Nations. « C’est la justice en action pour les enfants et les familles des Premières Nations.

Cependant, rien ne peut remplacer l’enfance, les liens avec les langues et les terres, ainsi que les êtres chers volés par les pratiques discriminatoires du Canada. Nous avons demandé à plusieurs reprises, de manière raisonnable et juste, que le Canada cesse de combattre nos enfants devant les tribunaux, non seulement dans l’intérêt de la vérité et de la réconciliation, mais aussi pour le chemin de la guérison devant nous », a déclaré la Cheffe nationale RoseAnne Archibald. En 2007, l’APN et la Société de soutien à l’enfance et à la famille des Premières Nations ont déposé une plainte auprès du TCDP alléguant des pratiques discriminatoires à l’égard des enfants et des familles des Premières Nations concernant la prestation par le Canada des services à l’enfance et à la famille des Premières Nations (SEFPN) et son application du principe de Jordan. En janvier 2016, le TCDP a statué que le Canada faisait effectivement preuve de discrimination à l’égard des enfants et des familles des Premières Nations dans sa prestation et son financement du programme des SEFPN ainsi que dans son application étroite du principe de Jordan, et ordonné au Canada de réformer complètement son programme des SEFPN et de mettre pleinement en œuvre le principe de Jordan.

En septembre 2019, le TCDP a ordonné au Canada de verser une indemnité aux enfants des Premières Nations admissibles et à leurs parents et(ou) grands-parents affectés par les pratiques discriminatoires du Canada.

En octobre 2019, le Canada a déposé une demande de révision judiciaire de cette ordonnance. Puis, en juillet 2020, le TCDP a rendu une décision clarifiant l’admissibilité au principe de Jordan, une décision confirmée en novembre 2020. Le Canada a déposé une demande de révision judiciaire de cette décision en décembre 2020.

L’honorable juge Paul Favel a entendu les arguments des parties devant le TCDP concernant l’ordonnance d’indemnisation et l’admissibilité au principe de Jordan en juin 2021. Cette décision reconnaît le préjudice causé par les pratiques discriminatoires du Canada et confirme que les enfants et les familles des Premières Nations méritent justice. Cette décision monumentale a été rendue la veille de la Journée du chandail orange, désormais également désignée Journée nationale de la vérité et de la réconciliation.


MAJOR WIN FOR FIRST NATIONS CHILDREN AND FAMIL I ES ( Ottawa, ON)Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief RoseAnne Archibald acknowledges the victory for children and families with the Federal Court of Canada’s decision to uphold the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal’s (CHRT) compensation award to First Nations children and families that were apprehended under the First Nations child and family services program. The Federal Court also upheld the CHRT’s ruling regarding the application of Jordan’s Principle to all First Nations children who are recognized by their Nation as citizens, regardless of their Indian Act status o r where they live. This is the result of a yearslong dispute between Canada and the AFN and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society. “This is justice in action for First Nations children and families, however, nothing can replace the childhoods and connections to languages, lands and loved ones stolen by Canada’s discrimination. We have repeatedly made a reasonable and fair request that Canada stop fighting our kids in court not only for the sake of truth and reconciliation but also for the heal path forward,” said National Chief RoseAnne Archibald. ing In 2007, the AFN and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society launched a complaint at the CHRT alleging discrimination against First Nations children and families in Canada’s provision of First Nations Child and Family Services (FNCFS) and Jordan’s Principle. In January 2016, the CHRT found that Canada was in fact discriminating against First Nations children and families in its provision and funding of the FNCFS Program and narrow applica tion of Jordan’s Principle, and ordered Canada to completely reform its FNCFS Program and fully implement Jordan’s Principle. In September 2019, the CHRT ordered Canada to pay compensation to eligible First Nations children and their parents and/or grandp arents affected by Canada’s discrimination; in October 2019, Canada filed for a Judicial Review of this order. Then, in July 2020, the CHRT issued a ruling clarifying who is eligible for consideration under Jordan’s Principle, and confirmed this in Novembe r 2020; Canada filed for Judicial Review of this order in December 2020. The Honourable Justice Paul Favel heard arguments from the parties to the CHRT regarding the compensation order and Jordan’s Principle eligibility in June 2021. This decision acknowl edges the harm caused by Canada’s discrimination and affirms that First Nations children and families deserve justice. This monumental decision c one day before Orange Shirt Day, now also known as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations people in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.

Les Québécois sont invités à s’engager dans la lutte au racisme envers les Premières Nations


Tio’tia :ke (Montréal), le 29 septembre 2021 – Pour l’anniversaire de son Plan d’action sur le  racisme et la discrimination, l’Assemblée des Premières Nations Québec-Labrador (APNQL)  lance un appel à la population et aux institutions québécoises. « Pour concrétiser la réconciliation  dont on parle ces jours-ci, nous invitons les Québécois et Québécoises à prendre l’engagement de  lutter avec nous contre le racisme envers les Premières Nations », appelle le chef de l’APNQL  Ghislain Picard. 

Le Plan d’action de l’APNQL, dévoilé le 29 septembre 2020, contient une série d’idées concrètes  pouvant être adoptées autant au niveau personnel que par les organisations de différents secteurs  de la société civile. Depuis son dévoilement, de nombreuses personnes et organisations y ont  apporté leur soutien et ont manifesté leur volonté d’agir à titre d’alliés des Premières Nations. Cette  vague de solidarité, de même que la volonté d’agir exprimée dans l’ensemble des régions du  Québec, ont convaincu l’APNQL de la nécessité de poursuivre sa démarche de création  d’alliances. 

La volonté de l’APNQL de continuer à miser sur les alliances avec la société civile québécoise  repose également sur les résultats d’un sondage récent qui indique que la perception des Québécois  et Québécoises (être constant avec le début) face aux Premières Nations continue de s’améliorer.  En effet, ils sont de plus en plus nombreux à vouloir poser des gestes concrets dans la lutte au  racisme. 

En faisant le bilan de la première année de son Plan d’action, l’APNQL annonce du même coup le  lancement d’une campagne sociétale qui invitera la population et les organisations québécoises à  prendre des engagements dans la lutte au racisme et à la discrimination envers les Premières  Nations. Pour concrétiser ces engagements, on pourra choisir des actions parmi celles que l’on  retrouve dans le Plan d’action. De plus, l’APNQL proposera d’autres idées concrètes pouvant être  réalisées à différentes échelles, en plus de rendre publics des exemples d’initiatives citoyennes. Une plateforme Web sera bientôt lancée à cet effet. 

Photos et vidéos 

Pour manifester leur volonté d’engagement, l’APNQL invite les personnes intéressées à se prendre  en photo ou en vidéo, et à les partager sur les réseaux sociaux avec les mots clics #AgirContreLeRacisme #PremièresNations. Des affiches ont d’ailleurs été produites pour les

personnes qui prendront part à la Marche pour la vérité et la réconciliation qui aura lieu demain,  le 30 septembre, à Montréal. Celles-ci pourront être utilisées par tous les marcheurs qui voudront  témoigner publiquement de leur engagement dans la lutte au racisme envers les Premières Nations. 

Québec doit en faire plus 

Pour le chef de l’APNQL, il ne fait pas de doute que la population québécoise est de plus en plus  sensibilisée aux réalités des Premières Nations et prête à agir pour la réconciliation, probablement  davantage que l’est le gouvernement du Québec. Toujours selon le sondage réalisé par l’APNQL, une forte proportion des Québécois et Québécoises estime que le gouvernement n’en fait pas assez pour lutter contre le racisme et la discrimination envers les Premières Nations. 

« Je suis heureux de constater l’appui grandissant des Québécois et Québécoises. C’est  encourageant pour l’avenir, puisque c’est ensemble, Autochtones et allochtones, que nous pouvons  changer les choses. Notre appel à la société civile ne doit toutefois pas occulter la responsabilité  du gouvernement québécois, qui doit nécessairement en faire plus pour lutter contre le racisme et  la discrimination, tout comme il doit aussi en faire davantage pour la vérité et la réconciliation »,  d’affirmer le chef Picard. 

Quebecers invited to engage in the fight against racism towards First Nations


Tio’tia: ke (Montreal), September 29, 2021 – For the anniversary of its Action Plan on Racism  and Discrimination, the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) wants to reach out  to the population and institutions in the province of Quebec. “To achieve the reconciliation that  we are talking about these days, we invite Quebecers to commit and to fight with us against racism  against the First Nations,” calls the Chief of the AFNQL Ghislain Picard. 

The AFNQL’s Action Plan was unveiled on September 29, 2020 and contains a list of concrete  ideas that individuals and organizations can adopt in different civil society sectors. Since its  unveiling, many people and organizations have supported it, and expressed their willingness to act  as allies of the First Nations. This wave of solidarity and the will to act expressed in all regions of  Quebec convinced the AFNQL that it is necessary to continue creating these alliances. 

The AFNQL’s desire to continue building alliances with Quebec civil society is also based on the  results of a recent survey indicating that Quebecers’ perception of the First Nations continues to  improve. More and more of them want to take concrete action in the fight against racism. 

While looking back on the first year of its Action Plan, the AFNQL also announces the launch of  a societal campaign that will invite Quebec’s population and organizations to commit to the fight  against racism and discrimination towards the First Nations. They will be able to choose actions  among those found in the Action Plan. In addition, the AFNQL will propose other concrete ideas  that can be implemented at different levels, as well as publicize some examples of citizens’ initiatives. AFNQL will soon launch a website for this purpose. 

Photos and videos 

The AFNQL invites all those who want to show their commitment to take photos and videos at the  march and share them on social networks with the hashtags #ActAgainstRacism #FirstNations.  Posters have also been printed for those participating in the March for Truth and Reconciliation  tomorrow, September 30, in Montreal. All walkers interested in this initiative can use them to  publicly testify to their commitment to the fight against racism against the First Nations.

Quebec needs to step up 

For the Chief of the AFNQL, there is no doubt that the Quebec population is increasingly aware  of the realities of First Nations people, and that it is ready to act in favor of reconciliation, probably  even more so than the government of Quebec. Quebecers themselves, in a large proportion  according to the poll conducted for the AFNQL, believe that the government is not doing enough  to fight racism and discrimination against the First Nations. 

“I am happy to see the growing support from Quebecers. It is encouraging for the future since it is  together, Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike, that we can make a difference. Our call to civil  society must not, however, obscure the responsibility of the Quebec government, which must  necessarily do more to fight racism and discrimination, just as it must also do more for truth and  reconciliation”, affirms Chief Picard. 

6128 Orange Ribbons to be placed at the Vancouver Art Gallery

6128 Orange Ribbons to be placed at the Vancouver Art Gallery
to honour Residential School children buried in numerous
unmarked graves across Turtle Island.  

At noon on September 29, 2021, 6128 Orange Ribbons will be placed into the soil at the Vancouver Art Gallery-South Side.  This historic ceremony symbolizes the unreported actual count of First Nations children found buried in mass graves at residential schools across Canada and the United States.  While some of the gravesites have been reported by the media other Indigenous children remain unacknowledged.  Each Orange Ribbon represents every child whose lives mattered but were lost because of the colour of their skin.    

Tamara Bell, a seventh generation Haida matriarch and artist chose 6128 Orange Ribbons to speak boldly and creatively about the genocide of her people.  The Orange Ribbons embody 6128 ancestors who are now found and will be honoured for their spirit.  As an inter-generational survivor of residential school, Ms. Bell is inspired and compelled by Canada’s upcoming National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.    

Ms. Bell hopes that all Canadians join us at the ceremony to speak the truth about the history of Canada and its treatment of First Nations peoples. Once all Canadians acknowledge the truth, then we can proceed as a country towards reconciliation.

At 12:30, a ‘Truth & Reconciliation’ basket created by Ms. Bell will be placed close to the Orange Ribbons.  Ms. Bell would like anyone who desires to share their written comments, thoughts and prayers into the Truth and Reconciliation Basket, which will move our nation forward.  

Noon-Land Acknowledgement
Speaker-Tamara Bell – Haida Nation
Speaker – Desiree Simeon – Haida Nation
Speaker – Diana Day – Pacific Association of First Nations Women – Lead Matriarch
Truth & Reconciliation Haida Basket Reveal
Placement of the 6128 Orange Ribbons

Projet de loi 96 : Le gouvernement du Québec continue à mettre en péril la réussite éducative des enfants des Premières Nations

Wendake, le 29 septembre 2021 – Le Conseil en Éducation des Premières Nations (CEPN), M.  Ghislain Picard, Chef de l’Assemblée des premières Nations Québec-Labrador (APNQL) et le chef  porteur du dossier de l’éducation, M. John Martin, exhortent le gouvernement du Québec à être  à l’écoute des enfants des Premières Nations. Cet énoncé arrive après le plaidoyer de l’APNQL qui a sommé le ministre Jolin-Barrette de respecter les droits fondamentaux des élèves autochtones lors des Consultations particulières et auditions publiques portant sur le projet de  loi 96 (PL 96). 

« Le ministre responsable de la Langue française, M. Simon Jolin-Barrette, est bien placé pour comprendre les effets néfastes que la Charte a sur nos enfants, nos langues, notre culture et nos  communautés. Nous avons proposé des solutions simples afin de mettre fin aux obstacles à la  réussite éducative des enfants des Premières Nations au Québec. Maintenant, c’est au tour de  M. Jolin-Barrette d’agir », a déclaré le Chef John Martin. 

Bien que la Charte de la langue française ne s’applique pas dans les communautés des  Premières Nations, plus de la moitié des élèves des Premières Nations sont scolarisés hors  communauté et donc forcés d’aller à l’école en français alors que leur langue maternelle est une  langue ancestrale ou l’anglais. Plusieurs de ces élèves parviennent plus difficilement à obtenir  leurs diplômes d’études secondaires et collégiales en raison des crédits de langue seconde en  français qu’on leur impose. 

L’APNQL, en collaboration avec les Commissions et organismes régionaux affiliés, a déposé un  document proposant des solutions techniques permettant à tous nos élèves d’avoir des chances  égales de réussir, y compris : 

• D’appliquer les mêmes principes dont les Cris et les Inuit bénéficient sur la langue  d’enseignement (chapitre VIII) et sur les politiques des établissements d’enseignement  collégial et universitaire relativement à l’emploi et à la qualité de la langue française  

(chapitre VIII.1) à l’ensemble des Premières Nations au Québec. 

• Éliminer les subtilités législatives de la Loi sur l’Éducation qui obligent les élèves des  Premières Nations d’écrire l’épreuve unique en français pour graduer, même s’ils sont  anglophones ou qu’ils aient étudié dans leur langue maternelle.

• Revoir l’accès aux professionnels anglophones en éducation pour qu’ils offrent des  services aux élèves anglophones dans nos écoles. 

« Le gouvernement du Québec ne peut ignorer les effets dévastateurs qui se perpétuent avec la  nouvelle mouture de la loi 101, le PL 96. La loi 101, tout comme le PL 96, pose des barrières  systémiques à la réussite éducative de milliers d’enfants et de jeunes issus des Premières  Nations au Québec. » a déclaré M. Denis Gros-Louis, directeur général du CEPN. 

« Le gouvernement Legault se dit prêt à développer une relation respectueuse, entre les  gouvernements des Premières Nations et son gouvernement. C’est sur cette base que nous  avons établi une Table politique conjointe qui a maintenant tenu deux rencontres et qui pourrait  éventuellement en tenir une sur les enjeux soulevés par le projet de Loi 96. Les Premières  Nations ont aussi leurs « langues officielles » et exigent qu’elles soient respectées ainsi. Une  véritable relation de gouvernement à gouvernement est incompatible avec ce que propose ici le  gouvernement Legault, et incompatible avec l’essentielle Réconciliation avec les Premières  Nations » a conclu le Chef Picard. Lien vers l’audience en commission : parlementaires/travaux-commissions/AudioVideo-91359.html

Quebec’s Bill 96 Continues to Jeopardize First Nations Student Success

Wendake, September 29, 2021 – The First Nations Education Council (FNEC), Mr. Ghislain  Picard, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) and the Chief  Responsible for Education, John Martin, are calling on the Quebec government to listen and pay  attention to First Nations children. This comes on the heels of the AFNQL’s plea made to  Minister Jolin-Barrette in special consultations and public hearings on Bill 96 to respect the  fundamental rights of Indigenous students.  

“The Minister Responsible for the French Language, Simon Jolin-Barrette, understands firsthand  the negative impact the Charter has on our children, languages, cultures, and communities. We  have recommended simple solutions to remove the obstacles to First Nations student success in  Quebec. Now it is Mr. Jolin-Barrette’s turn to take action,” said Chief John Martin. 

Even though the Charter of the French Language does not apply in First Nations communities,  over half of First Nations students must receive instruction off reserve, forcing them to enroll in  French language schools even though their mother tongue is an Indigenous language or English.  Many of these students struggle to obtain their high school or college diploma because of  French second language requirements imposed on them. 

The AFNQL and its affiliated regional organizations and commissions have submitted a  document recommending technical solutions that would enable all our students to have an  equal chance at success. These recommendations include: 

• Implementing the same language of instruction principles applied to Cree and Inuit  students in Chapter VIII of the Charter, and applying college or university policies on the  use and quality of the French language under Chapter VIII.1 to all First Nations in Quebec. 

• Eliminating legislative subtleties in the Education Act requiring First Nations students to  pass the standardized French test in order to graduate, even if they are native English  speakers or have received instruction in their Indigenous language. 

• Reviewing access to English-speaking education professionals that would allow them to  provide services to English-speaking students in our schools.

“The Quebec government cannot ignore the devasting effects that are maintained through Bill  96—the latest rendition of Bill 101. Both bills create systemic barriers to the academic success of  thousands of First Nations children and young people in Quebec,” said FNEC Director General, Denis Gros-Louis. 

“Premier Legault says he is ready to develop a partnership built on mutual respect between his  government and First Nations governments. This intent led to the establishment of a joint  political table that has already met twice, and may meet again to discuss issues raised by Bill 96.  First Nations also have their own official languages and demand that they be regarded as such.  What the Legault government is putting forward with this bill is inconsistent with a genuine  government-to-government relationship, as well as being inconsistent with the principle of  reconciliation with First Nations,” concluded Chief Ghislain Picard. 

Link to the committee audience (French only): audio/archives-parlementaires/travaux-commissions/AudioVideo-91359.html 

AFN National Chief RoseAnne Archibald’s statement on the Bishops of Canada financial commitment:

“The financial commitment made by the Bishops of Canada today is welcomed, however, I must acknowledge that it is long overdue. Due to previous financial promises by the church not being met, I sure the Bishops will understand First Nations skepticism and mistrust about their commitments.

The Assembly of First Nations is looking for a further assurances that these funds, each and every dollar, will go directly to the healing initiatives for the survivors and intergenerational survivors.

As National Chief, I will be reaching out to Bishops of Canada to ensure that First Nations are part of the development of the national principles and strategy, timelines, and the public communication as stated in their announcement.  I appreciate that they understand the principle of “nothing about us, without us.”

We’re no longer accepting hollow apologies. Concrete actions and changed behaviour are essential as we walk the healing path forward.”