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First Nations leaders meet with government officials, seek apology from SQ

Click to play video 'Quebec government wants to move forward with Indigenous people' Quebec government wants to move forward with Indigenous people
ABOVE: Quebec government wants to move forward with Indigenous people – Oct 17, 2019

Quebec’s Indigenous leaders met with government officials Thursday, in a one-day meeting with the goal to end systemic discrimination against First Nations and Inuit people.

Sylvie D’Amours, the minister responsible for Indigenous people, called for the meeting as a follow-up to a report released last month indicating that there is a serious problem of discrimination.

The report made 142 recommendations.

READ MORE: Quebec inquiry investigating treatment of Indigenous people calls for apology

“The whole relationship between the SQ and our communities needs to be brought up,” said Ghislain Picard, chief of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador.

“If it wasn’t for the Indigenous women who denounced back in October of 2015 and took action, we wouldn’t be here today. So I think that has to be acknowledged,” he added.

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“Those individuals have to be honoured.”

The Viens report was commissioned after women in Val d’Or accused Sûreté du Québec (SQ) officers of sexual assault.

On Thursday in Quebec City, the government and Indigenous leaders from across the province gathered to discuss how to end systemic racism.

“I was with the SQ for 30 years and at that time the SQ failed at that,” said CAQ MNA Dennis Lamothe.

“And that is one of the reasons why I jumped into politics because what is very important is we have to build relationships [with First Nations].”

READ MORE: Algonquin chiefs demand meeting with Quebec government at Val d’Or caucus

Premier François Legault made a public apology to First Nations people. Indigenous leaders at Thursday’s meeting said they are waiting for the SQ to do the same.

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“Police services in other provinces have apologized in these kinds of circumstances,” said Abel Bosum, Grand Chief of the Cree Nation.

“A director of the SQ recognizing there is a problem and that there needs to be some changes in the culture, or orientations, I think that would be a good step.”

Edith Cloutier, the executive director of the Val-d’Or native friendship centre said some steps have already been taken by individuals within the organization, but more leadership is needed from the top where “they are still in a form of denial about what has happened to women in Val d’Or and Maniwaki and Sept-Iles.”

The minister has promised she will listen to First Nations and Inuit communities about what their priorities are, but hasn’t said yet when she’ll make any announcements about future measures.

Click to play video 'Quebec apologizes to First Nations people for sufferings over the years' Quebec apologizes to First Nations people for sufferings over the years
Quebec apologizes to First Nations people for sufferings over the years – Oct 2, 2019

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