Idle No More weighs in on Quebec’s proposed Charter of Values

An eagle feather, which is considered sacred, is held up during a pipe ceremony at the opening ceremonies of the first day of The Assembly of First Nations Annual General Assembly in Toronto on July 17, 2012. Michelle Siu/The Canadian Press

MONTREAL – Quebec’s Idle No More movement has made its position clear on the province’s proposed Charter of Values.

“The Charter is racist and exclusionary,” Melissa Mollen Dupuis, a spokesperson for the movement, told Global News.

“It’s a step back for Quebec.”

READ MORE: Parti Quebecois unveils details of Charter of Values

The Parti Quebecois unveiled its controversial plan on Tuesday, which proposes to ban public employees – hospital workers, teachers and school employees, police and judges and city workers – from wearing “conspicuous” religious symbols during working hours.

Overt religious wear would include turbans, kippas, burkas, hijabs and “large” crosses.

Anyone giving or receiving government services also has to make sure their face is visible.

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MORE: A graphic showing appropriate religious symbols

The fact that First Nations’ religious symbols have been ignored has raised important issues, as well as eyebrows, in indigenous communities.

“We’ve not even been consulted and we’re one of the founding peoples,” observed Mollen Dupuis.

“Being with us means listening to us.”

Idle No More claims that the Quebec government has a constitutional obligation to consult First Nations on issues that affect them.

“Ignoring this responsibility has continued to advance colonial mentalities throughout the process of colonization,” she noted in a statement.

“In the past, our ceremonies, sweat lodges, potlatches, dances, songs, religious and spiritual symbols, cultural identities and languages were forbidden through the same kind of colonial policies that now threaten other religious practices.”

A multicultural rally is being held in Montreal on Saturday to protest against the proposed Charter.

READ MORE: Rest of Canada decries Quebec’s charter, but opposes some religious symbols

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