Cultural Security | Despite the criticism, Lafrenière persists

(Montreal) Calls for the cultural security bill to be withdrawn, postponed or completely rewritten have multiplied at the same pace as various Indigenous representatives appeared in parliamentary committee this week. But no matter how strong the headwinds are, Minister Ian Lafrenière is determined to move forward.

None of the indigenous stakeholders heard in the special consultations welcomed the draft Act establishing the cultural security approach in the health and social services network with enthusiasm.

“Nobody told me it was perfect, but people realize we have to act,” the minister said.

Some speakers called for Indigenous voices to be included in drafting bills that affect them. Others denounced Quebec’s encroachment on the jurisdiction of indigenous governments. Some have spoken of a “paternalistic” or even “colonialist” approach.

On his side of the table, the minister defended himself by claiming that it was not about imposing rules on indigenous groups, but rather about imposing rules on the health network to better serve and care for indigenous populations.

“I heard very clearly the recommendations that were made,” the minister assured in an interview with The Canadian Press on Wednesday. Sometimes you have to take a step back. You must understand that this is a very emotional topic and that this is normal. »

Towards the end of Wednesday’s hearings, retired judge Jacques Viens, chairman of the Commission of Inquiry into the Relations between Indigenous Peoples and Certain Public Services in Quebec, appeared to offer the minister a path forward in the debate about acknowledging systemic racism.

The former commissioner said it was “impossible to deny systemic discrimination against First Nations and Inuit people.” If he doesn’t like the term racism, he thinks the term discrimination is completely correct. And the government must appoint him.

“If we don’t take a step towards systemic discrimination and the Joyce principle, I think it will cause blockages,” warned former judge Viens. Despite all your goodwill and commendable efforts, I am convinced that moving forward will be difficult. »

This speech seems to have struck a chord with Ian Lafrenière.

“I heard a nuance. I heard Judge Viens’ words. There are several of us on the Commission who have heard it. This is food for thought,” the minister said in an interview.

Indigenous groups are calling for the adoption of the Joyce Principle, which in itself is a form of cultural security. It was written by the Atikamekw community and supported by the federal government and several civil society groups such as the College of Physicians and the Order of Nurses of Quebec.

However, one of the essential elements of the Joyce Principle is to recognize the existence of “systemic racism faced by Aboriginal people”. An admission that François Legault’s government does not want to make.

Block opposition

Appearing before the Committee on Institutions included representatives from the Atikamekw Council of Manawan, the Innu Takuaikan Uashat mak Mani-utenam Nation, the Quebec and Labrador First Nations Health and Social Services Commission, the Indigenous Women of Quebec and Joyce Principle supporters have in turn called for the withdrawal of PL-32 or its suspension while they engage in genuine cooperation.

“Cultural safety cannot be achieved within a network of health and social services […] without realizing the obvious. “The network, as designed, contains policies, programs and services that discriminate against Indigenous peoples,” Joyce Principle Office Director General Jennifer Petiquay-Dufresne said Wednesday before causing a stir by leaving the room left.

The day before, the leader of Manawan’s Atikamekw community, Sipi Flamand, replied that “it is better to take more time to do it better” when Quebec Solidarity MP Sol Zanetti asked him about the possibility Suspend PL-32.

Marjolaine Siouï, director general of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Health and Social Services Commission (FNQLHSSC), confided in an interview before her appearance before elected officials that the bill was based on “shaky foundations” as Quebec and the First Nations Nations do not have the same definition of the concept of consultation.

“For us, the principle of consultation means going back to our population so that they can tell us what they want from cultural security,” she said.

In its brief, the Makivik company writes: “We hope that Bill 32 reflects the position of First Nations and Inuit on issues of cultural security and does not represent a fragmented, watered-down approach that does not meet our demands or the evidence.”

For its part, the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake writes that defining and defending their cultural security are rights and responsibilities incumbent on First Nations, not the Quebec government.

Worse still, the Quebec-Labrador Assembly of First Nations flatly refused to appear before parliamentarians. Its leader, Ghislain Picard, said in an open letter that he viewed the bill as “disregarding the rights of First Nations people.”

He accused the Legault government of “contempt” for First Nations self-government and their jurisdictions.

Responding to all this criticism, Minister Lafrenière said the government had already tried the approach of dialogue and consultation with First Nations and that after two years there had still been no results.

“We took a different approach,” he explains. We said, “Let’s prioritize.” Let’s move forward. Even if it is imperfect, let us move forward. » »

Jordan Johnson

Award-winning entrepreneur. Baconaholic. Food advocate. Wannabe beer maven. Twitter ninja.

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