Dignity of Indigenous Women
KAHNAWAKE, October 8, 2019 – On Tuesday, October 2, 2019, Premier François Legault apologized and asked forgiveness of First Nations and Inuit members for a “situation unworthy of Quebec society” caused by the shortcomings of the Quebec state in this regard. He qualified the findings of the Public Inquiry Commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples and certain public services: listening, reconciliation, and progress (Viens Commission) as being devastating but used the conditional tense in mentioning the fact that “there would be discrimination” toward Indigenous people in the delivery of public services in Quebec.
Premier Legault admits that “the Quebec state is not doing enough” and that it is important to “respect everyone’s human dignity and profound values”. He commits himself to the review of each call to action stated by Commissioner Viens and his team, and this implementation is announced as being a work of collaboration with the Indigenous Nations. A meeting will be held next October 17.
Following public apology as part of the ministerial statement at the Quebec National Assembly, Premier Legault met with the chiefs and representatives of Indigenous organizations to speak with them individually. In doing so, Premier Legault personally spoke with the president of Quebec Native Women, Viviane Michel, and she reminded him that the Viens Commission’s report remains silent regarding actions that would help Indigenous women feel secure when dealing with police officers and the justice system.
“I agree with and accept the apology, but can we have concrete commitments for the implementation of the report recommendations? It is easy to apologize but we need clear, written, and formal commitments in order to take action”, stated Viviane Michel.
Quebec Native Women recognizes the openness demonstrated and emphasizes the importance of continuing to affirm, as Premier Legault has done, that “Indigenous women experienced a large share of the prejudices” in this racism. Indigenous women should be able to be born, grow, and thrive within their Nations and Quebec society in all safety and freedom.
For this reason, Quebec Native Women reiterates its demand for the Quebec government to engage in writing, ensuring the security of Indigenous women. Quebec Native Women would like to leverage its expertise by collaborating with government authorities to make this happen. We must move beyond the calls to action stated; we must include, consider, support, and accompany those that the report has forgotten: Indigenous women.
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Miriam Fillion, Communication Officer
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