The leader of the Green Party of Quebec, Alex Tyrrell, spoke on Wednesday, September 21, at Cabot Square in Montreal to unveil the party’s election platform on Indigenous rights.
The colonization of the territories that are now part of Canada and Quebec was extremely violent towards the First Peoples. The governments, in collaboration with the Catholic Church, perpetrated a genocide against the first peoples of these territories and the time has come to recognize the facts and to take concrete action to bring justice, to document the events and to ensure that the modern State does everything possible to heal the wounds. The Green Party of Quebec believes that it is necessary to recognize and stop the genocide against Aboriginal people. The Green Party of Quebec is also committed to ceding large sections of territory to Indigenous nations, in order to return the land that was taken from them without right by the colonizers.
Issues of systemic discrimination against Indigenous people continue to exist. The situation must be corrected while healing the wounds endured since colonization, which are well known and documented, and the various commissions have already made concrete, feasible and fair recommendations. What is missing to follow up on the recommendations of these commissions is the political will to act. The Green Party of Quebec believes that the time has come to take concrete action and to build the future together with the First Peoples by recognizing their rights and their connections to their lands. We have a duty to act now and we will do so.
The Quebec government must also officially recognize systemic racism and actively contribute to its elimination through various measures outlined by Coroner Gehane Kamel. Stricter oversight and faster disciplinary action must also be formulated to address the suffering that systemic racism causes Aboriginal people in the health care system. What happened with Joyce Echaquan at the hands of the health system is unacceptable and shocking, but sadly far from an isolated case. Racism exists in the Quebec health care system. It is a key place where systemic racism is practiced in Quebec and we all have a duty to eliminate racism everywhere in Quebec, whether it is in our health care system, in education, in the hands of the police, and everywhere else.
In order to give significant power to Indigenous peoples within Quebec’s democracy, the Green Party of Quebec is committed to offering one seat in the National Assembly for each of the 11 Indigenous nations and one for Indigenous people living outside of the communities for a total of 12 seats. This gesture of reconciliation could give Indigenous people a choice of government in the event of a minority Parliament, while promoting dialogue, listening and exchange within Parliament. The Green Party of Quebec also supports the formal recognition of Indigenous governments in the Canadian Constitution so that they can enjoy the same recognition as provincial and federal governments.
The Green Party of Quebec also supports the self-determination of Indigenous people. In terms of land management, First Nations should have the power to block development (or exploitation) projects on their ancestral lands. In terms of social issues, Indigenous people should have more control over social services, particularly to reduce the sending of Indigenous children to non-Indigenous foster homes.
Finally, the Green Party of Quebec argues that the Indian Act remains racist and colonialist to this day and should be overturned to allow First Nations the opportunity to transition to traditional governance. A Green Party of Quebec government will put resources in place to restore endangered languages and help Indigenous youth learn their languages with free courses as we propose for French and English.