The Quebec Government has unveiled a tabled anti-racism action plan, a development First Nations leaders have faulted, adding that it won’t have a lasting effect.
In a statement to address the 25 recommendations, Assembly of First Nations Quebec and Labrador Regional Chief Ghislain Picard said “Until now, the Legault government (Premier Francois Legault) has taken a piecemeal approach, without taking the time to get to the root of the social issues we are facing”.
“This is the case today, with a series of measures that may not have a lasting effect if we do not address the root causes of racism and discrimination.”
Premier Francois Legault had in creating an anti-racism task force promised that his government would take more concrete action to fight racism than any previous provincial government.
However, with only 25 recommendations – and no formal recognition of systemic racism – First Nations leaders stated that Quebec’s Racism: Zero Tolerance plan, tabled recently, falls short of what is needed.
It was gathered that Deputy Health Minister Lionel Carmant and Immigration Minister Nadine Girault, members of the task force created by Legault in June, admitted that despite years of reports and recommendations on fighting racism, there have been few results.
Speaking to newsmen in Montreal, Girault said “What we are presenting today, are finally, concrete and coherent actions”.
She added that “Watch what’s going to be happening. You’re going to see real results. Because you’re going to see real actions in place”.
It should be noted that First Nations and Inuit in Quebec have waited six months – and some hundred years before that – for the Quebec government to take tangible action against the racism affecting its public services.
It would be recalled that the Viens Commission final report, released over a year ago, made 142 recommendations in this area.
But Legault and his cabinet maintain, however, that although racism exists in Quebec, systemic racism does not.
Legault said “Quebec is one of the places in the world where we have the least racism,” adding that “But still we have to continue to work against racism, but we have to be proud of our situation”.
In their reaction, the Atikamekw Nation, however, expressed high expectations for the report.
In a statement, Atikamekw Grand Chief Constant Awashish said “We received the report- we weren’t invited to help create it”
“For now, after reading the recommendations, we’re wondering how this is all going to take form, how the work will unfold in this sense, and how can we solidify this nation-to-nation dialogue?”
It should be noted that in its 25 “practical” recommendations, the task force concluded random police stops should be banned for all of Quebec’s police forces.
For example, a study of “street checks” conducted by Montreal municipal police found Indigenous women are 11 times more likely to be questioned at random than anyone else.
Carmant said policies introduced by the province’s Public Security Ministry back in August, to ensure police stops are not “random unfounded or discriminatory,” didn’t have the force of law.
“The task force also recommends that social workers be incorporated into police forces,” Carmant said. “This will allow the de-escalation of many situations that are based on perceptions or on prejudices.”
The recommendations also include ensuring more minority representation in Quebec’s civil service.