05 June

Val-d’Or, June 5, 2017 – Québec Native Women (QNW) wishes to respond following the opening of the hearings of the Public Inquiry Commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples and certain public services in Quebec: Listening, Reconciliation and Progress. Up until now, QNW is satisfied with the process of the Inquiry, which has demonstrated structure, transparency and openness.

First, QNW wishes to emphasize that it is important not to forget the origin of the Commission of Inquiry, which is the result of hard work in collaboration with many Indigenous and non-Indigenous parties. In May, QNW learned that it was granted participant status, acknowledging its expertise and allowing it to continue its efforts in order to meet the objectives of the Commission. “As a participant and collaborator, QNW is committed to not only passing the information on to the concerned parties, but also to offer its comments, recommendations and potential solutions throughout the process envisioned by this inquiry,” adds Viviane Michel, President of QNW. In order to do so, QNW must acquire the services of legal counsel for which a request for financial support was administered, but for which the organization is still awaiting an answer.

QNW would also like the people who will testify at the scheduled hearings to benefit from all necessary tools and assistance. Thus, the Commission must ensure fair and equitable treatment for all, while respecting the right to legal representation of the individuals who will be brought in to testify, according to their request and their need.

As mentioned before, QNW maintains that is paramount for the Commission to consider the vulnerability of the witnesses. To this effect, QNW insists that constant and additional support, before, during and after the hearings, must be offered within the communities from which they come.

The completion of the Commission’s mandate will make it possible to finally offer recommendations adapted to the needs which will be clearly identified and heard during the hearings. That is why QNW deems it essential that all persons having experienced or having witnessed situations of discrimination or violence during the provision of public services, whether in communities or in urban areas, participate in this inquiry. Indigenous women, who are still today victims of discrimination and racism, count on the Commission of Inquiry and its impartiality to assess the facts in all sensitivity and comprehension of the Indigenous realities. The results of the inquiry will have a direct impact on the security and welfare of the province’s Indigenous women, their families and their communities.