The contradictory position of Legault’s government on first nations’ rights

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Bill C-92, “the First Nations, Inuit and Métis Children, Youth and Families Act”, introduced in the House of Commons on April 29, 2019, is finally implemented by Ottawa. This law allowing greater autonomy for first nations has been strongly contested by the Legault government. Previously, it was the provincial government that managed the placement of Aboriginal children in foster families. Through this law, it is the first nations who will manage their own youth protection, giving them greater autonomy. The Legault government’s position on this issue is contradictory.

The situation of aboriginal children in foster care is urgent. In fact, as Commissioner Viens described in its report of September 30th, it is necessary that the control exercised by the provinces in matters of protection of Aboriginal youth be reduced. Aboriginal children account for more than 50% of children placed in foster care, while they represent only 7.7% of children across Canada. Although this bill was prepared with the collaboration of several Aboriginal groups, it is not appreciated by all members of the Aboriginal communities. According to some Aboriginal activists, through this law, Ottawa offers a unique solution for a variety of communities, all of which have different needs and challenges. This law would require additional changes.

Quebec’s Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs denounced this law because Ottawa appropriated a provincial jurisdiction. Indeed, youth protection falls under the authority of the provinces under the Canadian constitution. Ultimately, this position is contradictory because on one hand this government promotes a certain autonomy of aboriginal nations and on the other hand it disapproves of it due to the fact that it would be “anti-constitutional”.

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