First Nations group lays into "racist" charter
The Quebec branch of the aboriginal movement Idle No More is raking the PQ's Charter of Values through the coals, calling it "racist" and "colonialist."
The Parti Quebecois is threatening religious practices just as governments once banned potlatch and sweatlodges, says Melissa Mollen Dupuis, a co-organizer for the movement.
"It's just a follow-up of the colonial system that has been oppressing First Nations culture and history for the last 480 years," she says.
Calling the charter hypocritical and useless, Mollen Dupuis says French settlers benefited from the generosity of First Nations people, but that that welcoming spirit is not being reflected in the government's proposal.
First peoples can wear a number of spiritual symbols, says Mollen Dupuis, from the eagle feather to the medicine wheel. Grandmothers of her Innu heritage had a tradition of wearing large silver crosses.
The aboriginal affairs minister's press secretary, though, says the most of aboriginal people will not be effected by a ban on symbols.
"The majority of aboriginals are Christians," Antonine Yaccarini said on the minister's behalf.
Still, Idol No More Quebec is encouraging First Nations to don their spiritual symbols in protest.
Mollen Dupuis is also blasting the Charter of Quebec Values for neglecting the values of the province's First Nations and failing to consult them before drafting the document.
And, she takes issue with the PQ's declaration that French is a unifying force in Quebec, since the province's aboriginal people speak a variety of languages.
"We are one of the founding people of the province of Quebec and the country of Canada. It's another good example of how First Nations are still being ignored."
The aboriginal affairs minister's spokesperson says aboriginal people are considered to be their own separate nations, and so are not the targets of the charter.
Idle No More's declaration comes out on the day premier Pauline Marois heads to Nunavik for a series of announcements.