Headdress incident at Lajoie School: Call for urgent action

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“The lack of knowledge of First Nations practices and protocols must put us in front of the urgency of changing the way to educate children about the realities of our Peoples” said the Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL), Ghislain Picard,in Wandake, QC, reacting to many comments following the decision of the Lajoie School to distribute Indigenous headdresses to mark the beginning of the new school year.

Since 2012, the AFNQL seized every opportunity to insist on the importance, for the Government of Quebec, to develop a school calendar that includes a month dedicated to the teaching of the realities of Indigenous Peoples. In light of the 94 calls to action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, made public in December 2015, it is high time for the Government to take action. “The Government of Quebec must do more than simply acknowledge the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The Commission’s calls to action require a profound change in the teaching of our realities. “The back to school event at the Lajoie School is not the desired model”, declared the Chief of the AFNQL.

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Moreover, the AFNQL considers that the way to educate children about Indigenous Peoples can contribute to feeding intolerance rather than fight it. The Government of Quebec knows, since 2011, that it has now become inevitable for Quebec to adopt a policy to fight racism when it comes to Indigenous peoples. “It is difficult to fight racism if there is a denial it exists. It is essential that the Government opens its eyes and looks at the situation as members of our communities live it”, concluded Chief Picard.

In addition, with the incident that occurred at the Lajoie School, the AFNQL wishes that Quebec School Boards review their way of doing things in order to avoid such missteps. It also offers its support to educational institutions who would like to teach their students about the realities of First Peoples.

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About the AFNQL

The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador is the political organization regrouping 43 Chiefs of the First Nations in Quebec and Labrador. www.apnql-afnql.com. – CNW Telbec

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