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Date: Mon, 23 Oct 1995 22:07:07 -0400
Sender: Progressive News & Views List <PNEWS-L@SJUVM.STJOHNS.EDU>
Subject: Self-Determination: Quebec & the First Nations
From: Jack Hicks <jhicks@nunavut.ca>

Campaign for Self-Determination

Progressive persons who feel that in order to defend the rights of aboriginal peoples in Quebec they must join the bigoted attack on the rights of the Quebecois (which is, I would suggest, hegemonic in English Canada these days. . .) might want to consider the following statement by the Campaign for Self-Determination

In Canada, the people of Quebec and the aboriginal nations have expressed a desire to exercise their right to national self-determination. Significant numbers within these nations have indicated their wish for one form or another of political sovereignty and/or independence.

We believe that it is necessary to explicitly assert that these nations have the unconditional right to determine their own future -- whether this be within Canada as we know it, as part of a different form of federation or as totally independent states.

After its election victory in September 1994, the Parti Quebecois government set out the process by which it hopes to lead Quebec to sovereignty. This process was quickly declared "illegal," "unconstitutional" and "undemocratic" by various federalist politicians and conservative institutions in the rest of Canada.

We reject these attempts to challenge the legitimacy of the pre-referendum and referendum process in Quebec. It is up to the government and the people of Quebec to determine how they will exercise their right to self-determination.

We also reject attempts in the rest of Canada to pit the rights of aboriginal nations against the rights of the Quebecois. We express out firm support for self-determination for First Nations AND for Quebec. The Haida of British Columbia, the Dene of the north and the Cree of northern Quebec have the same right to self-determination as does the non-native population of Quebec. There is no hierarchy of national rights.

For the same reasons, we do not hide our opposition to the section on the rights of aboriginal nations in the PQ's Draft Bill on Sovereignty which insists upon the "territorial integrity of Quebec."

We have not forgotten that the Canadian army has twice intervened in Quebec in recent memory, in October 1970 and in the summer of 1990 at Oka-Kanesatake, to prevent the exercise of the right to self-determination. We have not forgotten the threat of an RCMP invasion of Davis Inlet against the Innu of Labrador, nor the use of the Surete du Quebec against Micmac fishing at Restigouche in 1981 and currently on many reserves in Quebec.

We believe that it is essential at this time to call for an and to all threats, bullying and intimidation against the exercise of aboriginal and Quebec nations right to self-determination.

We commit ourselves to an ongoing campaign -- through statements, resolutions, public meetings and, where necessary, protests -- to prevent the subversion of democratic rights. We must make it clear to those in power at every level that we will not tolerate, through our silence, any denial of the rights of nations and national minorities in the name of "national unity."

For more information, or to get involved, phone (416) 968-2583