The Chiefs of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL) and the Grand Chiefs denounce the fact that, despite promises of co-development, the federal government is still presenting First Nations with an “accomplished fact”, i.e. a legislation on drinking water and wastewater that will be imposed upon them.
On February 15, AFNQL Chiefs, Grand Chiefs and First Nations government technicians met for a regional mobilization on access to drinking water and wastewater treatment in their communities. More precisely, there was discussion on the proposed federal water and wastewater legislation announced a few years ago by the Trudeau government, in accordance with its electoral commitment.
In this context, the AFNQL Chiefs and Grand Chiefs wish to reiterate that the availability of quality drinking water is a right for all First Nations, a right confirmed by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). This declaration is also the subject of an Act passed in 2021 to ensure that the laws of the Parliament of Canada are consistent with the UNDRIP.
The Chief of Kebaowek First Nation Lance Haymond, the portfolio holder of the housing and infrastructure file for the AFNQL, deplores the fact that “Minister Hajdu implies that the law is co-developed with the First Nations. This is not the case! The Chiefs’ position is very clear. When it comes to legislation that affects our members, our communities, we must be at the forefront of the development process”.
Kanesatake Grand Chief Victor Akwirente Bonspille, insists, “There is a need for sufficient infrastructure and capacity to adequately operate within a legislative and regulatory regime for drinking water and wastewater. There is no guarantee that this will be the case at this point. We have more questions than answers!”.
The AFNQL therefore urges the Trudeau government to co-develop, with First Nations, the federal legislation on drinking water and wastewater.
The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador is the regional political organization that brings together the 43 First Nations Chiefs of Quebec and Labrador. www.apnql.com