Montreal

Ghislain Picard: 'I am a sovereignist for my nation,' not Quebec

The AFN's Quebec chief, Ghislain Picard, clarified his position on Quebec sovereignty in no uncertain terms Monday after causing a minor stir at the PQ's national council meeting with his assertion "I am Innu, and I am a sovereignist."

Chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador clears up confusion over remark at PQ meeting

AFN Quebec regional chief Ghislain Picard clarified Monday what he meant when he told PQ supporters, "I am an Innu, and I am a sovereignist." (CBC)

Ghislain Picard, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, clarified his position on Quebec sovereignty in no uncertain terms Monday after causing a minor sensation at the Parti Québécois's national council on the weekend with his assertion "I am Innu, and I am a sovereignist."

PQ delegates met Picard's words with roaring applause, believing the Innu leader was declaring himself in favour of Quebec sovereignty. 

On Monday, Picard put any confusion caused by his remark to rest, telling CBC Montreal's Daybreak that he is "not at all" a Quebec sovereignist, but an Innu sovereignist full-stop.

Here are extracts from his interview with Daybreak host, Mike Finnerty.

Are you a Quebec sovereignist?

No, not at all. I'm a sovereignist for my nation, and that's where it stops.

What did you mean exactly [by "I am Innu, and I am a sovereignist"]?

I meant exactly what I said. It just shows the gap in terms of the understanding between where we stand as First Nations and as indigenous peoples and the rest of Quebec. The whole issue of sovereignty within our own ranks has always been very clear.

So you believe in First Nations' sovereignty and Innu sovereignty?

Exactly. I made it a point to tell participants at the [PQ] national council that it was very important for them to understand that their sovereignty doesn't prevail over our sovereignty.

Did they think you meant that you're a Quebec sovereignist?

They might have thought they made a good catch that morning, but it's important for us that they understand that we are our own peoples, and with that comes our own principles – which include sovereignty. To us, it's very important that we make that statement.

Would you vote in a future referendum?

No. Quebec people have the right to decide what they want for themselves, but they don't have the right to decide what we want for ourselves.

Would you have the right to decide for yourselves whether you went along with Quebec or stayed with the rest of Canada?

Definitely. We stand by that reality that only we can decide what's best for our peoples. No other government will decide that for us.

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