François Legault's apology to Quebec's Indigenous Peoples, word for word
'We need to change things,' Legault says two days after Viens report released
Quebec Premier François Legault apologized to Quebec's Indigenous Peoples Wednesday at the National Assembly Wednesday morning.
The apology was the first of 142 calls to action in a report issued Monday by retired Superior Court justice Jacques Viens.
Legault delivered his apology in French only. Below is an English translation of his full speech.
I'd like to welcome the elders, the grand chiefs and chiefs, the representatives of the First Nations and Inuit communities.
Monday, the report from the public inquiry commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples and certain public services in Quebec was made public.
The findings made by the commissioner were damning for the Quebec state.
The report cites troubling situations where members of First Nations communities were victims of discrimination.
The findings evoke painful feelings. What's at stake here is human dignity. Whether you're a child, a woman or a man. Whether you're of Indigenous origin or not, we are all human beings and we all have a right to our dignity.
Indigenous women are the ones who suffered in large part from the prejudices described in the commission's report.
The Quebec state is not doing enough and this situation is unbecoming of Quebec society.
Consequently, I offer Quebec's First Nations and Inuit the most sincere apology from the entire state of Quebec.
The Quebec state has failed in its duty to you.
It asks you today for your forgiveness.
And I have a thought in particular here of the Indigenous women who have lived through the tragic events in Val-d'Or.
I want to commend their courage.
These apologies are necessary. It's really important but it's not enough. We have to understand the reasons that led us here.
And from now on, we need to change things.
As for Quebec as a whole, we have to do more and we have to do better. We have to do it with the members of First Nations and Inuit communities.
As I said in my opening remarks, we have to work together to develop Quebec for the common good of our respective nations.
Today, with this declaration, I confirm to you that Quebec will respond immediately. I also want to highlight the responsibility of the Canadian government, not to diminish ours, but to call for collaboration at all times.
As of now, the government will carefully examine each of these recommendations and work in collaboration with Indigenous communities. The report rightly underlines that ignorance of the Indigenous realities is very harmful to the relations between our nations.
There are too many stereotypes in regards to Indigenous peoples.
We have to strive to recognize, concretely and every day, the existence of the nations with whom we share this territory.
We have to learn to know each other better, to better appreciate each other, to be closer.
The findings of the commissions are certainly damning.
But I absolutely want to end on a hopeful note.
We can and we must improve our relationship and create conditions that permit Indigenous communities and the Inuit of Quebec to flourish.
It is not a foregone conclusion, because alongside all these noted failures in the commission's report, and the tragedies experienced, there is successful co-existence between our respective nations that shows that this is possible.
In order to succeed, the Quebec state has to absolutely avoid imposing solutions. The keyword is respect. The role of the state and the Quebecois nation, is to be by the side of the Indigenous nations, in the good and in the most difficult moments.
In all cases, the bare minimum constitutes respecting human dignity and our deepest values. It's our duty.
This is the promise we all need to make, all elected officials, all public service employees and all Quebecers.
Watch Legault's full speech