The Native Friendship Center of Val -d'Or and a series of allies describe as “unacceptable and unworthy” the remarks made by the deputy for Abitibi-Est, Pierre Dufour, during the municipal council of Val-d'Or, last May 15 .
Executive Director of the Val-d'Or Native Friendship Center, Edith Cloutier
A statement released on Tuesday describes as a disavowal against the member for Abitibi-Est.
It is also signed by Quebec Native Women, the Regrouping of Native Friendship Centers of Quebec, Amnesty International Canada, Professor Carole Lévesque from INRS, Peggie Jérôme from the organization Mino Obigiwasin, and Professors Suzy Basile and Sébastien Brodeur-Girard, from the School of Indigenous Studies at UQAT.
As an elected official, Mr. Dufour failed in his duty, can we read there . His speech, instead of helping to solve a major societal problem, undermines social peace, reconciliation initiatives between peoples and collaborative efforts between Indigenous and non-Indigenous organizations and institutions working in the field.
On May 15, Pierre Dufour publicly denounced the representatives of the City of Val-d'Or during a meeting of the municipal council where nearly 80 citizens had filled the room to express their anger at the increase in the downtown violence. Pierre Dufour deplored the way Mayor Céline Brindamour was handling the problems of homelessness and delinquency downtown.
Mr. Dufour also denigrated the report of the show Enquêteof Radio-Canada on Indigenous women, in addition to criticizing the Viens commission, responsible for examining the relationship between Indigenous peoples and certain public services.
Pierre Dufour during his speech on May 15 during the public meeting of the Val-d'Or municipal council.
The signatories believe that the oratorical flights of the MP discredit the testimonies of courageous victims and reopen the barely healed wounds, both among Aboriginal women and among the general population. His remarks encourage a radicalization of the discourse that leaves the field open to the expression of racism and systemic discrimination.
The Native Friendship Center and its allies also deplore that these remarks undermine the democratic approach of the Viens Commission, an exercise that nevertheless opens the door to new dialogue and responsible and positive commitments.
In an interview on the show Des matins en or on Tuesday, the executive director of the Val-d'Or Native Friendship Center, Edith Cloutier, said little convinced by the apologies made by Pierre Dufour on his Facebook page and in an interview with Radio-Canada.
Pierre Dufour's words “shocked”, underlines Édith Cloutier
ICI PREMIÈRE SHOW • Des matins en orPierre's words Dufour “shocked”, underlines Edith Cloutier. 13-minute audio content, ICI Première show. Listen to audio.
The day after the city council, I called Pierre Dufour, she says. We have always had a good collaboration and I wanted to express my indignation in person. I wanted to tell him that he failed in his role to represent all of his citizens, which includes homeless people and indigenous women.
“I didn't feel any remorse and it wasn't followed by very concrete actions. He apologizes for having offended sensibilities, but for sincere apologies, we talk a lot more about the impact that words can have on vulnerable people. It's a shame and it's damaging. »
— Édith Cloutier
Concerning the issue of homelessness and delinquency in downtown Val-d'Or at the heart of this issue, Édith Cloutier recognizes that the situation is problematic. She repeats that the Native Friendship Center takes important actions on a daily basis.
We collaborate with all those who have the job of bringing social peace. There is not just one solution, but if people feel insecure, there is a growing reality of homelessness. Faced with the unknown, it generates fear and discomfort. Our job is to reduce this feeling of insecurity as much as possible. It's not easy to implement a series of solutions, but it takes resources, energy, money and above all time to do it properly in a complex context, she adds.< /p>
President of Quebec Native Women, Marjolaine Étienne fears that Pierre Dufour's comments on the 2015 Inquiry report will have an impact on the willingness of Indigenous women to report abuse.
It can have consequences, it can slow them down, she says. Women took their courage in both hands in 2015 to denounce a situation. We are in 2023 and it is resurfacing. It is important to react to unacceptable remarks by an MP.
Marjolaine Étienne, president of Quebec Native Women. (File photo)
Indigenous Women reiterates its demands to the government for recognition of systemic racism and to adopt Joyce's Principle.
We hear that the Joliette event was an isolated case, we bounce back in Val-d'Or with this case, notes Marjolaine Étienne. These are not isolated cases. Everything connects. If we work on the recognition of systemic racism, we can at least minimize the trends we are seeing these days, either in Val-d'Or or elsewhere. Otherwise, it is transported at different levels.