Chiefs from Quebec and Labrador passed the following resolution on Oct. 17. It
denounces recent attempts by Quebec to deny that Aboriginal rights exist in this province.

WHEREAS the case of Cote, Decontie et aI. v. The Queen was recently heard and decided by the Supreme Court of Canada;

WHEREAS the Algonquins concerned, members of an expedition to teach traditional fishing methods, were charged by the Quebec government with not paying permit fees for motor vehicle access or fees for fishing in a controlled harvest zone;

WHEREAS the Quebec government urged the Supreme Court of Canada to accept the following positions, in effect seeking the complete domination, assimilation or subjugation of all Aboriginal peoples in Quebec:

i) Aboriginal peoples in Quebec do not possess the same aboriginal rights as Aboriginal peoples do elsewhere in other provinces;

ii) in particular, in the absence of express recognitions of aboriginal rights by French Colonial authorities, it should be concluded that Aboriginal peoples in Quebec did not have any such fundamental rights;

iii) no Aboriginal peoples have enjoyed any aboriginal rights anywhere in the province for the past 450 years and, therefore, the recognition and affirmation of aboriginal rights in s. 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 have no application whatsoever in Quebec; and

iv) the doctrine of terra nullius (land belonging to no one) should be applied in Quebec…;

WHEREAS it is scandalous that the Quebec government would seek intentionally to obliterate the aboriginal rights of all First Nations throughout Quebec;

WHEREAS it is discriminatory to suggest that, in the absence of express recognition of aboriginal rights by European newcomers (French) to what is now the province of Quebec, Aboriginal peoples did not possess any such fundamental rights;

WHEREAS it is outrageous for the Quebec government to imply that the terra nullius doctrine can be applied in a civil law jurisdiction such as Quebec…;

WHEREAS the prohibition against racial discrimination is a part of customary international law and a peremptory norm, for which no government can derogate;

WHEREAS the Supreme Court of Canada has highlighted the racially discriminatory and colonial arguments of the Quebec government as follows:

“…the (Quebec government’s proposed interpretation risks undermining the very purpose of s. 35(1 ) by perpetuating the historical injustices suffered by aboriginal peoples at the hands of colonizers who failed to respect the distinctive cultures of pre-existing aboriginal societies…”

WHEREAS the Supreme Court of Canada has also underlined that “in its diplomatic relations, the French Crown maintained that the aboriginal peoples were sovereign nations rather than mere subjects of the monarch.”


THAT the Chiefs of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador condemn the racially discriminatory and colonial positions taken by the present Quebec government under the leadership of Premier Lucien Bouchard; …

THAT Prime Minister Jean Chretien and other First Ministers be alerted of the discriminatory positions of the Quebec government, emphasizing once again the need for specific safeguards and affirmations for Aboriginal peoples in the context of any constitutional recognition of a “distinct society” clause (or its equivalent) in favour of Quebec;…

THAT the unacceptable positions being taken by the Quebec government be brought to the attention of human-rights organizations as well as the broader domestic and international community.