AFNQL elections: Ghislain Picard seeking an 11 term

ÉAFNQL elections: Ghislain Picard seeking an 11 term

Ghislain Picard, local chief of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL).

The member communities of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) will meet on January 25 to elect their regional chief. Before the vote, Métro spoke with the two candidates in the running, Ghislain Picard and Serge “Otsi” Simon. Here is the interview with Mr. Picard, outgoing leader and veteran of the struggles of indigenous peoples.

Even after 30 years as Chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL), Ghislain Picard considers that he has the necessary conditions to do another lap. The Innu activist is seeking an 11th term, in particular to continue to ensure an important place for Aboriginal issues in the public and political space.

In an interview with Métro, M Picard agrees that he is “much closer to the end of [his] political journey than the beginning”. But the man claims that his political conviction and his health are still there.

“I have significant achievements in my pocket over the past few years and I will be able to contribute my knowledge, my expertise and my experience for the collective good of all First Nations”, he mentioned. from the outset.

Be heard at the provincial level

If he considers that the ideal is not still reached, Ghislain Picard considers that Aboriginal issues occupy an increasingly important place in the public and political space. 

“We must continue in this direction and ensure, ultimately, that conventional political discourse does not turn a blind eye to Aboriginal issues. We must seize all the opportunities that present themselves to us to influence the political discourse before the electoral deadline in Quebec,” he said.

At the dawn of a provincial election which will take place this fall, the outgoing leader wants to insist on the territorial issues and access to resources which are fundamental for him. 

According to Ghislain Picard, the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) is not an ally. François Legault's party “still has work to do on the notion of indigenous peoples and the rights they defend,” he explains.

“We have a good interlocutor with the person of Mr. Ian Lafrenière [Minister of Aboriginal Affairs], but I remain on my appetite as to the sensitivity and the involvement of the entire government, including its Prime Minister.”

Ghislain Picard, candidate for re-election as leader of the AFNQL.

“When to make noise and when to negotiate”

In another interview with Métro, his opponent, Serge “Otsi” Simon, says he wants to toughen the tone of the Assembly towards the government if he is elected. On this subject, Ghislain Picard replies that he has always supported the actions carried out by the various Aboriginal nations.

“When the situation requires it, we are able to reinforce the message because there is indifference and contempt for Aboriginal issues that I consider unacceptable,” says Mr. Picard.

That being said, the outgoing leader of the APNLQ also thinks that good cohesion at the political level is necessary. He evokes the principle of “knowing when to make noise and also knowing when to negotiate”.

“This is where the notion of attentive listening comes into play according to the diversity of different communities and nations,” he underlines. […] I have always emphasized to leaders that not all, but a large part of our accomplishments are based on our ability to manage the message and ensure that it is consistent and well understood.”

Post-crisis, a priority

If re-elected, Ghislain Picard will work as a priority on the harmful effects of the pandemic on Indigenous communities and ways to collectively recover from this health crisis. “No one can deny the impact and consequences of the pandemic on our populations, particularly in terms of mental health. I think that we underestimate these impacts,” he says. 

Mr. Picard is also concerned about the load shedding in the health network considering the vulnerability of Aboriginal communities to certain diseases. 

These are the members of the Assembly of Chiefs, the leaders of 43 communities of First Nations, who will participate in the vote on January 25 to elect a new chief between Ghislain Picard and Serge “Otsi” Simon. 

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