The 2017 Rights and Freedoms Award will be presented to eight initiatives that have promoted the recognition and respect of Indigenous peoples rights throughout Québec, announced today the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse.
The Commission has chosen the theme of Indigenous rights to mark the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
“We congratulate the eight recipients for their exceptional contribution to the recognition and advancement of Indigenous rights among their communities, their Nations and throughout Québec”, has declared Camil Picard, Acting President of the Commission. “These recipients have been selected by an outstanding jury because of their great involvement. I want to take this opportunity to thank the jury for contributing to the success of the 2017 Rights and Freedoms Award”.
The jury members are Viviane Michel, President of Quebec Native Women, Béatrice Vaugrante, Executive Director of Amnistie internationale Canada francophone, Ghislain Picard, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, and Alexandre Bacon, cofounder of Cercle KISIS.
The Award will be presented during a ceremony held on December 10 that will be streamed live on the Commission’s YouTube channel starting at 11:00 am. The recipients are the following :
- The Ndakinna Office of the Grand Conseil de la Nation Waban-Aki documents traditional uses and occupation of the Ndakinna territory by the W8banakiak people (Abenakis) in order to ensure protection for their ancestral rights. The Office’s consultations have help build constructive dialogue between promoters, organizations and government ministries in favour of Nation members and to be the voice of the W8banakiak people throughout the territorial planning process.
- The Atikamekw Nehirowisiw Declaration of Sovereignty seeks to raise awareness of and ensure the recognition of Atikamekw Nehirowisiw ancestral rights within the general population of Québec and Canada. This declaration has helped to emphasize Atikamekw presence on the territory during traditional activities and has fostered a new respect from non-Indigenous users.
- The Centre des Premières Nations Nikanite de l’Université du Québec à Chicoutimi provides Indigenous UQAC students a welcoming place that offers the guidance and educational support they need to foster their academic success, in keeping with their culture. The Nikanite Centre also educates the academic community and the general public about Indigenous realities and cultures.
- The poetry of Natasha Kanapé Fontaine, poet/performer, actress, visual artist and Indigenous and environmental rights activist. Kanapé Fontaine is an Innu from Pessamit, in Québec’s Côte-Nord region. Her artistic and literary approach aims to bring people from different origins together through dialogue, discussion, sharing of values, and through the “tanning of hides”, a metaphor for scratching below imperfect thoughts and consciences.
- The Institut Tshakapesh’s Sous le Shaputuan program offers awareness activities are open both to youth in elementary, high schools, colleges, universities, and to the general public throughout Québec. Over the past 10 years, the Institut Tshakapesh’s Sous le Shaputuan program has introduced more than 100,000 young people of all ages to Innu culture.
- The Montréal First Peoples Festival is an annual ten-day event held on unceded Mohawk territory for the past 27 years. The stated purpose of this annual cultural event is to foster kinship among peoples and respect for differences in a spirit of friendship. It is a place where cultures can meet and reconciliation can occur.
- Avataq Cultural Institute is a non-profit charity organization incorporated in 1980 with an all-Inuit Board of Directors living in Nunavik. Its mandate is to protect and promote Inuit language and culture so that Inuktitut and Inuit culture may be preserved for present and future generations. Avataq has continually returned to seek out and consult the wisdom and leadership of Inuit Elders, and to this day is guided by the concerns, hopes, and long-term vision expressed by Elders.
- Sébastien Grammond, judge to the Federal Court, and Christiane Guay, associate professor at the Université du Québec en Outaouais and a social worker, have been working, for nearly ten years, to expand knowledge regarding governance in Indigenous communities in the field of youth protection, an area that remains poorly documented in francophone Indigenous communities. Their work has, among other things, contributed to recognize, for the first time in Québec, Indigenous legal traditions, including customary Aboriginal adoption.
Presented since 1988 on the occasion of International Human Rights Day marking the adoption of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights December 10, 1948, the Rights and Freedoms Award is each year to an organization or an individual as a public recognition for exceptional achievement or commitment to the defence of human rights and freedoms.
The Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse (Human Rights and Youth Commission) ensures the promotion and respect of the principles set out in the Québec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. It also ensures that the interests of children are protected and that their rights recognized in the Youth Protection Act are respected and promoted. In addition, the Commission oversees compliance with the Act respecting Equal Access to Employment in Public Bodies.