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June 22nd, 2018

Statement by Romeo Saganash regarding the comments made by Minister Barrette

NDP Reconciliation Critic, Romeo Saganash, issued the following statement:

“Yesterday, on National Indigenous Peoples Day, I learned of the deeply held racism and hatred Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette has for my community and constituents in the North.

It is an insult that Quebec is the only province in Canada that systemically prevents Northern families from travelling with their children to hospitals in the South during medical emergencies or evacuations by plane.

I was relieved and hopeful when I learned this policy was changing. That relief disappeared yesterday morning when the CBC and Le Devoirreleased a recording of Mr. Barrette’s comments. The stereotypes he expressed are rooted in colonial violence. They are harmful to Indigenous families and those who experience addictions. There is no excuse for this racist policy, and the fact that Mr. Barrette felt that he could make these statements is disgusting.

I strongly agree with the statement of Kuujjuaq Mayor Tunu Napartuk: Mr. Barrette should represent all the citizens of Quebec, including the Inuit of Nunavik. I also wish to echo his call for the resignation of Minister Barrette.

Finally, I want to draw attention to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Article 24(2): Indigenous peoples have an equal right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. States shall take the necessary steps with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of this right.

The human rights of these children and families are being denied because of the racist and colonial ideas of an elected official in the Quebec National Assembly. This is unacceptable and cannot continue.”