MONTREAL -- Disappointed with the Legault government's attitude, Indigenous leaders are inviting Quebecers to come forward in favour of reconciliation and the fight against discrimination.

The Chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL), Ghislain Picard, has called on Quebecers to participate in the March for Truth and Reconciliation to be held in Montreal on Thursday. The Assembly of First Nations also encourages all Quebecers who want to be their allies to post a photo or video of themselves on social media with the hashtags #AgirContreLeRacisme and #PremièresNations.

"Over the next few months, we will be providing opportunities and ideas for Quebecers to take action," said Chief Picard.

"There are many organizations that have been mobilizing for the past year and we want to continue in this spirit, to maintain alliances and create others so that the wave becomes so strong that it will be difficult or impossible for the political class, the political actors, to remain indifferent," he said.


Picard presented the results of a Leger poll in Montreal on Wednesday, which he said shows that Quebecers are well ahead of their government in their attitudes towards First Nations.

According to the poll, three quarters (76 per cent) of Quebecers are ready to take action to fight racism and discrimination. In addition, a quarter of respondents say that their perception of Indigenous people has improved in the last year.

But above all, Picard points out, when asked if the government has taken significant action to fight racism and discrimination, more respondents (41) said that they did not believe it had done enough


Picard did not hide his irritation with the Legault government's "denial" of the reality of systemic racism, a concept that Quebec refuses to endorse.

However, he does not see this as an obstacle to the advancement of the Indigenous cause. He acknowledges, for example, that concrete steps have been taken to address the situation at the Centre hospitalier de Lanaudière in Joliette, where Joyce Echaquan died in a hail of racist abuse exactly one year ago Tuesday.

For Chief Picard, a public outcry should help put pressure on the government to take the situation of Indigenous people more seriously.

The Leger poll was conducted from Sept. 24 to 26 with 1,000 respondents. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Sept. 29, 2021