Premier Pauline Marois met with the Assembly of First Nations in Montreal Monday with a goal of developing better relations with those communities.          

Beginning in 2013, Marois told First Nations chiefs she would like to discuss priorities for the development of northern Quebec, an idea to which the assembly was very open.

The Assembly of First Nations said it was the first time a provincial government ever accepted to sit down at the table with them and discuss the development and exploitation of Quebec's natural resources.

The Marois government and the chiefs met for about three hours in Montreal Monday morning, where they decided that a work group will be created to discuss priorities for the north.

There are four key issues on the agenda:

  • Royalties from the resources
  • Land conservation
  • Co-management of the territory
  • Consultation

Premier Marois said Quebec's First Nations will be consulted before decisions are made, and that the work group should sit down for the first time in early January.

“We would like to involve the community in the gains we can have with the exploitation of natural resources. We will search together (for) how it will be possible to do that,” she said.

Marois said she also wants to review the process of the exploitation of natural resources, to not only maximize the benefits for everyone involved, but also to obey high environmental standards.

The Assembly of First Nations said it is very happy with the government's proposal, but there is still some skepticism.

“Skepticism is still very much present, and the onus is really on the government to make the demonstration necessary in order for us to see the process further. Ultimately, chiefs will have to discuss it, evaluate what we saw this morning. A three-hour discussion is a very, very short period of time,” said Ghislain Picard, regional chief for Labrador and Quebec

Deciding whether the government's eventual proposals merit consideration isn't going to be an easy process, said Picard because there are 10 different nations living in close to 40 communities across the province.