First Nations
Quebec Labrador
Youth Network

Open letter from the Spokespersons

September 28, 2023

On september 28, following the Chiefs’ meeting in Montreal and just before the march for Joyce Echaquan, our spokespersons joined forces to write a letter to higher-ups.

As youth representatives of the three Atikamekw communities, as well representatives of the First Nations Youth Quebec and Labrador. It was important for us to express our deep and unwavering support for Joyce’s Principle. Three years ago today, this tragic story shook our communities to the core, highlighting the injustices we face as First Nations within the very institutions and public services whose mission it is to ensure our integrity.

Joyce’s Principle reminds us that the inequalities and discriminations we face are not just stories from the past, but persistent realities of our society. That they are systemic. We firmly believe that every individual deserves to be treated with dignity, respect and fairness, whatever their background or culture. Our human rights are no less valuable than those of others.

Adopting this principle at the political level is essential to guarantee vital protection for First Nations youth. It lays a solid foundation for a health and social services system that treats everyone with the dignity and respect they deserve, regardless of their cultural origins. Joyce’s Principle is more than just a statement, it’s a commitment to a future where every child can thrive in a safe environment. As young people, we carry this responsability with determination, knowing that we are guardians of change for future generations. This vision is our compass, and we will continue to advocate for the recognition of these injustices, because systemic problems require systemic solutions.

With Truth and Reconciliation Day just two days away, it’s even more important to remember our history, aknowledge past suffering, and renew commitment to a better future. We urge each of you to take the time to listen, reflect, learn and contribute to sharing. We are convinced that by working together, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal alike, we can build a future where equality, mutual understanding and respect are the norm.

Together, we must work to make Joyce’s Principle a solid foundation on which to build a just, safe and inclusive society. It’s a complex task, but it’s a task that must be accomplished. For reconciliation. For truth.

For generations to come. In solidarity and hope,

Sipi Flamand, Chef de Manawan et porteur du dossier de la jeunesse
Liam-Niko Awashish, Spokesperson for the First Nations Quebec Labrador Youth Network
Marie-Philippe Malec Ménard, Spokesperson for the First Nations Quebec Labrador Youth Network
Kananish McKenzie, Spokesperson for the First Nations Quebec Labrador Youth Network

Véronik Picard, Spokesperson for the First Nations Quebec Labrador Youth Network
Letcya Jean-Pierre, youth representative from the community of Obedjiwan
Olivia Quitich-Ottawa, youth representative from the community of Manawan
Rykko Bellemare, youth representative, Wemotaci
Kosa Chilton, development coordinator, Atikamekw Youth Secretariat