'It's going to take a long time,' says Quebec Indigenous affairs minister on improving services

The work Quebec has begun to improve services for Indigenous people is not complete and will take "a long time," Ian Lafrenière conceded Friday.

Lafreniére, the province's minister responsible for Indigenous affairs, was at the Musée de la civilisation in Quebec City to draw up a provisional assessment of his actions, two years after the tabling of the Viens report.

While there has been some progress, he said, most of the work remains to be done: the number of recommendations that are in the process of being addressed has only increased from 51 to 68 in one year.

In his final 2019 report, retired judge Jacques Viens made 142 recommendations.

But Lafrenière asked the population to avoid making a simple "mathematical" calculation. Improving the relationship with Indigenous people, he said, is a "social project."

He added that some recommendations, such as apologizing to Indigenous people and communities, were quick and easy, while others required legislative changes or discussions with the federal government.

On the other hand, $125 million of the $200 million allocated to him to get things done is already committed, he said.

At this point, Lafrenière said, he and the leaders of some 30 Indigenous communities have identified three priorities for the future: youth protection, women's well-being and education.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Sept. 17, 2021.

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