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END OF COP15: First Nations of Québec-Labrador expects governments to uphold their commitments to protect biodiversity and respect our Indigenous and Treaty Rights to our respective territories, including Aboriginal Title

Press Release

WENDAKE, QC, Dec. 19, 2022 – The Assembly of First Nations of Québec-Labrador (AFNQL) and the First Nations of Québec-Labrador (FNQLSDI) took part in the fifteenth edition of the United Nations Conference on Biodiversity (COP15), which took place from December 7 to 19, 2022, in Montreal.

The AFNQL and the FNQLSDI wish to mark the end of this major event by recalling the important participation of First Nations. They presented their projects, initiatives and issues relating to the protection and conservation of biodiversity. COP15 was an opportunity to demonstrate that First Nations have played an important role since time immemorial in the protection and conservation of biodiversity for the next seven generations.

At COP15, the federal and provincial governments announced investments aimed at addressing the decline in biodiversity and protecting 30% of the territory by 2030. Note the commitment of the Government of Quebec to adopt a $650 million “nature plan” to implement conservation measures for natural habitats, to support Indigenous-led nature conservation initiatives and to protect threatened biodiversity. The federal government, for its part, announced funding, notably to support the Indigenous Guardians program and to support the realization of four major Indigenous-led conservation projects.

Although these commitments are interesting, the AFNQL and the FNQLSDI believe that the sharing of financial resources is not adequate to meet the needs of First Nations. For instance, of the $650 million announced by the Government of Quebec, only $23 million – which is less than 4% of the envelope– is allocated to support Indigenous communities in the conservation and enhancement of protected areas in their territories. First Nations in Quebec must benefit more from these investments to implement their own projects and initiatives. They are not simple stakeholders in the management of the territory and its resources. First Nations hold essential knowledge for biodiversity protection and conservation, and hold ancestral and treaty rights in their respective territories.

In addition to an equitable sharing of financial resources, the AFNQL and the FNQLSDI expect concrete actions to flow from the commitments made by governments at COP15. It is time to act for the protection and restoration of caribou and the creation of protected areas: two issues among many others that have been held up for too long by the Government of Quebec.

Finally, the AFNQL and the FNQLSDI reiterate that there is an urgent need to act together in the face of the biodiversity and climate crisis.

About the AFNQL

The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador is the regional political organization that brings together 43 First Nations Chiefs in Quebec and Labrador. www.apnql.com/en

About the FNQLSDI

The First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Sustainable Development Institute (FNQLSDI) was created in 2000 by the Chiefs of the AFNQL. Its mission is to offer First Nations a dynamic service hub, supporting their actions towards maintaining healthy territories and resources, developing sustainable communities, and promoting the recognition of their rights. www.fnqlsdi.ca

For further information: Marie-Celine Einish, [email protected], 418-254-4620

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