Cambridge, Massachusetts - October 28, 1996: In another foray into the U.S. political and academic scene that has served his people so well, Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come today addressed a joint seminar of the Center for International Affairs and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
On the anniversary of the referendums that the Crees, the Inuit and the government of Quebec held one year ago, Chief Coon Come told his Harvard audience: "The Bouchard government is now pursuing an odious and discriminatory solution in its quest for absolute sovereignty over the corner of North America they call their own. They are systematically minimizing and denying our status as a people and our Aboriginal, treaty and constitutional rights."
Chief Coon Come concentrated his remarks the Harvard University scholars and researchers on the Quebec government's formal submission to the Supreme Court in the CitC case in June. Coon Come stated: "In this case, the Quebec government took the extreme position that the fundamental Constitutional rights of the Algonquins, Crees, Inuit, Huron, Naskapi, Mohawks, Abenaki and all other Aboriginal peoples simply do not exist in Quebec, and have not existed there for 450 years."
In a piercing analysis, Chief Coon quoted liberally from Quebec's submission to the Supreme Court and this month's ruling of the Supreme Court in the case, in which the Attorney General of Quebec asserted that Quebec was terra nullius (land belonging to no-one) when it was discovered by the French. "The Supreme Court declared that Quebec's position was founded on unjust discrimination and was contrary to both international standards and our fundamental values", Chief Coon Come said. "The Chief Justice stated that Quebec's position would perpetuate the historical injustice suffered by aboriginal peoples at the hands of colonizers."
"Let there be no mistake about this: the Bouchard government of Quebec has formally advocated the obliteration of the fundamental rights of Aboriginal peoples in Quebec, on the basis of the continued application of an discredited, unjust and discriminatory doctrine," Chief Coon Come said.
Coon Come called for the international community's involvement in assuring the rights of his people in the context of the possible secession of Quebec. "This is an issue that concerns fundamental human rights. We call upon you to raise your pens, your voices, and your objections against any and all violations of our rights."
Bill Namagoose (613)761-1655 or (cellular) (613)725-7024
Brian Craik (613)761-1655 or (613)724-1097
Full text of Coon Come's speech (32k)