Québec Solidaire: Nunavik must determine its future
“There is a party that can answer to all their priorities"
If you ask Sylvain Couture, the Québec Solidaire candidate for the Ungava riding, why he decided to run in the Sept. 4 election, he has an answer ready.
The 42-year-old doctor, who worked for years as a doctor in Salluit and other Hudson Bay communities and as medical advisor for the Nunavik health board, said he entered politics for the same reason he became a physician: to make positive change.
Couture, who has now moved to the Montreal area, knows Nunavik well.
“My heart is there,” said Couture in an interview, during which he often refers to the needs of “Nunavimmiut” and the often callous attitude of “Qallunaat” who come to the region to develop its resources.
“All people need to have the right to determine their future,” Couture said.
And Québec Solidaire is the party that would help Nunavik gain more autonomy, he said.
As for “Mr. Charest’s Plan Nord,” Couture said the way the 25-year development scheme is being promoted is not good for Nunavik or for Nunavimmiut.
Although Nunavik needs progress and economic development, Couture wants to see people in Nunavik more involved in the process and says “everyone should sit down together and see how to better do it.”
Nunavik’s other pressing need: housing.
“If we have to do one thing, it would be to give everyone decent housing,” Couture said. “I think Nunavimmiut will be happy to realize there is a party that can answer to all their priorities.”
Québec Solidaire’s platform touches on 35 points, which would see, among other things a call for Quebec’s independence — which Couture says would accommodate Nunavik’s desire for more autonomy as well.
The QS platform also mentions the rights of indigenous peoples.
The party says it will:
• make the National Assembly pass the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, without conditions, and apply it;
• add to all development projects that affect indigenous communities’ territories an agreement with these communities “concerning the type of development and the terms which would best meet their aspirations;”
• “firmly support the steps taken by Quebec’s indigenous women to have their fundamental rights respected, notably their right to security, by increasing funding for shelter for indigenous women and organizations that assist female victims of abuse;” and,
• actively support indigenous communities’ efforts to spread, reclaim, or preserve their traditional languages.
If elected, Couture promises to spend time in Nunavik: his kayaks and all-terrain vehicle are waiting in Salluit for him.
In advance of the Sept. 4 election, Nunatsiaq News has also featured interviews with Parti Québécois candidate and incumbent MNA Luc Ferland, the Liberal Party candidate, Gérald Lemoyne, and Stéphane Robichaud from the Coalition Avenir Québec.