Fight against poverty

It is alarming to compare the current living conditions of the First Nations communities with those of the rest of the population.

It must be admitted that the funding system for the social programs intended for the First Nations does not seem to be adapted to today’s realities. The programs are underfunded and their objectives often do not meet the standards in effect in most of the Canadian provinces.  

This affects many essential programs in addition to creating a complex poverty situation that is too often persistent in the communities.

Agreement with the Ministère de l’Emploi et de la Solidarité Sociale

An agreement with the Ministère de l’Emploi et de la Solidarité Sociale (MESS) enables the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Health and Social Services Commission (FNQLHSSC) to develop ways to fight against poverty and social exclusion. This action plan, which is First Nations specific and appropriate, is composed of two distinct yet interdependent approaches:

  • The community-based approach;
  • The integrated territorial approach.

Community-based approach

Poverty is often associated with the social exclusion, marginalisation and isolation of the First Nations communities. It is essential to involve the communities in the heart of this process aiming to combat poverty and social exclusion.   

This involvement in the problem-solving process empowers and returns pride to the people and thus doubly contributes to improving their living conditions.

Integrated territorial approach

This approach focuses on the potential of the settings and individuals. Structures that are adapted to the First Nations are established so that each community can establish solid connections with outside partners, both private and governmental.   

In entrusting leadership to the various members of each community, the fight against poverty becomes part of a more comprehensive approach respecting the social and economic development of the First Nations.

Fonds québécois d’initiatives sociales

The Fonds québécois d’initiatives sociales – volet Premières Nations (FQIS-PN) is managed by the First Nations and intends to support the various initiatives aiming to combat poverty and social exclusion.  

It includes four broad orientations:

  • Reviewing the ways of doing things and reconciling decisions with the local and regional settings;  
  • Giving value to the work and fostering the autonomy of the individuals;
  • Supporting the income of impoverished people;
  • Improving the living conditions of low income individuals and families.

Development of the social economy

The FNQLHSSC is currently developing a project in order to foster the development of social economy enterprises among the First Nations communities.  

Action research project for sustainable and economic development

The community of Opitciwan, as well as a few other communities in Canada, is benefitting from funding in order to implement an action research project to combat poverty.  

This project, taking place over a five-year period, is the result of a partnership between the Assembly of First Nations, Dalhousie University, Université Laval, the Conseil des Atikamekw d’Opitciwan and the Social Development Sector of the FNQLHSSC[1] .

Food security action plan

The First Nations people have a much higher rate of food insecurity than the Canadian general population.  

A child suffering from hunger is at-risk of having difficulty concentrating at school, which can compromise his/her social development and hinder his/her success at school. Ultimately, this phenomenon contributes to perpetuating a situation of poverty and social exclusion.    

The main objective of this action plan is to counter food insecurity and improve the state of health of the First Nations. To that end, it is necessary to improve food quality in the hope of ensuring healthy and balanced nutrition for those living in situations of poverty.

Healthy nutrition helps to reduce:

  • Stress;
  • Anxiety;
  • Health problems associated with deficiencies and malnutrition.

Several initiatives are already in place to overcome food insecurity:

  • Collective kitchens;
  • Collections of traditional food;
  • Community gardens and greenhouses;
  • Economic initiatives in the context of traditional activities.  

A partnership also exists between the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL), the First Nations Education Council (FNEC), the FNQLHSSC and the Club des petits déjeuners du Québec, as well as a program targeting the development of food security in the context of the Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative (ADI).  


For more information on the various actions undertaken to combat poverty among the First Nations, you can contact Mr. Patrick Bacon: