Édith Cloutier has been presented with Québec's 2016 Prix de la justice award by the Minister of Justice, Stéphanie Vallée, for her commitment to the defence of Aboriginal rights, her leadership in the fight against racial discrimination, and her contribution to closer ties between peoples.
Ms. Cloutier is a member of the Anishnabe Nation on her mother's side, and of Quebec ancestry on her father's side. At age of only 23 she was appointed as director of the Native Friendship Centre in Val-d’Or which, under her guidance, became a genuine hub for innovative services for First Nations members in the region. Ms. Cloutier's trademark was a dynamic and human approach, based on the identification of solutions. Her contribution extended the influence of the Centre and it won numerous awards including, in 2010, an honourable mention for the Rights and Freedoms Prize awarded by the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse du Québec, for organizing an annual week devoted to raising awareness against racial discrimination.
Édith Cloutier is well-known in various national and international forums for her commitment to the wellbeing of Aboriginals in urban environments, and played a key role as president of the Regroupement des centres d'amitié autochtones du Québec. In this post, she became a prominent spokesperson for issues involving First Nations members living in urban environments and the delivery of services to them. From 2009 to 2014 she co-chaired ARUC-ODENA, a partnership-based structure set up to support the social development of Aboriginal people in Québec cities. Since 2014 she has co-chaired DIALOG, the research and knowledge network relating to Aboriginal peoples.
Through her vision and leadership, Édith Cloutier has established a strong relationship with governments, partners and stakeholders in Québec's civil society. She has also overseen the transfer of major government programs for urban Aboriginals, and played a part in strategic initiatives to promote the rights of Aboriginals.
Her outstanding support for Aboriginal women in Val-d’Or who reported situations of abuse of power led to widespread mobilization to counter violence against women throughout Québec. She then played a key role in the creation of a public inquiry into the systemic factors that harm relations between the Aboriginal peoples and the public authorities.
Édith Cloutier holds a Bachelor's degree in accountancy from Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (UQAT), and continued her involvement with the university as a member of its board of directors from 2004 to 2010, becoming the first Aboriginal woman to chair the board of a Québec university. During her term of office, she helped create the Pavillon des Premiers-Peuples at UQAT.
Her commitment has been recognized through several awards. She was made a Knight of the Ordre national du Québec in 2006 and a member of the Order of Canada in 2013. In 2015, she received a 40th anniversary of the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms Award from the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse for her contribution to the defence of Aboriginal rights.
Édith Cloutier, winner of the 2016 Prix de la Justice award, between the Honourable Nicole Duval Hesler, Chief Justice of Québec and chair of the selection committee, and Stéphanie Vallée, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Québec
(photo : Louise Leblanc)
Édith Cloutier accompanied by Stéphanie Vallée, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Québec, with Geoffrey Kelley, Minister responsible for Native Affairs and Guy Bourgeois, MNA for the prizewinner's region of Abitibi-Est, among the guests present at the 2016 Prix de la Justice award ceremony.
(photo : Louise Leblanc)