AFN Annual General Assembly – July 17-19, 2012 – Toronto, Ontario
On behalf of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), I offer a special thank you to all those who participated in AFN’s 33rd Annual General Assembly July 17-19, 2012, hosted by the Chiefs of Ontario and the Mississaugas of New Credit in Toronto, Ontario.
Under the theme “Honouring our Past, Taking Action for the Future”, First Nations engaged in AGA business and events like never before. More than 3000 delegates, including First Nation leaders, Elders and youth gathered to celebrate our cultures, languages and traditions and to reaffirm a direction forward. Thousands joined us via live webcast and social media networks, including Facebook and Twitter, and tuned-in to live media coverage by APTN and CPAC. The AFN Circle of Trade showcased 150 organizations and businesses and many delegates took part in special commemorative and cultural events hosted by the AFN AGA Host Committee and Chiefs of Ontario.
During the three-day Assembly, First Nation leaders and technicians engaged in strategy sessions on critical areas for action, including achieving safety and security for Indigenous women and girls, water and infrastructure, education and resource development. Chiefs-in-Assembly passed 28 resolutions and an additional six resolutions were referred to the AFN national executive for consideration. Final resolutions available at www.afn.ca.
During the Assembly, special honours were awarded to the late Dr. Harold Cardinal for Treaty Rights Recognition, Jessica Yee for Youth Advocacy and Dayna McKay for Health Advocacy. Chiefs received a brief yet inspiring address from 13 year old Wesley Prankard from Niagara Falls, Ontario who has championed a campaign raising money for a playground in Attawapiskat and other First Nation communities. His message – “it’s not about charity, it’s about justice”- was welcomed, bringing Chiefs to their feet in applause and prompting the drum group to play an honour song.
In addition to a number of side events prior to and during the Assembly, hundreds took part in the 3rd Annual IndigenACTION 5K Friendship Walk/Run July 15 hosted by the AFN National Youth Council and sponsored by Tim Horton’s, Nike and the Longboat Running Club.
Lastly, I was honoured to accept a renewed mandate as National Chief and am humbled by the opportunity to continue to serve First Nations in this role. I look forward to working closely with all of you as we take forward the important mandates and work our people have entrusted in us.
Council of the Federation – July 25, 2012
On Wednesday July 25, 2012, I along with the leaders of other national Indigenous organizations in Canada met with Premiers and Territorial leaders in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. This meeting was the ninth consecutive such meeting – a now formalized part of the work of the Council of Federation that resulted from strong advocacy from AFN in particular to ensure that First Nations voices are reflected in these forums. As over the last three years, we have pressed for clear commitment on critical areas. While our principal relationship is with the Federal Crown, there are significant ways in which provincial and territorial jurisdictions affect our rights and interests. This year we advanced the need for strategic and specific engagement to enable regionally driven frameworks producing real results.
With a refreshed and clear mandate from First Nation leaders, we took forward First Nation-driven strategies and proposals grounded in rights recognition, Treaties and claims reform. Specific areas of discussion included education, health, resource development, and ending violence against Indigenous women and girls. You’ll re-call the important banner and pledge of non-violence and support to end violence at our recent Assembly. I was pleased by the expressed support of the Premiers to also personally sign-on to the pledge and also express support for our mandate to achieve a National Commission of Inquiry on this matter. We will keep pressing this matter in all forums and we will maintain this as a central priority.
National Executive Committee Planning July 30-31, 2012
In order to advance our work and press for achievement of our mandates right away, I convened a National Executive planning meeting on July 30 and 31st in Ottawa. This was a timely and important opportunity for all to reflect on ways in which we must continue to strengthen how we work together, how we build consensus and how we must support one another to achieve the change our peoples deserve. I want to thank my National Executive colleagues for their contribution to this discussion. From the AGA and now from this planning session, we must renew, clarify and strengthen our abilities to make progress. We will be firmly focussed on advancing and achieving the mandate we have received including bringing new focus to organizational improvements in terms of communications, sustainability, accountability and increased financial independence.
National Assembly on EDUCATION (October 2-4, 2012 – LOCATION TBD)
As resolved at the 2012 AFN AGA, a first priority will be a National Assembly on the priority of EDUCATION, which will take place the first week of October at a central and cost effective location as determined by the national executive. The intent of this Assembly is to provide a central opportunity for us all to come together and achieve change for our children now. Our direction is clear – our peoples have advocated for this change for decades and this is now reflected in our nationally mandated work – ‘First Nation control of First Nation education’. We know that we must ensure full respect for Treaty and inherent rights, we must enable First Nation education systems that are fairly and stably resourced and that every child must be nurtured and supported in their language and culture. We have spent the last three years pressing our case with every level of government, with corporate Canada, with civil society and internationally. Now through national coordination, we can deliver on the path forward fully respecting and supportive of the differences of regions, treaty areas and the ultimate autonomy of First Nations. We can deliver change and we will do so by working together and fully respecting one another.
Our job at the national level is to support First Nation-driven solutions and I will continue to stand in support of all Nations asserting their title and rights and to push for full implementation of Treaty and engagement in development through the very basic standard of free, prior and informed consent.
We will be stead-fast in our efforts and we will not back down. I look forward to continuing our ongoing advocacy and facilitative efforts throughout the summer and when Parliament sits again this Fall.
My hope is for all to enjoy a safe and happy remainder of summer with family and friends, whether it be returning to the land or vacationing with family. Kleco, kleco!
Assembly of First Nations, 473 Albert Street, 9th Floor, Ottawa, Ontario K1R 5B4
Toll-free: 1-866-869-6789 Fax: (613) 241-5808 www.afn.ca