March 19, 2013
Ottawa (ON) – “Without a doubt, recognizing First Nations’ rights and responsibilities and fully engaging First Nations is essential to achieving mutually beneficial approaches to sustainable resource development. Today’s announcement of a Special Representative to undertake direct discussion with First Nations while affirming the need for environmental protection and full respect for inherent and Treaty rights is a promising development. At the same time, the Government must be seized with the need for substantive change addressing outstanding land issues through comprehensive claims reform and treaty implementation. We will remain vigilant on this process and insist on the greatest possible engagement, openness and transparency to support First Nations rights and interests to be maximized.”
It is estimated that over $650 billion worth of resource development projects in the coming years will affect First Nations territories. “It will be critical to these projects, and to the Canadian economy, that First Nation people and concerns be addressed respectfully,” said AFN Alberta Regional Chief Cameron Alexis. “Our peoples need to be full partners in development. With partnership comes full participation from revenue sharing to ownership, from employment to environmental stewardship.”
“First Nations seek full compliance and respect for constitutional and all obligations of the Federal Government as set out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). In addition, it is acknowledged in the January 11th meeting with Prime Minister Harper, First Nations will continue to press forward to this government of the profound benefits to working in good faith on all matters that affect our lands, our rights and our people,” said AFN National Chief.
“Certainly one of the biggest public policy issues facing all British Columbians is pipeline development and tanker traffic, and whether or not bitumen and other products can be moved safely across our lands and waters and whether the risks are worth it,” said AFN BC Regional Chief Jody Wilson-Raybould. “For most First Nations the decision has already been made – that the risk is not worth it. Others are still considering their options. All are doing so based on their Aboriginal title and rights, including treaty rights, as the legitimate stewards of their lands and waters.” Wilson-Raybould continued, “Mr. Eyford has his work cut out for him. We look forward to reading his report assuming it will be made public. Ultimately, accommodating our Nations can only occur with recognition of our rights followed by reconciliation with the Crown.”
The Government of Canada appointed The Special Federal Representative, Douglas Eyford, to engage with First Nations communities in British Columbia and Alberta on future energy infrastructure development. The Special Federal Representative will report directly to the Prime Minister and will issue a Final Report by November 29, 2013.
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @NCAtleo, @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.
Jenna Young AFN Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 401; 613-314-8157 or email@example.com
Alain Garon AFN Bilingual Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 382; 613-292-0857 or firstname.lastname@example.org