Happy New Year
Greetings and happy new year to everyone across Turtle Island. I hope that you enjoyed your holidays with friends and family.
My immediate focus as National Chief is working to advance our agenda for change based on your priorities. This means in part building relationships and opening lines of communication in Ottawa and across the country.
Key meetings with the Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, AANDC Minister Bernard Valcourt, Québec Minister Responsible for Native Affairs Geoffrey Kelley, Official Leader of the Opposition Thomas Mulcair, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May and a number of Premiers have taken place. Conveying priorities of First Nations to leaders of Governments in Canada remains my current focus.
The AFN Executive has also held its first meeting of 2015. I will continue to keep you informed on this work. I plan to convene a meeting with former National Chiefs as part of my work to refocus our efforts, revitalize and restructure AFN
Watch for regular bulletins like this one and for updates at www.afn.ca and via social media. If you’re not already following us on Twitter please do at @AFN_Updates and @AFN_Comms and please also check out our official Facebook page.
National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women – February 27, 2015
Ending violence against Indigenous women and girls is a priority for First Nations, and we welcome the commitment of other governments to work with us to achieve safety and security for all. With the intent of developing a coordinated action plan to save the lives of Indigenous women and girls, National Aboriginal Organizations and provincial and territorial governments will come together for a roundtable discussion Friday, February 27, 2015 in Ottawa. The federal government has been invited to participate at this important day of discussion.
National Aboriginal Organizations will host a Families Gathering Thursday February 26, 2015 in Ottawa. Additionally, an open and inclusive Peoples Gathering will be convened at Carleton University in Ottawa on February 27, 2015 to provide space for all voices, perspectives and solutions to be brought forward to prevent and end violence against Indigenous women and girls. Details on both events will be available in February.
The goal of the National Roundtable is to identify solutions and develop a sustained and committed dialogue to implement meaningful and effective solutions that will lead to ending violence against Indigenous women and girls.
This National Roundtable is just one step in our collective journey toward achieving safety and security for First Nations families. It is not the only opportunity for dialogue and it is only one part of our advocacy efforts. It is, however, a tangible opportunity to get all parties to the table. This is why we are urging the federal government to take part, and it is why we also want to hear from you.
The AFN has heard your concerns through forums, assemblies, and social media. We have heard from victims and family members who have bravely shared their stories. The AFN will be taking forward specific priorities and recommendations for action based on the stories, information and guidance we have gathered over many years and informed by the AFN national action plan to end violence against Indigenous women and girls.
We all have a responsibility to ensure the Roundtable is useful. We want to be clear that the Roundtable does not replace our calls for a National Public Commission of Inquiry to address root causes of violence and we will continue to push for an inquiry.
For more information on the National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous women please visit www.afn.ca or directly at: http://www.afn.ca/index.php/en/policy-areas/i-pledge.-end-violence
Personal Education Credits – Extension Achieved
On December 17, 2014 the British Columbia Supreme Court ruled to extend the deadlines for Indian residential schools personal education credits. On January 8, 2015 new deadline dates were directed by the court as follows:
Acknowledgement Forms – NEW Deadline March 9, 2015
Redemption Forms – NEW Deadline June 8, 2015
Payments Finalized – NEW Deadline August 7, 2015
All education programs and services must be concluded by August 31, 2015.
The AFN pressed for a deadline extension in response to the serious administrative concerns expressed by survivors and family members across the country and continues to push for existing administrative concerns to be addressed quickly so that former students of residential schools can more easily access the program.
The personal education credit is the final phase of compensation to Indian residential school survivors as set out in the 2007 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA). It provides a one-time credit of up to $3,000 to former residential school students who have received the Common Experience Payment to be used for personal or group education programs and services provided by approved educational entities. The process to access personal credits was announced in January 2014 and is administered by Crawford Class Action Services.
For direct information from the program administrator please contact Crawford Class Action Services at 1-866-343-1858 or www.residentialschoolsettlement.ca.