More than 900 First Nations leaders, Elders, Knowledge Keepers, Women, Youth and Veterans from across Canada virtually joined together from December 7-9, 2021 for the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Special Chiefs Assembly (SCA) hosted by the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation. Chiefs-in-Assembly assessed progress and deliberated First Nations priorities ranging from the implementation of a national action plan to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act to the development of distinctions-based health legislation.
Chiefs-in-Assembly passed a total of 33 resolutions, including reaffirmed support for the role and mandate of the AFN Women’s Council, amending the AFN Charter to establish a 2SLGBTQQIA+ Council, and support for the United Nations International Decade of Indigenous Languages. Final resolutions will be available on the AFN website in January 2022.
SCA delegates honoured former New Brunswick/Prince Edward Island Regional Chief Roger Augustine for his long-time leadership and advocacy and his many contributions as a member of the national AFN Executive Committee since 2008.
In her remarks, AFN National Chief RoseAnne Archibald called on all levels of government to support the Healing Path Forward agenda and identified First Nations recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic as a priority. National Chief Archibald also addressed the need for accountability following the recoveries of First Nations children from former institutions of assimilation and genocide.
The AFN welcomed a number of special guests, including the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole, New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh and federal ministers, including Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Marc Miller, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti and Minister of Indigenous Services Canada Patty Hajdu.
Highlights from these guest remarks include a commitment by Prime Minister Trudeau to walk the lifelong journey of a shared path to reconciliation with First Nations and all Canadians, which includes working faster on implementing the Calls for Justice of the National Inquiry into Missing Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, along with prioritizing implementing the Calls to Action, First Nations economic empowerment and self-determination.
The AFN Circle of Trade Virtual Exchange welcomed SCA participants and featured six First Nations and Indigenous businesses, organizations and sponsors, offering networking opportunities with industry experts.
The AFN thanks First Nations leadership, delegates and sponsors for their active participation in the 2021 virtual SCA and wishes everyone a safe, healthy and restful holiday season. We look forward to continuing to build a healing path forward for First Nations and all Canadians now and in the coming year.