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Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde Calls for Senator Lynn Beyak To Be Removed From Conservative Caucus Following Latest Remarks

on September 20, 2017

September 20, 2017

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde issued the following statement today in response to Senator Lynn Beyak’s recent comments:

“In this era of reconciliation there is no place for the kind of outdated and uninformed thinking expressed by Senator Lynn Beyak,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “Many have reached out to educate her and help her understand our shared history yet she refuses to acknowledge reality. Her comments are hurtful and disgraceful. She should resign, and if she won’t resign she should be expelled from caucus by the Conservative Leader to demonstrate his party’s commitment to truth and reconciliation. There is no room for this kind of thinking in today’s Canada.”

In March of this year, following grossly misinformed comments about the Indian Residential Schools tragedy, National Chief Bellegarde sent a personal letter to Senator Beyak strongly opposing her remarks and providing her a copy of the book A National Crime by noted historian John S. Milloy, which provides a full picture of the history and reality of the residential school system. There was no acknowledgement from Senator Beyak.

The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.  Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.

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For more information, please contact:

Jamie Monastyrski
Press Secretary – National Chief’s Office
613-241-6789 ext. 116
343-540-6179 (cell)
jamiem@afn.ca

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Roy WhiteduckAssembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde Calls for Senator Lynn Beyak To Be Removed From Conservative Caucus Following Latest Remarks

NATIONAL CHIEF BULLETIN – June 2017 – Update on Engagement Sessions on Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act

on July 16, 2017

Announcement of Engagement Sessions by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada 

The Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act (SDWFNA) came into effect November 1, 2013. The Act purports to enable the Government to develop enforceable federal regulations to ensure access to safe, clean, and reliable drinking water; the effective treatment of wastewater, and the protection of sources of drinking water on First Nation lands. 

On May 29, 2017, INAC publicly announced on its website, it would soon begin engagement on a review of the Act

INAC has indicated, through their online SDWFNA Engagement webpage, that sessions will begin June 20, 2017, and will include national and regional meetings, beginning in Prince George June 20 and Vancouver June 22. Dates and locations of upcoming meetings will be posted as information becomes available.

In a letter to INAC Minister Carolyn Bennett, I have informed the government of AFN’s concerns about the proposed short timeline for engagement and the need to change the way the government conducts legislative development initiatives, especially in view of Prime Minister Trudeau’s commitment to a joint law and policy review with First Nations. I have pointed out to Minister Bennett there is an opportunity to work together with First Nations to co-draft appropriate legislation. However, legislation and regulation alone are not enough. Substantial funding must be provided to First Nations to adequately address chronic underfunding, and to ensure sufficient funding for continued operation and maintenance of the drinking water treatment plants.

According to the regional approach for engagement posted on the INAC website: The review will be conducted through region-by-region engagement sessions with each session designed by INAC, with the involvement of a lead First Nation organization and Health Canada.

The objectives of the sessions are to seek First Nations’ input, considerations, and reflections about the current Act and jointly determine how to move forward with the review of the Act.

The Government aims to empower itself to develop new regulations and standards, and does not provide First Nations with any resources to meet those new standards. There remains a concern that without funding, First Nations could face punitive actions for failing to meet regulations.

The Act garnered widespread criticism from First Nations across Canada, and was heavily criticized for lack of meaningful engagement and consultation with First Nations; first as Bill S-11, then as Bill S-8.

The federal government needs to work with First Nations, Regional and Treaty organizations on the development of regulations that impact the management of resources and the health and safety of our citizens. 

Through Resolution 76/2015, AFN has direction to advocate for the repeal of the Act. In accordance with this resolution, I will continue to press for repeal, and the co-development of legislation, rather than unilaterally imposed policies; and for respect of the standard of free prior and informed consent articulated in The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

(Article 19 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples states: States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.)

Kinanâskomitin,

 
Perry Bellegarde
National Chief 

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jordyNATIONAL CHIEF BULLETIN – June 2017 – Update on Engagement Sessions on Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act

NATIONAL CHIEF BULLETIN June 2017 – Announcement on Initiative to Create an Indigenous Languages Act

on July 16, 2017

On June 15, I participated in an announcement with the federal Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Honourable Mélanie Joly, on the co-development of an Indigenous Languages Act. This proposed legislation is aimed at revitalizing, preserving, protecting and maintaining Indigenous languages.

First Nations have been pushing for many years for action to support, promote and strengthen our languages, the original languages of these lands. Language is culture. Language is identity. Language is central to our songs, stories, and ceremonies. Language is fundamental to self-determination. Revitalizing our languages is essential to reconciliation. The recognition, promotion, and recovery of First Nations languages will not only strengthen our Nations but enrich the whole country.

This is why we welcomed the response by Prime Minister Trudeau when he announced his commitment at our December 2016 Special Chiefs Assembly to “enact an Indigenous Languages Act, co-developed with Indigenous Peoples, with the goal of ensuring the preservation, protection, and revitalization of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit languages.” When a country officially recognizes and promotes the recovery of its original languages, the languages get stronger. When our languages get stronger, we get stronger.

June 15 was the formal announcement that the AFN will engage with First Nations to work on legislation to “revitalize, recover, preserve, protect, maintain and promote” First Nations languages. First Nations language champions, educators, Elders and citizens from across the country will be essential in providing input on the legislation.

Our involvement is based on some key principles that will guide this work.

One is that this work must be based on First Nations engagement and guidance throughout all stages. We are hosting a number of engagement sessions, the first one being held June 22 & 23 in Vancouver for B.C. First Nations and Yukon First Nations. On Monday July 24, we shall convene another session prior to our upcoming AFN Annual General Assembly in Regina, SK, and will continue through to the Fall of 2017 for all regions. We will keep you informed of all engagement sessions.

We maintain as well that this work must be based on a distinctions-based approach. Consistent with the commitment to an Indigenous Languages Act, the Métis National Council and the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami were part of the announcement, but each organization is going to oversee outreach and engagement with their own citizens. We know First Nations require our own unique approach to reflect our own unique perspectives, priorities and languages. We are exploring a number of options to ensure the legislation itself reflects a distinctions-based approach.

This work will be based on the recognition that First Nations governments have jurisdiction over languages. Any legislation will recognize First Nations language rights and jurisdictions. It will recognize that languages are fundamental to self-determination. It will be based on the recognition of language rights as inherent rights. The legislation will, among other things, affirm and address the right of First Nations to revitalize, use, develop and transmit their languages to future generations, including through the control of their educational systems and institutions.

We look forward to your ideas and input on this important initiative.

There are more than 58 distinct Indigenous languages and more than 90 distinct languages and dialects spoken on Turtle Island. There are no Indigenous languages that are considered to be safe. The work we are doing here, in companion with the many other efforts we and First Nations are making to support and strengthen our languages, will ensure they survive and thrive.

This work will be a lasting legacy to our children.

 

Kinanâskomitin,

Perry Bellegarde
National Chief

 


A joint statement for the June 15 launch of co-development of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis languages legislation

https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/news/2017/06/a_joint_statementforthejune15launchofco-developmentoffirstnation.html

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jordyNATIONAL CHIEF BULLETIN June 2017 – Announcement on Initiative to Create an Indigenous Languages Act

National Chief Bulletin – Federal Budget 2017

on July 16, 2017

The Liberal government tabled its second federal budget on March 22. This Bulletin provides an initial assessment and analysis as well as a brief overview of the budget items of interest to First Nations. 

The budget allocates $3.4 billion for Indigenous peoples priorities over five years. This budget makes additional investments to help close the socio-economic gap for First Nations, on top of the $8.4 billion in Budget 2016 over five years. However, the key issue is that these investments must lead to real change on the ground in the very near future. First Nations have worked hard to secure key investments in the last two budgets. We know our families cannot wait. Change and results must happen faster and that means the system must move more quickly and efficiently. We must see continued investments to close the gap. We must ensure First Nations enjoy at least the same quality of life as other Canadians and we are fully exercising our rights. First Nations can help this government deliver results because we know better than anyone the needs and priorities for our peoples. We can work together to deliver those results, and we have to move now.

This budget continues key investments and support for First Nations in a number of areas including housing and infrastructure, education and training, policing, and health. The budget references the Prime Minister’s commitment from the AFN 2016 Special Chiefs Assembly to co-develop an Indigenous Languages Act, and this budget commits significantly needed resources to enhance, support and archive Indigenous languages. These new investments are critical because language is directly connected to the health of our children and the health of our nations. We are the youngest and fastest growing population, representing tremendous opportunity and potential in a society that is aging. Investments in our people are investments in our shared future. 

We are attaching a summary of the investments and announcements, and also noting areas that require further analysis.  We will continue to keep you informed of developments across all these areas.

Government of Canada Budget 2017: Investments in Indigenous Issues
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jordyNational Chief Bulletin – Federal Budget 2017

NATIONAL CHIEF Bulletin – December 2016 – Meeting of First Ministers and Indigenous Leaders on Climate Change

on December 14, 2016

Meeting of First Ministers and Indigenous Leaders on Climate Change – December 9, 2016

On December 9, Northwest Territories Regional Chief Bill Erasmus, Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day, Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin Hart and myself led an AFN delegation at the First Ministers Meeting on Climate Change.  The First Ministers Meeting produced a Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, with two jurisdictions expressing concern about various elements of the Framework.

In addition to our AFN delegation, First Nations leadership were represented on several provincial and territorial delegations.  Elder Elmer Courchene opened the meeting and read the AFN Elders’ Statement on Climate Change.

Our advocacy built on the hard work and dedication of our AFN Executive, AFN Advisory Committee on Climate Action and Environment (ACCAE) and direction from First Nations over the past several months as the Pan-Canadian Framework was negotiated.

At this meeting, we secured additional language in the Pan-Canadian Framework ensuring that the federal, provincial and territorial governments respect and safeguard the rights of Indigenous peoples. In addition, consistent with Resolution 97/2016, First Nations Full and Meaningful Inclusion in Climate Action, we have secured a federal commitment to work with the AFN on the development of a First Nations-specific climate change plan to ensure follow up actions on the Pan-Canadian Framework are First Nations-driven.  This will be achieved through the establishment of a jointly-developed and appointed senior level table.  I am attaching the official Statement by the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Perry Bellegarde that was issued upon the close of the meeting.  Information we presented at the meeting is available on the AFN website (www.afn.ca).

Our task now is ensuring that First Nations are fully and effectively engaged on climate action, and to ensure that future climate action, nationally, provincially and territorially, respects and implements the rights of First Nations.

 

National Chief Perry Bellegarde

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rdbrinkhurstNATIONAL CHIEF Bulletin – December 2016 – Meeting of First Ministers and Indigenous Leaders on Climate Change

National Chief Bulletin – August 2016 – AFN-INAC Memorandum of Understanding for a Fiscal Relations Working Group

on August 18, 2016
Memorandum of Understanding for a Fiscal Relationship Working Group
 

On July 13th, at the Annual General Assembly in Niagara Falls, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Bellegarde and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) Minister Bennett signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the work required to establish a new fiscal relationship.

The AFN’s 2015 “Closing the Gap” priorities document called for lifting the 2% cap on annual funding increases to First Nations and the establishment of a new fiscal relationship with the Government of Canada, including new fiscal transfer arrangements with equitable escalators for ongoing funding. In response to the AFN’s advocacy, the Prime Minister made this an important part of his mandate letters to Ministers Bennett (INAC) and Morneau (Finance). At the AFN Special Chiefs Assembly in December, 2015, the Prime Minister again committed to lifting the 2% cap and stated that, “It’s time for a new fiscal relationship with First Nations that gives your communities sufficient, predictable and sustained funding.  This is a promise we made, and a promise we will keep.”

The first step towards this goal is carrying out the necessary technical work. A joint technical working group will be established under the MOU to prepare recommendations and options for the consideration of First Nations leadership and by Canada. The technical working group on fiscal relations is expected to report back to the Minister, the National Chief and Executive by December 31, 2017. A Chiefs Committee on Fiscal Relations also will be established to provide oversight and direction to the AFN representatives on the technical working group.

The recommendations arising from this work will be presented again to Chiefs-in-Assembly for review, discussion and direction before any further steps are taken. As stated in the MOU, it “is not intended to impede or replace any existing initiatives or processes of any First Nation” and “shall not diminish, derogate, abrogate or infringe any existing aboriginal, treaty, legal, inherent or any other rights of First Nations.”

A copy of the MOU is attached to this Communique. Additional information will be made available as the work progresses.

Memorandum of Understanding between the Assembly of First Nations and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada

 

Memorandum of Understanding for a Fiscal Relationship Working Group

On July 13th, at the Annual General Assembly in Niagara Falls, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Bellegarde and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) Minister Bennett signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the work required to establish a new fiscal relationship.

 

The AFN’s 2015 Closing the Gap” priorities document called for lifting the 2% cap on annual funding increases to First Nations and the establishment of a new fiscal relationship with the Government of Canada, including new fiscal transfer arrangements with equitable escalators for ongoing funding. In response to the AFN’s advocacy, the Prime Minister made this an important part of his mandate letters to Ministers Bennett (INAC) and Morneau (Finance). At the AFN Special Chiefs Assembly in December, 2015, the Prime Minister again committed to lifting the 2% cap and stated that, “It’s time for a new fiscal relationship with First Nations that gives your communities sufficient, predictable and sustained funding.  This is a promise we made, and a promise we will keep.”  

 

The first step towards this goal is carrying out the necessary technical work. A joint technical working group will be established under the MOU to prepare recommendations and options for the consideration of First Nations leadership and by Canada. The technical working group on fiscal relations is expected to report back to the Minister, the National Chief and Executive by December 31, 2017. A Chiefs Committee on Fiscal Relations also will be established to provide oversight and direction to the AFN representatives on the technical working group.

 

The recommendations arising from this work will be presented again to Chiefs-in-Assembly for review, discussion and direction before any further steps are taken. As stated in the MOU, it “is not intended to impede or replace any existing initiatives or processes of any First Nation” and “shall not diminish, derogate, abrogate or infringe any existing aboriginal, treaty, legal, inherent or any other rights of First Nations.” 

 

A copy of the MOU is attached to this Communique. Additional information will be made available as the work progresses.

Memorandum of Understanding for a Fiscal Relationship Working Group

On July 13th, at the Annual General Assembly in Niagara Falls, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Bellegarde and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) Minister Bennett signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the work required to establish a new fiscal relationship.

 

The AFN’s 2015 “Closing the Gap” priorities document called for lifting the 2% cap on annual funding increases to First Nations and the establishment of a new fiscal relationship with the Government of Canada, including new fiscal transfer arrangements with equitable escalators for ongoing funding. In response to the AFN’s advocacy, the Prime Minister made this an important part of his mandate letters to Ministers Bennett (INAC) and Morneau (Finance). At the AFN Special Chiefs Assembly in December, 2015, the Prime Minister again committed to lifting the 2% cap and stated that, “It’s time for a new fiscal relationship with First Nations that gives your communities sufficient, predictable and sustained funding.  This is a promise we made, and a promise we will keep.”

 

The first step towards this goal is carrying out the necessary technical work. A joint technical working group will be established under the MOU to prepare recommendations and options for the consideration of First Nations leadership and by Canada. The technical working group on fiscal relations is expected to report back to the Minister, the National Chief and Executive by December 31, 2017. A Chiefs Committee on Fiscal Relations also will be established to provide oversight and direction to the AFN representatives on the technical working group.

 

The recommendations arising from this work will be presented again to Chiefs-in-Assembly for review, discussion and direction before any further steps are taken. As stated in the MOU, it “is not intended to impede or replace any existing initiatives or processes of any First Nation” and “shall not diminish, derogate, abrogate or infringe any existing aboriginal, treaty, legal, inherent or any other rights of First Nations.”

 

A copy of the MOU is attached to this Communique. Additional information will be made available as the work progresses.

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rdbrinkhurstNational Chief Bulletin – August 2016 – AFN-INAC Memorandum of Understanding for a Fiscal Relations Working Group
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