News

AFN Bulletin – Meeting of Premiers & Indigenous Leaders August 2014

on September 3, 2014

Meeting of Premiers and Indigenous Leaders – August 27, 2014 – Charlottetown, PEI

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Ghislain Picard participated in a meeting of Premiers, Territorial Leaders and leaders of National Aboriginal Organizations Wednesday August 27, 2014 in advance of the Council of the Federation Summit in Charlottetown, PEI.

National Chief Picard spoke to the urgent need for action to end violence against Indigenous women and girls, and outlined other key priorities for First Nations, including education, economic development, housing, national disaster mitigation, child and family services and health.  Following the meeting, National Chief Picard wrote to Premiers and leaders and submitted the paper “Taking Action Together on Shared Priorities: for the future of Indigenous Peoples and all of Canada” outlining specific recommendations in priority areas.  Both the letter and paper are available at www.afn.ca and directly at:  http://www.afn.ca/index.php/en/national-chief/highlights-from-the-national-chief/letter-to-the-premiers-from-national-chief-picard-afn-submission-to-th.

Premiers and Territorial Leaders renewed their support for a National Public Commission of Inquiry and agreed to call for a national roundtable with federal ministers as an interim measure to move action forward.  Additionally, they agreed to work together on the development of a Socio-economic Action Plan for Aboriginal women at the upcoming National Aboriginal Women’s Summit taking place in October, 2014 in Nova Scotia to address ongoing challenges and root causes of vulnerability to violence.

First Nations across Canada continue to make individual and collective efforts to improve the lives of all of their citizens, including taking steps to address the systemic barriers currently preventing safety and security for women, girls and families.  Chiefs-in-Assembly have led a personal pledge to take all efforts to end violence and endorsed a national action plan in 2012.  The Assembly of First Nations will continue to strongly advocate for immediate action to end violence which includes but is not limited to a National Public Commission of Inquiry.

read more
rdbrinkhurstAFN Bulletin – Meeting of Premiers & Indigenous Leaders August 2014

BULLETIN 35th Annual General Assembly

on July 29, 2014

July 2014

The Assembly of First Nations issues regular updates on work underway at the national office. More information can be found at www.afn.ca.

Annual General Assembly – July 15-17, 2014 – Halifax, Nova Scotia

The 35th Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Annual General Assembly (AGA) took place in Mi’kmaq territory Halifax, Nova Scotia, July 15 – 17, 2014.  More than 1,100 First Nation leaders, Elders and youth gathered to address priority issues and set direction and strategy for the coming weeks and months.Annual General Assembly – July 15-17, 2014 – Halifax, Nova Scotia 

The AFN AGA was preceded by a National Youth Summit that took place in Halifax on Sunday, July 13 and a Confederacy of Nations meeting on Monday, July 14, 2014.

During the three-day Assembly, 302 Chiefs-in-Assembly passed 33 resolutions in priority areas, including a commitment to fully review the way the AFN is structured and operates to ensure it evolves and adapts as First Nations rebuild their nations and assert their sovereignty and jurisdiction.  Other resolutions provided direction on Treaty implementation, engaging on First Nations control of First Nations education respecting regional approaches, needs and diversity, funding for post-secondary education, appointment of a Chiefs Committee on hydraulic fracturing, reconciliation and justice for survivors of residential schools, among others.  All resolutions are available at www.afn.ca or directly at this link: http://www.afn.ca/uploads/files/resolutions/afn_aga_2014_resolutions.pdf

Chiefs-in-Assembly also decided the next election for AFN National Chief will take place at a Special Chiefs Assembly in Winnipeg, Manitoba from December 9 – 11, 2014.  Chiefs also appointed Quebec/Labrador Regional Chief Ghislain Picard to the role of National Chief until the 2014 election.

The AGA Host Committee organized a number of successful cultural events, including an evening Gala dinner.  AGA delegates stood united in a Circle of Hope, demanding action to end violence against missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and reiterated calls for a National Public Commission of Inquiry.  A blanket dance was held for Marlene Bird, a victim of violence in Saskatchewan, and $4,508 was raised for her care and treatment.

Watch for regular updates regarding the December 2014 AFN election for National Chief.

read more
rdbrinkhurstBULLETIN 35th Annual General Assembly

AFN Bulletin – July 2014

on July 7, 2014

Confederacy of Nations – Monday July 14, 2014, Halifax, NS

A Confederacy of Nations Meeting is scheduled for Monday July 14, 2014 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the main ballroom at the World Trade and Convention Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia. 

Registration will be available at the World Trade and Convention Centre on Sunday July 13 from 4:00 – 8:00 p.m. and on Monday July 14 starting at 7:30 a.m.  There is no fee for appointed delegates, students, Elders or Veterans.  All other observers must pay a fee of $50. 

The AFN Executive has proposed the following agenda for the one-day meeting:

9:00 a.m.         Opening

Review and Adoption of Rules of Procedures

Review and Adoption of Draft Agenda

9:30 a.m.         Education – Discussion on the Path Forward

11:00 a.m.       AFN Election – Chief Electoral Officer Discussion

12:00 p.m.       Lunch

1:30 p.m.         AFN Reform

5:00 p.m.         Closing Prayer 

The Confederacy of Nations is a body within the AFN defined in the AFN Charter as “the governing body between assemblies of the First Nations-in-Assembly” and accountable to Chiefs-in-Assembly. For more information please visit www.afn.ca or directly at http://www.afn.ca/index.php/en/about-afn/the-assembly-of-first-nations-confederacy-of-nations-about

This meeting will bring together appointed delegates from each region on the basis of one representative per region, plus one for each 10,000 First Nation citizens of that region.  According to the Assembly of First Nations Charter, each region must elect or appoint representatives at a meeting convened for that purpose.  For more information on the process of appointing delegates please contact the office of the Regional Chief for your region.

The number of delegates per region has been confirmed as follows:

Confederacy of Nations Delegates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Confederacy of Nations Votes

Province

Off-Reserve

On-Reserve

Total

1 Per Region

1 Per 10,000

Total

NB/PEI

6,396

 9,858

 16,254

 1

 2

 3

NS/NFLD

31,995

 13,224

 45,219

 1

 5

 6

QC

27,479

 54,846

 82,325

 1

 9

 10

ON

106,192

 93,115

 199,307

 1

 20

 21

MB

58,745

 88,213

 146,958

 1

 15

 16

SK

73,893

 70,654

 144,547

 1

 15

 16

AB

44,660

 72,620

 117,280

 1

 12

 13

BC

76,219

 62,233

 138,452

 1

 14

 15

YT

5,101

 3,990

 9,091

 1

 1

 2

NT

6,141

 12,304

 18,445

 1

 2

 3

 

436,821

 481,057

 917,878

 10

 95

 105

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Indian Register, AANDC –  as of December 31, 2013

 

 

 

Annual General Assembly – July 15-17, 2014 – Halifax

The 35th AFN Annual General Assembly will take place in Mi’kmaw territory in Halifax, Nova Scotia from July 15-17.  Hundreds of First Nation Chiefs, Elders and youth will gather under the theme “Together as Nations: Educate, Empower, Enlighten” to determine a path forward to address key priorities based on First Nations rights, Treaties, title and jurisdiction, guided by the vision of safe, healthy and thriving communities. 

A provisional draft agenda is available on the AFN website at www.afn.ca or directly athttp://www.afn.ca/uploads/files/14-06-12_aga_provisional_draft_agenda_fe2.pdf.

The Host Committee for the 2014 AGA is organizing a number of exciting cultural activities and special events during the AGA.  For more information please visit www.afn.ca or http://www.afn.ca/index.php/en/the-35th-annual-general-assembly.

read more
rdbrinkhurstAFN Bulletin – July 2014

Statement from Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo

on May 28, 2014

May 2, 2014 

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo made the below statement in Ottawa, ON today.

“I have stated clear priority on the recognition of Treaty, of Indigenous rights and title, on the safety and security of our most vulnerable, and I have also made my priority on education for our kids plainly clear. 

I have said it is OUR TIME as Indigenous peoples, that we must smash the status quo and that my job is as an advocate to open doors for First Nations to drive change. 

It is on this basis that we have worked very hard to achieve a new conversation between Canada and First Nations – a conversation grounded in recognition, respect and ultimately reconciliation, and to reach a realization that stronger First Nations are vital for a stronger Canada. 

I have had the great honour and privilege to visit over one hundred First Nation schools in every region.  It is the time spent with kids, their dedicated teachers – the parents and the grandparents that has both inspired me and created a steely resolve and determination.  I think of the late Shannen Koostachin, young boys and girls in remote northern communities like young Jayden – you’ve heard me reference so many times before. It is the spark in their eyes and the knowledge that as leaders – as the adults – we must get this right – right now. 

The work before us is absolutely challenging – if it were easy, it would have been accomplished by now. Today’s conversation began over 40 years ago with the remarkable leadership of the late George Manuel and many others.  Indian control of Indian education in 1972 – a policy statement crafted by our own educators including Verna Kirkness remains a powerful affirmation of our resilience and our determination to achieve change and justice for our children through education. 

Smashing the status quo means ending the glacial pace of change for our people and providing full support for growth and success.  Smashing the status quo means new approaches grounded in recognition and in reconciliation. 

The current discussion and diverse views remind us within the Assembly of First Nations that we too have much work ahead.  The inspiration behind the creation of the Assembly of First Nations was to serve as an advocacy body – bringing together the Nations and supporting one another.  I have encouraged reflection on our processes and approach within the Assembly to reflect a sense of re-building our Nations. 

Smashing the status quo means that everyone has a role to play. The status quo should NOT be acceptable to any political party – the NDP, the Liberals or the Conservatives.  This status quo should also never be acceptable to our Chiefs and leaders. 

This work is a challenge for all Parliamentarians and it is a challenge for our Nations. Everyone knows the recent history here – of an open letter and of a clear resolution and five conditions.

Throughout and, with that mandate of Chiefs, I and many others with me have done everything possible to achieve this change.  

I am very proud of the work accomplished – very proud of our collective efforts to overcome the status quo on this issue and others. 

We’ve been through important and sincere efforts before – in constitutional negotiation, a Royal Commission, and other more recent important efforts such as Kelowna taken forward by former Prime Minister Paul Martin.  The current proposal on education is the latest attempt and a sincere, constructive effort on the part of Prime Minister Stephen Harper to take a step forward. 

This work must be understood in that context – as a challenge, not for me, or any one individual – but a challenge and a call to action for the entire country. 

I have fought for this work and to achieve this mandate.  This work is too important and I am not prepared to be an obstacle to it or a lightening rod distracting from the kids and their potential.   I am therefore, today resigning as National Chief. 

I have carried out my actions based on principle and integrity.  Personally, I believe this work must happen.   It can and should happen in parallel to other efforts addressing fundamental questions of ‘how’ we do this work.  Now the work started so many years ago must continue.  It must continue in every community and it must continue within Parliament.  I challenge every party and every First Nation to carry forward this work.  Failure is simply not an option.  Fighting for the status quo is simply not acceptable. 

Today I express my deepest gratitude for the support, the generosity and the respect afforded to me by First Nations and increasing multitudes of Canadians across this country.  I have been deeply honoured to serve. 

I will, as I have all of my life, continue this struggle in other ways. I want to thank all of those who have quietly worked for education and for our kids.  While people do not hear or see them today – YOU will emerge as the heroes of this work in the future.”

 

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.

 

-30-

 

Contact information: 

Jenna Young, Assembly of First Nations Communications Officer  613-241-6789, ext 401 or cell: 613-314-8157 or email jyoung@afn.ca

OR

Alain Garon, Assembly of First Nations Bilingual Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 382 or cell: 613-2920857 or email agaron@afn.ca

read more
rdbrinkhurstStatement from Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo

Technical Bulletin – Resignation of National Chief and Next Steps

on May 12, 2014

May 2014

The Assembly of First Nations issues regular updates on work underway at the national office.  More information can be found at www.afn.ca.

Resignation of AFN National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo

AFN National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo resigned on May 2, 2014, stating:  “This work [education] is too important and I am not prepared to be an obstacle to it or a lightning rod distracting form the kids and their potential.”  The full statement is available on the AFN website at www.afn.ca or by clicking here online

The National AFN Executive Committee acknowledged former National Chief Atleo in a written statement May 7, thanking him for his dedicated and tireless efforts to achieve change for First Nations and all of Canada.  That statement is also available at www.afn.ca or by clicking here online

The National AFN Executive met May 5-6 in Ottawa to discuss an appropriate course of action and next steps consistent with the AFN Charter. 

Next Steps and Key Meetings 

The work of AFN continues in priority areas as mandated by Chiefs with Regional Chiefs continuing to oversee work in their designated portfolios.  At their meeting May 5-6, the AFN Executive agreed to appoint AFN Regional Chief for Quebec-Labrador Ghislain Picard as spokesperson for the Executive until such time they determine otherwise.  

The AFN will convene a meeting of the Chiefs Committee on Education (CCOE) in Ottawa May 15.  This is an expanded meeting that will include Chiefs and technicians not currently on the CCOE. 

The AFN will also convene a Special Chiefs Assembly in Ottawa May 27 at the Westin Hotel.  The purpose of the Special Chiefs Assembly is to:

  • confirm an approach going forward on Bill C-33 and First Nations education; and
  • to make a decision on the timing and location of the election for National Chief. 

 

More information and details on both meetings are still being finalized and will be provided as soon as possible, including at www.afn.ca.

read more
rdbrinkhurstTechnical Bulletin – Resignation of National Chief and Next Steps

Communiqué from National Chief Shawn Atleo – April 2014

on April 2, 2014

The Assembly of First Nations issues regular updates on work underway at the national office. More information can be found at www.afn.ca.

 


 

APRIL UPDATE: FIRST NATIONS CONTROL OF FIRST NATIONS EDUCATION and ACTION ON MISSING AND MURDERED INDIGENOUS WOMEN AND GIRLS

The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is pleased to offer this update on some current issues for First Nations and the continued priorities of First Nations in achieving change for our peoples, communities and nations. 

First Nations Control of First Nations Education: A framework to achieve success in First Nation education 

Last week, I had the honour to participate in the final national public event of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, during which I said that I believed the time had come to support one another fully and to put the next generation first.  We will never forget the residential schools.  It is a legacy we know too well as we live it every day.  But I hear many voices telling us that we must not pass the burden on to another generation.  They must learn of this history but they also must learn about themselves, their identity as proud First Nations citizens, their songs, stories and languages.  We are still here and we are strong.  Perhaps our ultimate response to the residential schools is to say loud and clear to all of Canada: we are still here, and we will again resume our rightful place and our responsibilities to nurture our children, to protect and to advance our languages, our cultures, our lands and territories. 

I have visited many communities and I hear a great deal of support for action on education, and I also hear concerns.  I fully understand these responses.  This work is critically important and we must get it right.  We cannot abandon another generation to a failing system and collapsing schools. The last thing we want to do, though, is to take no action or, worse, allow the government to do this work for us.  Neither alternative is acceptable.  We will not tell our children and students that they must wait longer for the quality of education they deserve.  We can never let the government move on unilateral approaches that could compromise our rights, Treaties, title or jurisdiction or contradict the spirit of our agreements.

This is why the direction received from Chiefs-in-Assembly last December was so critical. Resolution 21/2013 set five clear conditions for the path forward and mandated urgent attention and action at the national level to have the conditions fully met, including secure and fair funding guaranteed for our kids.  This work is important and it builds on decades of advocacy, research and experience. The conditions stem from our 2010 position paper First Nations Control of First Nations Education, which in turn builds on the 1972 policy paper Indian Control of Indian Education and numerous reports, studies and contributions from First Nations leaders and education experts.

Based on our collective advocacy, we successfully secured significant new funding for First Nations education and we have once and for all eliminated the 2% cap that’s been holding our students back (see attachment).  In addition, the Government announced it would meet the five conditions in new legislation affirming First Nation control of First Nation education.  The advocacy to get us to this point has been important and consistent with the clear mandate set by Chiefs-in-Assembly.  Still, it will be up to every region, every First Nation to determine their next steps and response in accordance with their rights, responsibilities and direction from their people to fully advance education success for all of their students. 

It is important to remember that this process will be a long journey with these being only the first few steps.  Affirming First Nation control, ensuring fair, stable funding including support for languages and culture is only an interim step to First Nations themselves advancing their own systems through nation-to-nation discussion and confirmation of their own agreements, Treaty implementation or First Nation laws and arrangements with others. 

To support the analysis and effort going forward, AFN compiled First Nations Control of First Nations Education: A framework to achieve success in First Nation education.  This document, available on the AFN website, expands on the five principles of First Nations control and sets out key elements for each principle.  A draft of this framework was shared with the Chiefs Committee on Education in January 2014 to obtain local and regional perspectives.  I encourage you to review the framework but want to briefly note some points from the framework as to what we will be looking for in any federal legislation: 

Jurisdiction

  • Respects and recognizes inherent rights and title, Treaty rights, and First Nation Control of First Nation Education jurisdiction. First Nations must retain all options to advance their education and all such agreements must be fully respected, enabled and supported.  On this point, we must be perfectly clear in our expectation that First Nations Treaty and inherent rights will be respected.  Agreements advancing First Nation education through Treaty implementation, nation-re-building or self-government will be respected, enabled and supported. 

 

Funding

  • Provides a statutory guarantee for funding of First Nations education as a precondition that is sustainable and reflects needs-based costs consistent with Canada’s obligation.  The elimination of gaps in funding is required, including the removal of restraints as well as the establishment of a fair rate to respond to growth in demographics and education needs. There must be support for transition and the development of systems, explicit support for language and culture programming and support that guarantees safe, secure, healthy learning environments and facilities. 

 

Language and Culture

  • Enables and support systems to provide full immersion and grounding of all education in Indigenous languages and cultures.  First Nations education requires the inclusion of First Nations knowledge and languages and it requires teaching and learning in those languages and cultures.  Language and culture must be funded as core curriculum.  Cultural experts, Elders and parents must be fully engaged in First Nations education systems. 

 

Reciprocal Accountability and Transparency

  • Develops mechanisms to oversee, evaluate, and provide for reciprocal accountability and ensure there is no unilateral federal oversight and authority.  First Nations education must be controlled and supported by First Nations. First Nations must have the autonomy to design systems, codes and laws.  Parental involvement and parental responsibility assured by transparent local control is the basis for First Nations education. 

 

Meaningful Dialogue

  • Ensures a meaningful support process to address these conditions through a commitment to working together through co-development, fully reflective of First Nations rights and jurisdiction.  Canada must commit to direct dialogue and discussion throughout development including regulation and establishing agreements with First Nations communities specific to their approach to advancing education, including Treaty implementation or other agreement. 

 

The work leading to this framework started months ago with regional dialogue and discussion that saw First Nations articulating their visions of First Nations control of First Nations education.  The AFN will continue to support and help facilitate this work and will prepare a final overview paper in early April. 

It is up to each First Nation and region to determine how they see these five conditions being achieved in a manner that respects their rights and interests.  The AFN is not a rights holder – First Nations themselves must drive the next steps as only First Nations can articulate, design and build their own education systems. 

Despite our inherent diversity across the country, there has been absolute agreement that the status quo in education is unacceptable and must end.  We must not only oppose the status quo and a failing system, we must articulate what is required to achieve success and drive our own approaches based on our requirements.  But we can work together, support and respecting one another as we pursue our own paths to a shared goal of success for our children. 

I have full faith and confidence in our people – our Elders, our experts, our leaders, our youth – that we have the answers, the commitment and the solutions to realize our vision of First Nations control of First Nations education. 

We will continue to engage widely with First Nations in the coming weeks and we will support First Nations in setting their strategies and their approach to First Nations control of First Nations education.  

Update: Action on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Woman and Girls 

On Monday March 10, 2014, I met with leaders of national Indigenous organizations, specifically the Native Women’s Association of Canada, the Métis National Council, the National Association of Friendship Centres and the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples.  Our purpose was to discuss immediate action on the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.  This meeting came in the wake of a tremendously disappointing report released on March 7 by Parliament’s Special Committee on Violence Against Indigenous Women. 

We met to discuss our strategies moving forward as we cannot accept the status quo or the limited approach taken by this government.  We all agreed that urgent action is required.  At the meeting, all those present reaffirmed our call for a national public commission of inquiry on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.  We came to a common position that all our efforts need to be coordinated, including awareness and ongoing advocacy that advances considerations for a national inquiry as well as immediate actions to ensure safety and security for Indigenous women and girls. 

There was an agreement among the organizations to take matters into our own hands and begin drafting our own terms of reference for a national inquiry so that it is inclusive, focused and constructive.  We will seek options to move this forward with partners with or without support from the government. 

Another idea brought forward was the possibility of establishing a national research centre dedicated to the safety of Indigenous women.  We will continue working on this and other ideas in advance of many upcoming opportunities to raise the profile of this important issue and to continue mobilizing support among Parliamentarians, provinces and territories and international partners. 

All Indigenous organizations are committed to advancing their own action plans and sharing these efforts as a way to affirm solidarity, coordinate our work and strengthen our individual actions.  We are looking as well to important upcoming international reports from organizations such as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the United Nations Committee to End Discrimination against Women, and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to further advance the discussion and pressure Canada to act. 

We are all in agreement that we will continue to push for action on this critical issue and work to ensure the safety and security of Indigenous women and girls. 

Kleco, kleco!

read more
rdbrinkhurstCommuniqué from National Chief Shawn Atleo – April 2014

National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo – Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada

on April 2, 2014

March 27, 2014

[Traditional greetings] 

Today I am reminded of the day almost six years ago now when I was sitting in the House of Commons hearing the words of the Prime minister apologize on behalf of Canada. 

But it is more than the words of the Prime Minister that I remember. 

What I remember most were the flood of words and emotions flowing from our people that day, words of our former National Chief and my late Grandmother that resonate still in crystal clear tones for me today.

As we gather for the final national gathering of this incredible journey and undertaking, this quest for truth telling, of giving expression to our hurt and our healing, I am compelled to share these reflections from that day and from today. 

National Chief Phil Fontaine, in his response to the apology, spoke of the dreadful chapter of shared history that was the residential schools and implored us all to have the courage to face the darkest moments.  He spoke of survival and affirmation of our place as Indigenous peoples.  And he reached out to all of Canada to join this work of reconciliation. 

My grandmother in her own way responded that day as well.  Holding my hand she leaned to me and said, “Grandson – they are just beginning to see us.”  She also shared a dream that I have since shared many times.  She shared a dream of trying to turn a page, a dark page, by herself but it was a heavy page, too heavy.  She knew it would take many people to turn this very heavy page – a page in the same dark chapter that National Chief Fontaine referred to. 

Today, I have the tremendous honour to reflect on this work of truth and reconciliation both personally as an individual who knows many – including members of my own family – that were sent to the schools, and in my role as National Chief.  I have witnessed the deep pain and anguish of those speaking truth, and the results of shining light into the darkest corners. 

My own family and my own history is deeply marked by what that light exposes – stories of experiments carried out on innocent children and of the deep intergenerational trauma that results. I personally experienced violence as a child.  This real hurt made me too a victim.  I believe we can and must support each other to no longer be confined or defined as victims who continue to hurt ourselves and those that we love, but rather as strong survivors having done the hard work.  We can, we must and we will choose to end this cycle. 

Today, I have the privilege to now reflect back both personally and as National Chief what I witness in our communities, in our homes across this nation.  Struggle is not difficult to find.  It is all around us.  We are a people constantly responding, reacting to and learning from trauma.  We experience, and we endure.  This makes sense because of our past and it is our reality. 

Through the beauty and pride of our culture, the strength of our ancestors, we can move out from that deeply embedded sense of trauma, we can move out of the darkness into the light and energy of our hope and confidence in our future. 

Through the truth we can free ourselves from the bonds of anger and hate.  We can unburden the next generations of the anger and pain.  We can convey to them the gifts of our spirit, our songs, our languages and cultures.  We will never forget.  We will remember those things they tried to take from us – we will gift them to the next generation. 

Let me share with you the constant motivation I have for this effort.  Quite simply, it is our children – all of our children – wherever they may live.  Our cultures have always been child-centred.  The nurturing and caring of children has always been the highest value of our Nations.  

As National Chief, I have travelled to over a hundred schools and I have had the chance to listen to our children, to listen intently to their wisdom, a wisdom I see sometimes without words.  Sometimes it’s the flicker of intensity, the light in the eyes, the thirst to learn and live their language and culture.   

Today we can again capture that deep care and concern for children at the very centre of our identity.  We can and must begin to prepare the way to bring back this light and energy into every one of our homes and families. 

It starts with forgiveness within our own families – forgiveness to not hold onto the pain and the suffering and most importantly to not pass this on any longer.  

Forgiveness is not forgetting.  Those experiences, and even the pain they caused, have a great deal to teach us, both about not being victimized again and about not victimizing others.  This is not about absolving responsibility.  It is rather something internal, and it is a sign of strength.  It can free us and empower us to move forward.  It starts with our commitment to not place this burden on the shoulders of the next generation.   

We now enter the opportunity to end the dark night for our people.  It requires the very best of us.  It requires us to honour our peoples and to honour our memories, not by holding onto the pain but to learn from it, to say “never again”, to rebuild our communities and nations knowing we have prevailed. 

Our legacy is not of anger and pain.  Our legacy is courage, resilience and strength.  Our future is to walk forward into the new day.  Harkening back and reclaiming the essence of our strength, a strength founded in love not hate; in compassion, not anger. 

This is our future now and we will write this new chapter grounded in our constant care and devotion to our children.  We are and will bring back our teachings and the deep meanings as more than symbolism.  We will conduct ourselves in accordance with our teachings, living our cultures through expression and interaction within our nations and with our neighbours. 

I do not suggest that the hard work is over – no, far from it.  We now prepare for the harder work of summoning our strength and acting on it.  Acting now to break the shackles of shame and the cycle of pain and determine our own path forward through love, ceremony and respect. 

The new dawn is here.  It is in the eager eyes of young children who want to learn, who want to know who they are, who want to know their story, their songs, their spirituality. 

They have an inherent understanding of the beauty of their people.  We now have the chance to nurture this beauty and each and every one of us must be ready to see this beauty.  

Just as my Grandmother said, “they are just beginning to see us.”  I believe she was also hinting at the reality that we too as a people are just beginning to “see” again.  

Seeing and seizing our roles and our responsibilities first and foremost within our homes and families will unlock the tremendous potential of our Nations, grounded in who we are and who we will become. 

We will continue our march towards full recognition and justice.  The State must be encouraged to march with us.  We will be steadfast and strong. 

We are and will continue to strive for control of our education, a goal of our people ever since the first group of children were taken away to residential school – never again!  I encourage all of you survivors and supporters alike to continue to share and support the learning of our ways in our schools.  Through truth, there is healing and learning that gives us great strength.  

By reaching out to all Canadians and to the Canadian State we have generated new opportunities for healing and reigniting the fires of our Nations.  We have made stunning progress and are reclaiming the story of this country.  We have forever banished the notion that this was an empty land.  And we are reaching out to Canadians – too long denied the rich and vibrant history of our Nations, our cultures and art – to help them understand the true origins of our sovereignty, of partnership and of Treaty.  We will continue on this path, offering this knowledge, and inviting them to walk with us to a new future. 

This is an exciting and important time.  Through the eyes of the children, I am fully confident that we can and will end a cycle of being hurt and hurting.  

This has been the work of this incredible journey through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and now we look with confidence to a future – confidence that we will support ourselves and our children through education.  I see this success taking root all around us.  This is our moment not to feel trapped or held back, but to nurture this new way, to blossom with renewed strength. 

And we must all understand – everyone, First Nations and non-Indigenous, newcomers, people of all faiths and all walks of life – that this is our history, that we have told the story of our past and it is now time to create our future. 

Kleco, kleco

read more
rdbrinkhurstNational Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo – Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
Assembly of First Nations
    ×