News

NATIONAL CHIEF BULLETIN January 2015

on January 30, 2015

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. 

If you require assistance please contact AFN or see resources, links and instructional videos available at www.afn.ca or directly at http://www.afn.ca/index.php/en/personal-credits

For direct information from the program administrator please contact Crawford Class Action Services at 1-866-343-1858 or www.residentialschoolsettlement.ca.

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rdbrinkhurstNATIONAL CHIEF BULLETIN January 2015

AFN BULLETIN December 2014

on December 19, 2014

AFN Special Chiefs Assembly and AFN National Chief Election 

First Nation leaders from across the country gathered for the AFN Special Chiefs Assembly (SCA) and National Chief Election in Winnipeg from December 9-11, 2014.  The Assembly drew almost 2,000 First Nation leaders, Elders, technicians, community members and observers for dialogue and strategy on key issues. 

On Wednesday, December 10, Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde was elected as National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations on the first ballot ‎with 63% of the vote. National Chief Bellegarde will serve a three-and-a-half year term as mandated by resolution 02-2014 from Chiefs-in-Assembly at the 2014 Annual General Assembly. 

National Chief Bellegarde announced his top priority as given to him by First Nations across the country, that Canada must respect our rights as peoples and our Inherent Right to self-determination.  It will require new approaches and dialogue truly founded in a commitment to recognize and respect our inherent jurisdiction, Aboriginal rights and title, and the sacred Treaty relationships between First Nations and the Crown. 

Together, Chiefs-in-Assembly passed a total of 17 resolutions on a number of priority areas for action, including, but not limited to, funding for First Nations education, support for families of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, a Non-Insured Health Benefits Action Plan, Indian Residential Schools Personal Education Credit Program, prescription drug abuse crisis, Specific Claims Tribunal Act, Treaty Right to housing, natural resources, support for the Tsilhqot’in Nation Judgment.  All resolutions are available at www.afn.ca.  The purpose of this Bulletin is to provide an update on the discussion and direction on the main SCA agenda items. 

Task Group on Nation-Building & AFN Restructuring 

Chiefs-in-Assembly received an update from the Task Group on Nation-Building and AFN Restructuring, which launched in 2013 to examine AFN, processes and structure to ensure it supports Nation building efforts and can evolve according to the direction of First Nations.  The Task Group identified short, medium and long-term areas of focus and key questions relating to the role of the AFN, National Chief, Executive and Secretariat; how voting is conducting and mandates expressed by Chiefs; how First Nation citizens are involved and participation in decision-making as Nations.   The Task Group also recommended that a Chiefs Committee on Nation Building and AFN Restructuring be formed to conduct a review of AFN Charter, drawing on previous experience of leaders and the AFN Renewal Commission, and engage directly with First Nations, regional and Treaty organizations and with citizens to develop recommendations for change. 

More information and short dialogue and discussion papers on this work can be found at www.afn.ca

First Nations Control of First Nations Education 

AFN Resolution 35/2014 “Federal Act for Funding First Nations Education” was passed by Chiefs-in-Assembly.  This resolution supports the joint creation of a federal bill that outlines the federal government’s responsibilities to fund First Nations Education.  The resolution speaks only to funding and is not in any way related to Bill C-33 and is clear that work under the resolution is contingent on the federal government withdrawing Bill C-33.  The resolution speaks to an inclusive and transparent process to develop the legislation and accompanying regulations such that First Nation regions are involved throughout the process.  Under the resolution, any draft legislation resulting from this work must first be reviewed and ratified by Chiefs-in-Assembly before it proceeds.  The resolution also demands that Canada honour its constitutional obligation to the Treaty right to education. 

The establishment of a legislative framework for funding First Nation Education is the only way to systematically ensure all First Nation communities benefit from access to quality, culturally appropriate education, not just those with the capacity to negotiate with the federal government. 

Planning for a National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and the Call for a National Inquiry 

One month after a brutal assault along the Assiniboine River in Winnipeg, 16-year-old Rinelle Harper was honoured by Chiefs and delegates on Tuesday December 9.  Red Bear drum group sang an honour song and Rinelle Harper received an eagle feather by Manitoba Regional Chief Bill Traverse on behalf of AFN.  Ms. Harper stood with her parents and sister to address the Chiefs and delegates and pleaded for love, kindness, respect and forgiveness.  She added her soft but strong voice to the call for a National Public Commission of Inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women.  It was a touching and powerful moment followed by a standing ovation from the Assembly. 

Chiefs and delegates participated in a strategy and planning session Wednesday December 10 on the upcoming National Roundtable on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls currently expected to take place in February 2015.  Discussions built on the decisions and work to date to end violence against Indigenous women and girls, including three prior resolutions calling for a National Public Commission of Inquiry and the development of a national framework to end violence.  Two resolutions were passed at the SCA in this area: 35/2014 “Support for Families First” and 36/2014 “Engagement and Representation on National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls” that reinforce AFN’s mandate to engage in an inclusive fashion and ensure community-based efforts and voices are heard in all work going forward. 

Working Group on Natural Resource Development

The Working Group on Natural Resources Development (Working Group) was launched in December 2013 to start a national conversation to examine ways to ensure that First Nations have the opportunity to participate and share, where interested, in the full range of benefits resulting from natural resource development.  The Working Group update focused on two sessions held in November 2014 and work towards a first summary report. The Working Group identified four emerging themes in discussions to date: governance, environment, prosperity and finance. 

Chiefs-in-Assembly passed resolution 38-2014 calling on the National Chief to support and assist in communicating the urgency of First Nations full involvement in the economy and resource sector. The resolution also supports continued efforts by the Working Group to report on natural resources development, coordinate a meeting with other levels of government and jurisdictions, and to establish a communications plan to ensure First Nations, the Government of Canada, industry, and international communities of interest are aware of the Working Group’s findings.  Chiefs-in-Assembly also underscored the need for recognition of jurisdiction, Treaties, the need for market involvement, a focus on strategic topics, involvement of trade matters in this discussion, and to move on this as a priority area.  The Working Group has reported to Chiefs in Assembly in July 2014, December 2014, and will continue to report to First Nations on its work. 

Non-Insured Health Benefits 

The Chiefs-in-Assembly approved the AFN Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) Action Plan as a living document and directed the AFN Chiefs Committee on Health (CCOH), the AFN National First Nations Health Technicians Network (NFNHTN) and AFN Staff to work on actions identified in the Action Plan.  The CCOH and NFNHTN are meeting next in January 2015. 

As part of the NIHB Action Plan, the AFN has been working diligently on the Joint NIHB Review which is a collaboration between the AFN and the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB) at Health Canada.  The first meeting of the Joint NIHB Review Committee took place in October 2014.  The next meeting is scheduled for January 2015. 

The NIHB Action Plan as well as updates on all health policy areas are posted on the AFN website at:  http://health.afn.ca/en 

Specific Claims Review

The Chiefs-in-Assembly passed resolution 40-2014 affirming the significance of the 5-year review of the Specific Claims Tribunal Act and related processes. First Nations are critically concerned about the current specific claims process, including the state of funding for claimants, as well as threats to the independence and viability of the Tribunal.  The Chiefs Committee on Claims (CCoC) has been tasked to engage in the review, and to ensure that any First Nations that wish to do so, have the opportunity to contribute their views on the current state of federal claims processing.  The CCoC is working to finalize an engagement process and is expected to convene a meeting of leaders and experts to contribute to the review.  More information will be provided to First Nations as this work proceeds. 

The Assembly of First Nations thanks all those who took time away from their families and communities to participate in the Special Chiefs Assembly and make it such a success.  We wish everyone all the best over the holiday season.  Please enjoy your time with family, friends and community.

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rdbrinkhurstAFN BULLETIN December 2014

AFNQL Chiefs congratulate National Chief Perry Bellegarde for his election

on December 17, 2014

WENDAKE, QC, Dec. 11, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ – The Chiefs of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) would like to extend their congratulations and express their support to newly elected National Chief Perry Bellegarde, a man of experience who will know how to face the numerous challenges impacting our Peoples and the national organization.

The First Nations Chiefs of Canada, gathered this week in Winnipeg for their Special Chiefs Assembly, demonstrated a clear willingness to move forward, to rebuild their national organization and to count on their own strengths, and that of their elders, women and youth to do so. The AFNQL will work hand in hand with all First Nations across the country in a spirit of unity and respect for diversity.

As of today, Ghislain Picard resumes his functions as AFNQL Regional Chief. The Innu Nation Chiefs have expressed, through Chief Jean-Charles Piétacho, their pride for supporting one of theirs as one of the National Chief Candidates and they also expressed their satisfaction to have a man of Ghislain Picard’s stature resuming his political mandate with the First Nations of Quebec-Labrador.

The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador is the political organization of 43 Chiefs of the First Nations in Quebec and Labrador. www.apnql-afnql.com

 

SOURCE Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador

For further information: Mélanie Vincent: vincentmelaniemv@gmail.com, Cell.: 418-580-4442 

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rdbrinkhurstAFNQL Chiefs congratulate National Chief Perry Bellegarde for his election

Dene National / Assembly of First Nations Office – PERRY BELLEGARDE WINS MAJORITY VOTE

on December 17, 2014

December 15, 2014

Elected as new national chief of Assembly of First Nations December 10, 2014

YELLOWKNIFE – It took the first-ballot to name Saskatchewan’s Perry Bellegarde as the new National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN).

Dene National Chief and Regional Chief of the Assembly of First Nations for the Northwest Territories, Bill Erasmus said, “Firstly, the Dene Nation congratulates the new Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde on taking 63 per cent of the 464 votes. Erasmus said, “We know that the new National Chief will do well because of his experience and confidence that people have put in him. It’s not an easy job.” Erasmus commented on the many important tasks ahead and that the AFN National Chief will collaborate on the many different fronts as he oversees the restructuring of the organization during the next three-and-a-half years.”

At the election in Winnipeg, the former interim AFN leader Ghislain Picard finished second as Leon Jourdain from Ontario, finished third.

The Dene Nation is looking forward to working with the new AFN National Chief on the many issues concerning First Nations and the priorities for the north. In June 2013, Mr. Bellegarde attended the 44th Dene National Assembly in Fort Smith. As Chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations and AFN Regional Chief of AFN for Saskatchewan, he briefly addressed a crowd of 300 people attending the official commemoration ceremony of 115 years of Treaty No. 8. The ceremony and feast was hosted by Smith’s Landing First Nation in Fort Fitzgerald. “At the ceremony, Bellegarde spoke articulately about the need for more focus on restoration of pride among all First Nations in Canada and on self-determination. He also spoke about the meaning of real leadership,” said Erasmus.

Erasmus went on to say that Bellegarde will have an extra six months added to his three-year tenure because the former National Chief did not complete his term of office, this will give additional time to focus on nation building which will give relevance to its positions and directions and reflect the views and concerns as expressed in our communities. “We will encourage the new National Chief to work with us so our communities are able to enact and exercise their political rights which have been denied to them, even though we have treaties and agreements in place and are winning court cases,” said Erasmus.

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rdbrinkhurstDene National / Assembly of First Nations Office – PERRY BELLEGARDE WINS MAJORITY VOTE

The First Nations Leadership Council Congratulates the Newly Elected National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations

on December 17, 2014

December 11, 2014

(Treaty 1 Territory/Winnipeg, MB) – December 9-11, 2014, First Nations leadership from across Canada met in Winnipeg, MB, for the Assembly of First Nations (AFN)Special Chiefs’ Assembly. The election for National Chief was held on December 10, thesecond day of the Assembly. The political leadership of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs,First Nations Summit and the BC Assembly of First Nations, collectively the First NationsLeadership Council, wish to congratulate newly elected AFN National Chief, PerryBellegarde. National Chief Bellegarde, formerly Regional Chief with the Federation ofSaskatchewan Indian Nations, is from Little Black Bear First Nation. He received 63% ofthe vote and was declared AFN National Chief on the first ballot.

The First Nations Leadership Council expresses their appreciation to the othercandidates for National Chief, Ghislain Picard (Regional Chief, Quebec and Labrador)and Leon Jourdain (former Grand Chief, Treaty 3) for their courage and commitment torunning in the election for National Chief and for the contributions both leaders havealready made to improvements in the lives of First Nations peoples in their owncommunities and regions and indeed across Canada.

The First Nations Leadership Council has a history of working in partnership with theAFN National Chief and AFN National Executive and looks forward to futureopportunities to do so.

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rdbrinkhurstThe First Nations Leadership Council Congratulates the Newly Elected National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations

ASSEMBLY OF MANITOBA CHIEFS CONGRATULATES THE NEW NATIONAL CHIEF PERRY BELLEGARDE

on December 17, 2014

December 11, 2014. Treaty One Territory.

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs congratulates Perry Bellegarde for becoming the new National Chief for the Assembly of First Nations. National Chief Perry Bellagarde was elected for a 3 year term till 2017.

“With today’s uncertainty of unilateral legislation and policy aimed to keep our First Nations in poverty, we need a strong voice to support our people who face these devastating effects. Manitoba Chiefs put their support in the National Chief to effectively find concrete solutions that help eliminate violence against our women and girls, to keep the family tie together, and to improve the infrastructure for on-reserve residents to ensure their well-being,” stated Grand Chief Derek Nepinak.In

In the first ballot of voting the Chiefs across Turtle Island elected Perry Bellegarde to represent them at a national level to tackle the issues and concerns of First Nations. The Assembly of First Nations is a political organization that advocates for the rights of First Nations nationally.

“The role of the National Chief is going to be challenging as each First Nation community are unique and calls for a different process, instead of the one approach that fits all. Each First Nation region has their own governance structure that the federal government needs to respect to ensure their rights are being properly met” concluded Grand Chief Nepinak.

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs are optimistic on the direction National Chief Perry Bellegarde is going to be taking the Assembly of First Nations and are excited to see the outcomes in the near future.

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rdbrinkhurstASSEMBLY OF MANITOBA CHIEFS CONGRATULATES THE NEW NATIONAL CHIEF PERRY BELLEGARDE

NAN STATEMENT ON AFN ELECTION

on December 17, 2014

Wednesday December 10, 2014

WINNIPEG, MB: Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Harvey Yesno, on behalf of the Executive Council, congratulates Perry Bellegarde on his election as National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) by First Nation leaders during the AFN Special Chief Assembly in Winnipeg today:

“On behalf of NAN First Nations I congratulate Perry Bellegarde on his election as National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. As regional Chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, Perry Bellegarde has demonstrated his ability to build consensus among First Nation leadership and we look forward to working with him to strengthen the role of the AFN. I am confident that Perry Bellegarde will be a strong advocate for First Nations as our national representative and we look forward to working with him to establish a new and productive relationship with our federal Treaty partner.”
NAN also thanks Ghislain Picard, the assembly’s interim leader, and Leon Jourdain, former Chief of Lac La Croix First Nation in Ontario.
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rdbrinkhurstNAN STATEMENT ON AFN ELECTION

AFN BULLETIN Mid-November 2014

on November 14, 2014

AFN Meeting with Douglas Eyford, Ministerial Special Representative on Comprehensive Land Claims Policy Reform 

On July 28, 2014, Douglas Eyford was appointed by Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development of Canada (AANDC) Bernard Valcourt as his Special Representative to “lead engagement with Aboriginal groups and key stakeholders to renew and reform the Comprehensive Land Claims Policy.”  In late summer 2014, AANDC posted a document called “Renewing the Federal Comprehensive Land Claims Policy” on its website, which included a new “Interim Policy” on comprehensive claims that would provide the starting point for Douglas Eyford’s engagement, along with a web portal for making comments about the Interim Policy. 

On November 4, 2014, AFN interim National Chief Ghislain Picard and AFN Senior staff had the occasion to meet with Mr. Eyford to discuss his recent appointment, the process he is leading, and the Interim Policy that has been issued. An open and respectful discussion took place with Mr. Eyford who reiterated his role of Ministerial Special Representative as one for engagement and not consultation. He indicated that the Interim Policy was a starting point for his engagement with Aboriginal groups and key stakeholders, rather than a policy that he was tasked to promote. 

Highlights from the meeting with Mr. Eyford include: 

  • He is expecting to meet with about 200 different groups and individuals during his engagement in this capacity.
  • There was an interest on his part in learning more about the Senior Oversight Committee (SOC) process, which also focused on comprehensive claims policy reform, initiated by the Prime Minister in January 2013 but with no follow-up from Canada since late in 2013.
  • Eyford indicated that his report would include a history focused on the concept of Aboriginal title and its development through to the present day.
  • He has heard many complaints from groups about “extinguishment” as an implicit part of the federal comprehensive claims policy, as well as loan funding (among other issues).
  • Noting that the Interim Policy does not reflect the recent Supreme Court of Canada Tsilhqot’in decision, his mandate does not exclude a focus on it and it will be reflected as an aspect of his report.
  • His report will be tabled early 2015 rather than December 15, 2014, as originally announced. It will be made public.

 

First Nations and the AFN have received no funding to support their engagement in this process with Mr. Eyford. This in and of itself creates significant limitations for groups wishing to engage with him. The AFN secretariat is working to develop a written submission in partnership with an ad hoc coalition of social justice organizations.

You can download a copy of “Renewing the Federal Comprehensive Land Claims Policy” at: https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1408631807053/1408631881247

Written submissions can be made to Douglas Eyford until November 30, 2014 at: https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/eng/1405693409911/1405693617207

Working Group on Natural Resources Development

The Working Group on Natural Resources Development (Working Group) project has continued its work in line with the information reported to the leadership at the AFN Annual General Assembly and consistent with AFN resolution 80/2011. 

At the end of September 2014, the Working Group agreed to host two working sessions with up to 25 participants as a starting point.  The working sessions were held November 6-7 and November 13-14, 2014 and discussions focused around the topics of governance, prosperity, sustainable development, financial considerations, balancing approaches that are respectful to the environment, and more. 

AFN Regional Chief Cameron Alexis, in addition to being a member of the AFN Chiefs Committee on Economic Development (CCED), participates as a co-chair for the Working Group alongside CCED colleague Mr. Richard Nerysoo, and federally appointed members Mr. Douglas Turnbull, as co-chair,  and Mr. Patrick McGuinness. 

The Working Group on Natural Resources Development is an independent volunteer body. They will report on their work to date at the end of November 2014 and will issue a report during the upcoming 2014 Special Assembly this December in Winnipeg, MB.  Their findings are not considered a final word on these subjects but are intended to provide ideas that support the beginning of this national dialogue. 

You can get all the information at: www.naturalresourcedev.com

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rdbrinkhurstAFN BULLETIN Mid-November 2014

AFN Bulletin November 2014

on November 14, 2014

Update on the AFN Special Chiefs Assembly 

The Assembly of First Nations is holding its 2014 Special Chiefs Assembly (SCA) and election for AFN National Chief from December 9-11, 2014 at the RBC Convention Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba. This event is being hosted by Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) along with the locally established Host Committee.

The theme of this year’s SCA is “Our People, Our Land, Our Time”. This theme reaffirms our direction forward, harnessing the energy of the original peoples of this land, to seize this moment as the time for change and to act now for our peoples based on our rights and responsibilities. The Assembly will include discussion in a number of areas to make these objectives a reality and to support First Nations in advancing this work, including dialogue on Nation Building and AFN Restructuring, Land Rights and Claims, First Nations Control of First Nations Education and Ending Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls.  Information on logistics and the agenda will be posted on the AFN website as well as information on the many other events that will take place during the annual gathering. 

MKO will be hosting a number of cultural and social events throughout the SCA. Please visit the Host Committee website at www.ourlandourpeopleourtime.com for more information on these events and activities. 

Voting for the election for AFN National Chief will begin on Wednesday December 10, 2014. Nominations will be announced soon by the Chief Electoral Officer.

 

National Aboriginal Women’s Summit (NAWS) 

AFN Regional Chief for Nova Scotia and Newfoundland Morley Googoo, together with representatives from the AFN National Women’s Council, Youth and Elders councils, participated in the fourth National Aboriginal Women’s Summit (NAWS) in Membertou, Nova Scotia October 20-22, 2014.  AFN Women’s Council Co-Chair Lorraine Netro, AFN Elders Council Chair Phyllis Googoo and AFN Youth Council member Suzie Obamsawin attended the three-day Summit organized by the Native Women’s Association of Canada and the Province of Nova Scotia under the theme of “promoting equity, empowerment and leadership.” 

The AFN Women’s Council provided a paper in support of NAWS, putting forward practical recommendations in the areas of focus for the Summit.  The paper submitted by the AFN Women’s Council is available at: http://www.afn.ca/uploads/files/end_violence/afn_wc_nawsivsubmission.pdf

A report on NAWS is underway and the NAWS steering committee is working towards a draft socio-economic action plan for Aboriginal women as directed by National Aboriginal Leaders and Premiers at their meeting in August 2014. 

During the Summit, representatives from the National Aboriginal Organizations met with provincial and territorial leaders and achieved commitment for a National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women to take place in February 2015.  While details are still to be determined, the focus of the roundtable will be on coordinated and tangible action to prevent and end violence against Indigenous women and girls.

 

Transforming First Nations Education

The push continues for First Nations control of First Nations education consistent with inherent and Treaty rights, supported by fair, stable and predictable funding and systems that embrace and value First Nation languages and cultures.  It is clear that every First Nation, every Treaty and every region must set their own path forward and it is the role of AFN to support and advocate for these approaches.  The resolve to transform First Nations education and achieve positive change for our children is stronger than ever. 

First Nations have rejected federal legislation Bill C-33 but remain committed to transforming First Nations education for the success of our children. This remains our shared goal and shared commitment.  In recent weeks and months, First Nations leaders and education experts have gathered to discuss a new path forward to improve learner outcomes and establish real First Nations control of First Nations education. 

AFN hosted two days of meetings on October 20 – 21, 2014 with the National Indian Education Committee (NIEC) where a national education work plan was confirmed and advanced. Additional meetings are planned in early November with the NIEC and CCOE to continue to drive work forward. 

On November 5, 2014, AFN will be assembling a delegation of national, regional and local First Nation leaders in Ottawa for the purpose of briefing MPs, Senators and their staff on a new path forward for First Nations education.

 

Canadian Human Rights Tribunal on First Nations Child Welfare

The AFN and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society (Caring Society) jointly launched a Canadian Human Rights complaint against the Government of Canada on February 27, 2007 on the discriminatory provision of child and family services on-reserve. The joint complaint states that the Government of Canada has a longstanding pattern of providing unequal funding for child welfare services for First Nations children on reserves compared to non-Aboriginal children, resulting in inequitable services.  The real impacts are many and harmful to all of our communities. .  Many Canadians are shocked to learn that there are more First Nations children in care today than at the height of the residential schools system.

Final arguments in this case were heard from October 20-24, 2014.  During the closing arguments, the AFN re-emphasized the immediate, urgent need to address the under-funding of First Nations child and family services on-reserve as it places far too many children at risk and this is completely unacceptable.  It is time for the federal government to stop fighting against equity and justice for First Nations children and start fighting for it.  This is about fairness for the most vulnerable members of our society. 

The AFN wants to thank and acknowledge Dr. Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, for her tireless work for the last seven years on this issue. In spite of the many legal obstacles brought forward by the federal government to try and stop this complaint from proceeding, AFN and the Caring Society have stood together against the government in the name of all First Nations children. A final decision from the Tribunal is expected in the New Year, possibly February 2015.

 

AFN Donations

As part of our ongoing efforts to be more self-sufficient and independent financially, AFN launched on an online donation campaign on the AFN website.  This is part of a broader fundraising initiative.  We have heard the call from First Nations to take steps to ensure the AFN remains a strong organization and strong advocate for First Nations despite successive years of funding cuts by the federal government. 

You can get all the information at: http://www.afn.ca/index.php/en/donations to help support the Assembly of First Nations and increase our advocacy, policy, and research capacity to benefit First Nations and all of Canada.

The Assembly of First Nations issues regular updates on work underway at the national office. 

More information can be found at www.afn.ca.

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rdbrinkhurstAFN Bulletin November 2014
Assembly of First Nations
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