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ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS BULLETIN – Tabling of an Act respecting Indigenous languages in the House of Commons

on February 7, 2019

February 2019

Bill C-91: Act respecting Indigenous languages

On February 5, 2019, AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde welcomed the tabling of Bill C-91, an Act respecting Indigenous languages. The objective of the Bill, also known as the Indigenous Languages Act, is to reclaim, revitalize, strengthen and maintain Indigenous languages in Canada. Here is some key information about the Bill.

The preamble of the Bill:

  • reiterates that the Government of Canada is committed to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration), including the affirmation of Indigenous language rights
  • recognizes that Indigenous languages played a significant role in the establishment of Indigenous-European relations
  • acknowledges the contribution of discriminatory policies, such as residential schools, in eroding Indigenous languages
  • respects that Indigenous languages are fundamental to Indigenous identities, cultures, spirituality, relationships to the land, world views and self-determination
  • recognizes the Government of Canada’s role in supporting the work of entities with a mandate to promote the use of Indigenous languages and to support Indigenous peoples in reclaiming, maintaining and strengthening their languages
  • acknowledges that the control and initiative to lead Indigenous language reclamation, revitalization, maintenance, and strengthening is best placed in the hands of Indigenous peoples

The key purposes of the Act are:

  • the promotion of the use of Indigenous languages
  • the support of a multifaceted approach to Indigenous language revitalization including, but not limited to, language nests and immersion programs
  • the establishment of measures for adequate, sustainable and long-term funding
  • the establishment of mechanisms to work with provinces, territories, Indigenous representative organizations and Indigenous governments to create effective support for Indigenous languages in Canada
  • respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action 13 to 15,
  • advance the UN Declaration as it relates to Indigenous languages

The Act includes recognition and protection of language rights:

  • The Act states that: “The Government of Canada recognizes that the rights of Indigenous peoples recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 include rights related to Indigenous languages”.

The Act responds to First Nations’ calls for funding for Indigenous languages:

  • First Nations made funding a clear priority throughout the engagement process.
  • Bill C-91 addresses funding requirements in three places and obligates the Minister to consult with Indigenous peoples, governments and organizations to provide “adequate, sustainable, and long-term funding for the reclamation, revitalization, maintenance and strengthening of Indigenous languages.”

The Act establishes an Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages:

  • The Office would be an independent, arms-length entity working outside of the federal government.
  • The Commissioner must be appointed through an order in council and in consultation with Indigenous governments, governing bodies, and organizations.
  • It is mandated to support Indigenous communities, governments, and/or governing bodies in their efforts to reclaim, revitalize, maintain, and strengthen Indigenous languages.
  • The Commissioner must review complaints related to Indigenous language agreements, funding, obligations of the Government of Canada under the Act, and in the implementation of the Act. Following the review, the Commissioner must prepare a report with concrete recommendations.

The Act includes provisions for regulation and rule-making:

  • Legislation requires the Minister to conduct consultations to ensure that the unique circumstances and needs of Indigenous peoples, groups and communities are considered.

A Five-year Review:

  • An independent review of the Act is required five years after the entry into force of the proposed legislation and every five years thereafter.

Immediate next steps

The legislation received first reading. After it has gone to second reading in the House of Commons, the proposed Act is referred to a Standing Committee. While at Committee, interested parties can submit their views and suggestions to the Committee to consider as amendments to the Bill.

Towards implementation

Co-development will continue on an inclusive basis to address implementation requirements. In preparing for the implementation of the legislation, co-development efforts will prioritize funding measures, operationalizing the Office of the Commissioner, and supporting capacity building in relation to regional entities to assist local efforts in language assessments and language revitalization initiatives. The objective is for the proposed Indigenous Languages Act to become law by June, 2019, and before the upcoming general federal election.

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Roy WhiteduckASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS BULLETIN – Tabling of an Act respecting Indigenous languages in the House of Commons

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Welcomes Tabling of Federal Legislation to Revitalize Indigenous Languages, Says the Bill Deserves Support from All Canadians and Parliamentarians

on February 5, 2019

February 5, 2019

Statement from National Chief Perry Bellegarde

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today welcomed the tabling in Parliament of the federal Indigenous Languages Act, saying it deserves the support of all Parliamentarians and all Canadians.

“This is landmark legislation to protect and strengthen Indigenous languages, the original languages of these lands, that embrace our identity, our worldview and our nationhood,” said National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “No Indigenous language in Canada is safe. But now there is hope. This legislation will support First Nations efforts to keep their languages alive, vital and strong. Canadians and all parliamentarians must support this Bill because we all understand that language is identity, languages is culture, language is life. There is no better way to mark 2019 – the International Year of Indigenous Languages – than to see the country that once tried to eliminate our languages enact a law to protect, promote and revitalize our languages.”

The Indigenous Languages Act was tabled today in the House of Commons with the aim of it becoming law before the end of the current Parliamentary session. The initiative to co-develop legislation to “protect, promote and revitalize Indigenous languages” was first announced by Prime Minister Trudeau in December 2016 at an AFN Assembly. The announcement was a response to years of advocacy by the AFN, National Chief Bellegarde and First Nations. The AFN helped co-develop the legislation to ensure that First Nation perspectives, priorities and rights were included in the legislation.

Last week on February 1st, National Chief Bellegarde spoke about the legislation in his remarks to the United Nations General Assembly as the North American Indigenous Representative: “We need legislation to ensure sufficient, sustainable and long-term funding toward the revitalization of our languages. We need schools on-reserve as well as in urban and rural settings to create and implement effective bilingual and immersion education programs beginning with pre-school age children. And we need programs that inspire all of our people to speak our languages, regardless of age, to renew the vibrancy of our communities as our cultural places. We want our languages to be our living languages – sourced from our lands, expressing our creation stories, and alive in our ceremonies and daily lives.”

The text of the National Chief’s remarks at the UN are available on the AFN website at www.afn.ca. The United Nations declared 2019 the International Year of Indigenous Languages to encourage urgent action to preserve, revitalize and promote Indigenous languages.

 

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

 

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For more information, please contact:

Jenna Young Castro
Senior Communications Advisor
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext 201
613-314-8157 (cell)
[email protected]

Monica Poirier
Bilingual Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext. 382
613-292-0857
[email protected]

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Roy WhiteduckAFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Welcomes Tabling of Federal Legislation to Revitalize Indigenous Languages, Says the Bill Deserves Support from All Canadians and Parliamentarians

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Addresses UN General Assembly at Launch Event for the International Year of Indigenous Languages and Calls for Support for Upcoming Indigenous Languages Legislation in Canada

on February 1, 2019

(National Chief’s remarks)

(New York City, NY) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today addressed the United Nations (UN) General Assembly as the North American Indigenous Representative at the UN Launch Event for the 2019 International Year of the Indigenous Languages. National Chief Bellegarde marked the day by urging Canadians and all parliamentarians to support the work underway in Canada to revitalize, reclaim, and protect First Nations languages, including the Indigenous Languages Act that is expected to be tabled soon in Parliament.

“Indigenous languages are the founding languages of this land, embracing our identity, our worldview and our nationhood,” said National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “But in Canada, no Indigenous language is safe. Now there is hope. The Indigenous Languages Act that we co-developed will help ensure our languages survive and thrive. Canada will be a stronger, richer country when we hear First Nations children and families speaking their languages. It will be a historic way to mark the International Year of Indigenous Languages when this country – that once tried to eradicate our languages – passes a bill that was developed with us to protect, promote and revitalize our languages.”

In December 2016, the Prime Minister responded to years of advocacy by the AFN, First Nations and the National Chief to create an Indigenous Languages Act. The AFN helped co-develop the legislation to ensure that First Nation perspectives, priorities and rights were included in the legislation. The bill is expected to be introduced in Parliament in the near future with the aim of having it become law before the end of the current session.

In his remarks to the UN General Assembly as the North American Indigenous Representative, National Chief Bellegarde spoke of the upcoming Indigenous languages legislation: “We need legislation to ensure sufficient, sustainable and long-term funding toward the revitalization of our languages. We need schools on-reserve as well as in urban and rural settings to create and implement effective bilingual and immersion education programs beginning with pre-school age children. And we need programs that inspire all of our people to speak our languages, regardless of age, to renew the vibrancy of our communities as our cultural places. We want our languages to be our living languages – sourced from our lands, expressing our creation stories, and alive in our ceremonies and daily lives.”

The text of the National Chief’s remarks are available on the AFN website at www.afn.ca.

 

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

 

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For more information, please contact:

Jenna Young Castro
Senior Communications Advisor
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext 201
613-314-8157 (cell)
[email protected]

Monica Poirier
Bilingual Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext. 382
613-292-0857
[email protected]

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Roy WhiteduckAFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Addresses UN General Assembly at Launch Event for the International Year of Indigenous Languages and Calls for Support for Upcoming Indigenous Languages Legislation in Canada

AFN National Chief Attending United Nations General Assembly Launch Event of the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages

on January 31, 2019

January 31, 2019

(Ottawa, ON):  Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde will attend the United Nations (UN) General Assembly Launch Event of the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages at the UN New York Headquarters on February 1, 2019. National Chief Bellegarde will deliver a strong statement on the need for action to revitalize Indigenous languages in Canada and the work the AFN is doing to achieve this urgent goal.

DATE: February 1, 2019
TIME: Media availability 5 p.m. – 6 p.m. EST
LOCATION:  New York, United Nations Headquarters

The National Chief will participate in the ceremonies and general plenary, and will address a forum at the UN organized by Ecuador, Estonia and FILAC (Fondo para el desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas de América Latina y el Caribe). His remarks will be publicly available upon delivery.

The President of the UN General Assembly is convening this High-Level meeting of the General Assembly to launch the International Year of Indigenous Languages. UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), in its capacity as the leading UN agency for the International Year, organized the official Global Launch at its headquarters in Paris, France, on January 28. 

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

 

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For more information please contact:

Michael Hutchinson, Press Secretary, 613-859-6831, [email protected]
Jenna Young Castro, Sr Communications Advisor, 613-314-8157, [email protected]
Monica Poirier, Bilingual Communications Officer, 613-292-0857, [email protected]

 

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Roy WhiteduckAFN National Chief Attending United Nations General Assembly Launch Event of the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages

AFN National Chief Congratulates AFN Quebec-Labrador Regional Chief Ghislain Picard on Re-Election

on January 30, 2019

January 30, 2019

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde congratulates Regional Chief Ghislain Picard on being re-elected to represent the Quebec-Labrador region on the AFN National Executive.

“Regional Chief Picard is the longest serving member of the AFN National Executive,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “Through his leadership he has made significant contributions to the Assembly of First Nations and First Nations across the country.  I value his extensive experience and deep knowledge of our issues. This is his tenth term as a strong advocate for the rights of First Nations in the Quebec-Labrador region. I lift him up and congratulate him for earning the continued support of First Nations in his region.”

Regional Chief Picard was re-elected in Montreal, Quebec during the AFNQL Chiefs Assembly. He is a proud Innu from the community of Pessamit.

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

 

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For more information:

Michael Hutchinson
Press Secretary for National Chief
613-859-6831
[email protected]

Monica Poirier
Bilingual Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext. 382
613-292-0857
[email protected]

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Roy WhiteduckAFN National Chief Congratulates AFN Quebec-Labrador Regional Chief Ghislain Picard on Re-Election

AFN-Canada Memorandum of Understanding on Joint Priorities Meeting

on January 23, 2019

On January 14, 2019, the National Chief, members of the Executive Committee and other Chiefs met with Prime Minister Trudeau and members of his Cabinet as part of the AFN-Canada Memorandum of Understanding on Joint Priorities. The Prime Minister and the National Chief co-chaired this meeting, the first of three meetings that will take place under the MOU in 2019. The MOU, signed in 2017, calls for regular meetings to discuss key issues and assess progress on shared priorities. These meetings are an opportunity for open, constructive dialogue to advance First Nations priorities.

The National Chief opened by speaking about the RCMP action on Wet’suwet’en lands the previous week. He stated that reconciliation requires that First Nations laws must be recognized, respected and upheld, and there must be room in Canada for not only common law and civil law, but recognition of First Nation law and jurisdiction too. First Nations inherent rights, Treaty rights and title were themes that flowed throughout the meeting.

The MOU meeting took place shortly after the federal Cabinet shuffle, giving the National Chief and Regional Chiefs the opportunity to connect with the newly-appointed Minister of Indigenous Services Canada (ISC), Seamus O’Regan. Due to the importance of the meeting, the former Minister of ISC, Jane Philpott, also attended to provide final comments on her files. The Cabinet shuffle and the upcoming federal election in October were mentioned numerous times throughout the meeting. Minister Rodriguez (Heritage), Minister Bennett and Parliamentary Secretaries McCrimmon (Public Safety), Anandasangaree (Heritage) and Lightbound (Finance) also attended.

The National Chief and the Prime Minister agreed that progress is being made in many areas but there is still much work to do to close the gap.

The National Chief and Regional Chiefs put forward a number of opportunities to maintain progress and the Prime Minister responded with some key commitments.

One commitment is for the AFN and Canada to work toward a National Action Plan for the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration). Such an Action Plan would focus on implementation, which is crucial to fulfilling the principles of the UN Declaration.

Another significant commitment was for the AFN and Canada to initiate new processes to address the problems with Canada’s policies on the Inherent Right to Self- government and Comprehensive Claims, and to reinvigorate processes on Specific Claims and Additions to Reserve. It is important that Canada dismantle or change policies based on the termination of First Nations rights, title and jurisdiction so that they are based on recognition of rights, title and jurisdiction. This work must be done in partnership and cooperation with First Nations.

These assurances at the MOU meeting come after Canada’s commitment to support three pieces of legislation:

  • Bill C-262, An Act to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, currently at second reading in the Senate;
  • A new bill on First Nations jurisdiction over child welfare, co-developed with First Nations, to be tabled in parliament within a few weeks; and
  • A new bill on Indigenous languages, co-developed with First Nations and to be tabled in parliament within a few weeks.

Throughout the meeting, the National Chief and the Regional Chiefs emphasized the importance of these bills passing prior to parliament rising in June which then leads into a federal election. The Executive Committee did an excellent job of presenting on their files and the agenda allowed numerous topics to be discussed. Updates on the progress of work on the joint priorities identified in the MOU were also shared at the meeting.

Much work in other areas, including reconciliation, was already underway before the MOU Meeting. Prior to the Cabinet shuffle, Canada announced its Litigation Directive to Department of Justice counsels to give preference to negotiation over litigation, effective immediately. This government has also committed to covering the costs of intervention under the Default Prevention and Management Policy, removing a burden on First Nations governments’ Band Support Funding.

The meeting was an important opportunity to share information and perspectives on joint priorities with the Prime Minister and cabinet members, and advancing the shared commitment to moving those priorities forward.

The agenda for the meeting, the National Chief’s opening statement and the MOU itself are available on the AFN website at www.afn.ca.

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Roy WhiteduckAFN-Canada Memorandum of Understanding on Joint Priorities Meeting

Government of Canada and Assembly of First Nations announce new policy and funding approach for First Nations K-12 education on reserve

on January 21, 2019

News Release
For Immediate Release

January, 21, 2019 – Unceded Algonquin Territory, Ottawa, ON, Indigenous Services Canada

New approach takes effect April 1, 2019, supports First Nations control of First Nations education, and ensures more predictable and sufficient funding. 

First Nations students on-reserve deserve a high quality education with financial investments that meet their unique needs, including supports for language and culture to ensure they get the best start in life.

Today, the Honourable Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Indigenous Services, and National Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), announced a new co-developed policy and improved funding approach that will better support the needs of First Nations students on-reserve.

As of April 1, 2019, the new funding approach will:

  • replace outdated proposal-based programs with improved access to predictable core funding;
  • ensure base funding is comparable to provincial systems across the country while working towards additional funding agreements based on need to better account for factors such as remoteness, school size, language, and socio-economic conditions;
  • provide First Nations schools with $1,500 per student, per year, to support language and culture programming;
  • provide new resources which will support full-time kindergarten in every First Nations school for children aged four and five; and
  • ensure special education funding is more predictable, with fewer application-based requirements.

Following extensive engagements in 2016 and 2017, this new co-developed funding approach to K-12 education responds to First Nations advocacy to better meet the needs of students, improve education outcomes and strengthen First Nations control of First Nations education.

Indigenous Services Canada is currently working with First Nations across the country to implement the new formula-based regional funding models, and will be publishing more detailed information on the Government of Canada’s website in the coming months.

Ultimately, this new approach is an important step toward the creation of new Treaty-based, regional and/or local education agreements that put First Nations in control of First Nations education, and will better meet the needs of students.

Quotes 

“Every First Nations child deserves the best start in life with a high quality and culturally relevant education that meets their needs. Today’s announcement of a new, co-developed policy and funding approach for on-reserve education replaces an outdated system and ensures predictability. This new approach will allow First Nations to be in the driver’s seat – ensuring that they are in control of First Nations education.”

The Honourable Seamus O’Regan, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Indigenous Services


“Today we are another step closer to the long-standing goal of First Nations control of First Nations education. This new approach means First Nations have the ability to implement their own models of education. It means a shift from proposal-based funding toward predictable and sustained funding so First Nations can plan and build quality education systems that reflect their needs and their vision of holistic, lifelong learning.  This is a significant step toward closing the gap in education outcomes for First Nations children and students.” 

National Chief Perry Bellegarde
Assembly of First Nations


“Lifelong learning and a greater quality of life starts with quality education. This new approach is an important step toward First Nations taking greater control of planning and delivering education based on real need. Fair and sustained funding for First Nations children and students, including languages and cultures, will lead to better outcomes for everyone. This is a strong step, but there is a lot more to do to create equity in First Nations education and communities. As the largest growing demographic in the country, investing in First Nations students and young people is investing in Canada’s future.”

Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald
Assembly of First Nations, Portfolio Lead on Education


Quick Facts

  • Budget 2016 included an additional $2.6 billion over five years for elementary and secondary education. Since then, total funding for education on-reserve has increased by more than 30%, and will continue to increase through 2020-2021.
  • The new formula-based core funding model for elementary and secondary education will be data-driven and responsive to student population growth and education cost pressures.
  • The new formula-based funding methodology will be more understandable for recipients and informed by ongoing technical discussions.
  • With the new approach, two proposal-based funding streams, representing $360 million, will be rolled into core funding, reducing the administrative burden.

Related Products

Backgrounder – New Funding and Policy Approach for First Nations Kindergarten to Grade 12 Education

 

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For more information, media may contact:

Rachel Rappaport
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Seamus O’Regan
Minister of Indigenous Services
819-934-2796

Media Relations
Indigenous Services Canada
819-953-1160

Jenna Young Castro
Senior Communications Advisor
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext. 201
613-314-8157 mobile
[email protected]

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Roy WhiteduckGovernment of Canada and Assembly of First Nations announce new policy and funding approach for First Nations K-12 education on reserve

AFN Congratulates the Teslin Tlingit Council in Recent Yukon Supreme Court Ruling Confirming Canada’s Legal Obligations to Modern Treaties

on January 21, 2019

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde and AFN Yukon Regional Chief Kluane Adamek congratulate the Teslin Tlingit Council (TTC) on the recent Yukon Supreme Court decision that affirms Canada’s constitutional obligation to meaningfully and appropriately implement the terms of Modern Treaties, particularly the TTC Final and Self-Government Agreement.

“Self-government agreements have the potential to create a modern, effective relationship between First Nations and Canada, but Canada has to fulfill its promises once the agreements are made,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. “Otherwise, First Nations will not sign these documents. TTC signed their Final and Self-Government agreements on the understanding that their self-governing authority would be supported with fair funding from Canada. That isn’t happening and Canada is eroding its credibility. I lift up TTC for fighting for their people and their rights.”

Yukon Supreme Court Justice Ron Veale found that Canada has failed its obligations to the TTC Self-Government agreements by not providing funding for all its citizens. The court found that Canada has only been funding TTC and other Yukon First Nations on the number of “status” citizens. However, TTC’s self-government agreement does distinguish between citizens that hold Indian status and those that don’t.

For several years, TTC has noted the importance of properly funding all their citizens, according to the terms of their self-government agreements. Regional Chief Adamek says the court decision reaffirms TTC’s view and interpretation of their agreements.

“Justice Vaele’s decision sets a positive precedent and important recognition that Modern Treaties, particularly TTC’s self-government agreement, are paramount to federal policies. This ruling signals to Canada that meaningful realization of self-government requires the federal government to uphold its constitutional obligations to the terms of Final and Self-Government Agreements. Federal officials cannot continue to interpret our agreements through the lens of the Indian Act,” the Regional Chief said.

“Yukon First Nation children and families deserve proper programs and services supported by adequate funding based on the total population of citizens as determined by each respective First Nation. TTC, and other Yukon First Nations, entered into modern treaties, after decades of negotiation, to reach an agreement that would enable Canada and TTC to further their common priorities. At its core, the agreement is about ensuring Teslin Tlingit citizens, regardless of federally-imposed categories of status or non-status, can realize self-determinations in accordance with their principles and values.”

TTC signed their Final Land Claims and Self-Government Agreement in 1995, in good faith. Their preference, as has been their history, is to negotiate with governments to realize their interests. TTC is disappointed they had to turn to the courts to confirm what they’ve consistently stated since 2010. However, they see this decision as a turning point to get on with the work of finalizing a financial transfer agreement with Canada that will provide resources to meaningfully support the needs of their citizens.

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.

 

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For more information, please contact:

Michael Hutchinson
Press Secretary for the National Chief
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext. 244
613-859-6831 (cell)
[email protected]

Monica Poirier
Bilingual Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext. 382
613-292-0857 (mobile)
[email protected]

Arturo Calvo
A/Communications and Policy Analyst
Assembly of First Nations Yukon Region
867-393-920 ext. 9227
867-334-3314 (cell)
[email protected]

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Roy WhiteduckAFN Congratulates the Teslin Tlingit Council in Recent Yukon Supreme Court Ruling Confirming Canada’s Legal Obligations to Modern Treaties

First Nations Priorities Must Be Canada’s Priorities – AFN National Chief Responds to Federal Cabinet Shuffle

on January 14, 2019

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde responded to today’s federal cabinet shuffle stating continued commitment and progress on First Nations priorities is critical to moving forward and closing the gap between First Nations and the rest of Canada.

“Cabinet positions will change, but First Nations peoples and issues must remain a top priority,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “We will work to ensure the entire cabinet understands that the First Nations agenda is Canada’s agenda. Progress moves us all forward. We’ll be delivering this message to the Prime Minister and his cabinet at our meeting today on First Nations priorities.”

National Chief Bellegarde and AFN Regional Chiefs are meeting with the Prime Minister and senior cabinet ministers this afternoon consistent with commitments under the AFN-Canada Memorandum of Understanding on Joint Priorities. The meeting was scheduled prior to the announcement of today’s cabinet shuffle.

National Chief Bellegarde noted some changes to key portfolios dealing with the First Nations agenda.

“I look forward to meeting with the new Minister of Indigenous Services Seamus O’Regan and the new Attorney General David Lametti as soon as possible,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “We lift up the work of former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould as the first Indigenous Justice Minister and her efforts to bring a First Nations perspective to Canada’s legal system. I look forward to our continued work together in her new role as Minister of Veterans Affairs. Justice for First Nations veterans has been a long-standing priority for me and for the AFN. I’m honoured to have worked with the new Treasury Board President Jane Philpott and acknowledge all her efforts as Minister of Indigenous Services. Her openness and commitment to working together is a positive example for all governments.”

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.

For more information, please contact:

Jenna Young Castro
Senior Communications Advisor
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext 201
613-314-8157 (cell)
[email protected]

Monica Poirier
Bilingual Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext. 382
613-292-0857
[email protected]

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Sid LeeFirst Nations Priorities Must Be Canada’s Priorities – AFN National Chief Responds to Federal Cabinet Shuffle

Reconciliation Will Not Be Achieved Through Force

on January 8, 2019

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde issued the following statement today on the RCMP’s action against the Gidimt’en camp and checkpoint yesterday in northern B.C., set up in support of the Unist’ot’en, both of which are houses of the Wet’suwet’en Nation:

“This use of force against peaceful people is a violation of human rights and First Nations’ rights. Building consensus under duress will make the resolution of the situation in Northern British Columbia very difficult. Real consensus will be built when the parties, with very different views, come together in meaningful and productive dialogue. And I am confident that they can do this.

Canada and the B.C. government have both pledged to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, but are trying to impose their laws over Wet’suwet’en laws. If this was really about the ‘rule of law’ then governments would be honouring the rights and title of First Nations in their traditional territories, which are recognized by Canada’s own courts. The AFN supports the governance and decision-making process of the Wet’suwet’en leaders. Canada and B.C. should do the same. There is no reconciliation in the actions that unfolded yesterday.”

National Chief Bellegarde has been in contact with the BC AFN office and AFN BC Regional Chief Terry Teegee to stay fully informed of all developments. Reports indicate 14 people were arrested during the RCMP action

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.

For more information, please contact:
Michael Hutchinson
Press Secretary for the National Chief
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext. 244
613-859-6831 (cell)
[email protected]

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Sid LeeReconciliation Will Not Be Achieved Through Force
Assembly of First Nations
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