News

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Joins First Nations Veterans to Mark Remembrance Day at National Ceremony in Ottawa on November 11

on November 10, 2017

November 10, 2017

(Ottawa, ON) – On Remembrance Day, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde will be joined by First Nations veterans for ceremonies in Ottawa to honour all, who have served their country with bravery and pride.  First Nations veterans fought for freedom in World Wars I and II, the Korean War and Vietnam War, and First Nations citizens continue to serve their country in military and peacekeeping missions around the world.

“On this day we remember those who served their people and their country, knowing that the quest for justice continues for First Nations veterans, their spouses and families. This is especially the case for those living in rural or remote communities trying to access services provided by Veteran Affairs Canada,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. “In April I was with First Nations veterans in France at the Battle of Vimy Ridge centennial to witness a powerful and moving ceremony for the thousands of fallen soldiers buried in foreign lands. Today, and every day we remember the incredible sacrifice and lasting contributions of our veterans and those who continue to serve.”

This Saturday on Remembrance Day, National Chief Bellegarde will be honoured to take part in the commemorative ceremony at the National War Memorial with 86 year old First Nation Veteran Doug Knockwood from Nova Scotia. The ceremony starts at 11 a.m. Eastern Time.

This year First Nations Veterans participated in the international commemoration ceremonies at Vimy Ridge, Dieppe and Passchendaele.

 

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

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For more information, please contact:

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

Alain Garon
Bilingual Communications Officer
613-292-0857 (cell)
agaron@afn.ca

Michael Hutchinson
Communications Officer
613-299-6330 (cell)
mhutchinson@afn.ca

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Roy WhiteduckAFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Joins First Nations Veterans to Mark Remembrance Day at National Ceremony in Ottawa on November 11

AFN BULLETIN – AFN to Initiate Working Group on Impacts of Proposed Cannabis legalization

on November 7, 2017

October, 2017

In July 2018, two bills dealing with the legalization of Cannabis (Acts C-45 & C-46) will become Canadian law, significantly changing the social and economic environment within the country. A report tabled in November 2016 described Canada’s priorities on cannabis to be: keeping cannabis out of the hands of children and youth, and preventing organized crime from profiting from cannabis sales, while also maintaining public health and safety, fairness, collaboration and a commitment to evidence-informed policy.

Between now and the July 2018 deadline, the only opportunity for the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) to obtain direction from Chiefs on how to define and launch our own cannabis-specific goals, policy and strategy is the December Special Chiefs Assembly.

In September 2017, the Executive Committee passed a motion that a National Working Group on Cannabis be created that would assist First Nations in all regions to be engagement-ready and in a better position to assert their rights, title and interests when the new cannabis legislation comes into effect. Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day and Quebec-Labrador Regional Chief Ghislain Picard will lead the file.

A Terms of Reference for the National Working Group on Cannabis has been developed and a proposal to fund the National Working Group is being drafted. The proposed approach is to:

  • Meet with various federal departments and agencies on the legislation, and
  • Hold bi-lateral discussions so that First Nation input is heard at all levels.

As with all other federal initiatives, it is important that First Nations have the relevant information to consider the impacts and how it relates to their level of readiness for change. At this point, there is not enough information distributed to First Nations to facilitate this readiness, including any positive and negative impacts. Output of information to First Nations regarding cannabis discussions and development is critical to ensure First Nations are prepared.

Issues that must be considered to prepare for the change include the following:

  • Public health – How will new health implications be addressed? Will solutions be designed and carried out in partnership with First Nations? What standards, mental health services and addictions care will be put in place to deal with cannabis on–reserve and off-reserve?
  • Justice – How will the changes impact criminal law, policing and those already in institutions?
  • Government system – How will licencing be determined? How will First Nation governments be included?
  • Education and public awareness – Will there be programs to speak to youth and adults about the impacts of cannabis use? Will there be properly-resourced programs to deal with the impacts?
  • Potential economic opportunities – Will First Nation business be granted licenses to manufacture and distribute cannabis products (consistent with AFN resolution 123/2016)?
  • Revenues – how will revenues from cannabis sales be directed? What portion of the funds will go back into public awareness and anti-addiction programs?
  • Impaired driving and workplace safety concerns – will there be supports in place to address these concerns over public safety on the roads and in our workplaces?
  • Jurisdictional – how will the changes impact Indigenous rights and lands? How will First Nations exert their rights and law in relation to these new changes?
  • Social – What are the impacts to First Nations social systems? How will community cultural perspectives and values be impacted by this legislation?
  • And other important factors for review, such as the application of medical cannabis in relieving disability related conditions.

The National Working Group on Cannabis will work to ensure that First Nations have the information they need to be prepared for this new legislation, as well as providing information that considers a broad set of matters that touch on everything from youth issues to transportation concerns to rights and title to economic development.

We will provide more information in the near future.

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Roy WhiteduckAFN BULLETIN – AFN to Initiate Working Group on Impacts of Proposed Cannabis legalization

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde says First Nations Must be Fully Involved in the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment

on November 6, 2017

(Vancouver, BC) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde, along with a delegation including Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin Hart and Grand Chief Edward John of First Nations Summit, told the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) at their meeting today that First Nations must play a crucial role in identifying and implementing solutions to the environmental and climate change challenges that all First Nations are impacted by.

“First Nations need to be full and effective members of the CCME and contribute to the development of strategies and plans that relate to the environment and climate change,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “Reconciliation has to include respect for our Elder’s traditional knowledge and our understanding of the lands and waters, the animals and plant life. We have a central role to play in lawmaking in this area, and we have responsibilities to safeguard our traditional territories and our people. We hold valuable knowledge that can help everyone in maintaining a healthy environment for all our children.”

The National Chief advocated for these positions today at the meeting of the CCME and called for inclusion of First Nations as General Members, which would mean full inclusion in the Council’s work. The National Chief encouraged inclusion of First Nations in the emerging economy for clean energy and adaptation. He also reiterated his call for federal legislation to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

In his presentation to the CCME, the National Chief advanced three points:

  • First Nations must be full participants in all meetings of CCME as a means of ensuring their voices are heard in environmental and climate change solutions. Furthermore, the National Chief encouraged “regional tables” between First Nations and provinces and territories to ensure First Nation participation in CCME discussions within the different regions;
  • First Nations’ law must also be accommodated and recognized, in addition to common law and civil law, when dealing with environment and climate change regulation and management as a way to express and share First Nations’ traditional knowledge and responsibilities to safe guard the lands, wildlife, waters, and resources;
  • First Nations must be involved as key players in the emerging economic industry for clean energy, adaptation, and mitigation.

The AFN has created the Advisory Committee on Climate Action and the Environment (ACCAE) and is currently establishing a network of climate coordinators across Canada. The Assembly is also working with First Nations Elders on the development of an Indigenous Knowledge policy that would support federal efforts to better respond to the impacts of climate change and other environment issues.

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

For more information, please contact:

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

Alain Garon Bilingual Communications Officer
613-241-6789 ext. 382
613-292-0857 (cell)
agaron@afn.ca 

Michael Hutchinson
Communications Officer
613-241-6789 ext. 254
613-299-6330 (cell)
mhutchinson@afn.ca

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Tash CoteAssembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde says First Nations Must be Fully Involved in the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment

National Day of Action on First Nations Child Welfare A Message to the Government of Canada: Comply with CHRT Ruling, Support First Nations Children Now

on November 2, 2017

November 2, 2017

(Ottawa, ON) Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde addressed supporters gathered today on Parliament Hill for the National Day of Action on First Nations Child Welfare, calling for immediate action to honour the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) ruling on First Nations child welfare and Jordan’s Principle.

“The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal’s rulings are simple and clear – First Nations children deserve to be treated fairly,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. “Our children deserve the same care and services that are available to other children in this country. Last November, Parliament voted unanimously to provide an immediate injection of $155 million for First Nations child and family services and to immediately implement Jordan’s Principle. Those resources represent a down payment on fairness, justice and an opportunity for a brighter future for our children. They should not have to wait any longer.”

In February 2007, the AFN and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society jointly filed a complaint to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal stating the provision of First Nations child and family services by the Government of Canada was flawed, inequitable and discriminatory under the Canadian Human Rights Act.

AFN Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin Hart said: “Canada’s own Human Rights Tribunal found our children are treated unfairly. Knowing that, how can any of us in good conscience allow this to continue? For First Nations, this is part of a long and sad story that goes from the Indian residential schools system to the 60s scoop to today’s child welfare system. Our message today is simple: stop taking our children from us, honour the Tribunal ruling, and work with us to give our children hope and opportunity.”

In January 2016, the CHRT ruled the federal government had been discriminating against First Nations children and families on reserve by providing flawed and inequitable child welfare services for decades. The decision also stated that Canada failed to fully implement Jordan’s Principle, which ensures equitable access to government services for all children in Canada. Since then, the CHRT has issued three compliance orders against the federal government.

The impacts of under-funding on children and families are many, including the staggering statistics that there are more First Nations children in care today than at the height of the residential schools system. Recent census figures show that the First Nations population increased by almost 40 per cent in the last ten years, while more than half the children in foster care (52.2 per cent) 14 years and younger are Indigenous.

The AFN Chiefs-in-Assembly called for the National Day of Action at the AFN 2017 Annual General Assembly held during July 2017 in Regina, SK.

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

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For more information, please contact:

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

Alain Garon
Bilingual Communications Officer
613-241-6789 ext. 382
613-292-0857 (cell)
agaron@afn.ca

read more
Roy WhiteduckNational Day of Action on First Nations Child Welfare A Message to the Government of Canada: Comply with CHRT Ruling, Support First Nations Children Now

First Nations Forum to Address Housing & Infrastructure Crisis

on October 31, 2017

October 30, 2017

(Montreal, QC) – Experts in housing and infrastructure will gather in Montreal, QC today through Wednesday to collaborate on First Nations-led solutions to the housing and infrastructure crisis facing many First Nations. The Forum provides an opportunity for First Nations leaders and experts to collaborate and discuss ways to tackle this critical area of immediate need and to showcase innovative models and new approaches in housing and infrastructure.

“All children deserve to live in healthy homes and healthy communities,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “The goal of this Forum is to bring First Nations together to determine how to realize First Nations care and control of quality housing and infrastructure, and look at solutions to housing and infrastructure deficits from a First Nations perspective. Safe and reliable housing and infrastructure contributes to the personal, social, cultural and economic well-being of First Nations families and builds stronger communities and a stronger country for all of us.”

Census data released by Statistics Canada last week reinforces what First Nations leaders have been saying for many years about the need for investments in housing and infrastructure. One quarter of the First Nations population lives in a home that is in need of major repairs, with 44.2 per cent of them on-reserve. Over-crowding was identified as a major problem with one quarter of First Nations people living in crowded housing, with the on-reserve rate at 36.8 per cent.

“There is a need for a substantial investment in housing and infrastructure to end the crisis and support First Nations goals for care and control over First Nations housing and infrastructure, which is essential for a better future,” said National Chief Bellegarde.

AFN Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin Hart, who holds the Water, Housing and Infrastructure portfolio for AFN, stated: “The status quo for First Nations is not acceptable. We cannot continue to live in third world conditions with communities that do not have proper infrastructure and safe drinking water. Housing needs in First Nations continues to be at crisis levels with the prevalence of mold, lack of housing and overcrowding being a daily challenge. Canada must make the required investments now. These investments will directly benefit First Nations who face significant housing and infrastructure gaps. This is our opportunity to lead this transformative change.”

The full Forum agenda is available online: http://www.afn.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Housing-Forum-Provisional-Agenda_EN.pdf

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

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For more information, please contact:

Alain Garon
Bilingual Communications Officer
613-292-0857 (cell)
agaron@afn.ca

Michael Hutchinson
Communications Officer
613-299-6330 (cell)
mhutchinson@afn.ca

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Roy WhiteduckFirst Nations Forum to Address Housing & Infrastructure Crisis

Assembly of First Nations 2017 National Housing & Infrastructure Forum ‘Moving Towards First Nations Care and Control of Housing and Infrastructure’

on October 27, 2017

October 27, 2017

MEDIA ADVISORY

(Montreal, QC): The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) will convene a national Housing and Infrastructure Forum to be held October 30 – November 1 in Montreal, Quebec. The Forum provides an opportunity for First Nations leaders and experts to dialogue ways to tackle this area of critical need and showcase innovative models and new approaches in housing, infrastructure and drinking water.

Delegates will discuss the concept of a First Nations National Housing and Infrastructure Strategy, and options for First Nations care and control of housing and infrastructure. This is a long-standing and urgent priority. Census data released by Statistics Canada this week indicates that one quarter of the First Nations population lives in a house that is in need of major repairs, with 44.2 per cent of them on-reserve. Over-crowding was identified as another major problem with one quarter of First Nations people living in crowded housing, with those on-reserves at a rate of 36.8 per cent.

DATE: Monday, October 30 to Wednesday, November 1, 2017

LOCATION: Fairmont Queen Elizabeth 900 René-Lévesque Blvd W, Montreal, QC

The 2017 National Housing & Infrastructure Forum is open to media and to the public.

The full Forum agenda is available online: http://www.afn.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Housing-Forum-Provisional-Agenda_EN.pdf

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

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For more information, please contact:

Alain Garon
Bilingual Communications Officer
613-292-0857 (cell)
agaron@afn.ca

Michael Hutchinson
Communications Officer
613-299-6330 (cell)
mhutchinson@afn.ca

read more
Roy WhiteduckAssembly of First Nations 2017 National Housing & Infrastructure Forum ‘Moving Towards First Nations Care and Control of Housing and Infrastructure’

2016 Census Demonstrates Urgency of First Nations Priorities, says AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde

on October 26, 2017

October 25, 2017

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde says today’s release of census information by Statistics Canada demonstrates the urgent need to invest in a young and rapidly growing First Nations population, which increased by 39.3 per cent in the last ten years.

“These statistics are a compelling reminder that our young and booming population must be given hope and opportunity and supported through significant, sustained investments in their future,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “It is clear once again that our future is Canada’s future, and healthy, strong First Nations people are essential to a healthy, strong Canada. The average age of our people is 30 years old and these results show the urgent need for continued investments in education and training. It also shows the need to address the stark social-economic conditions facing our people. That is the way to unlock the untapped potential for the benefit of First Nations and all Canadians.”

The report shows that one quarter of First Nations people live in a house that is in need of major repairs, including 44.2 per cent of them on-reserve. Over-crowding was identified as another major problem with one quarter of First Nations people living in crowded housing with those on-reserves at a rate of 36.8 per cent.

The report also reveals that more than 70 Aboriginal languages are spoken across Canada with a total of 260,550 Aboriginal language speakers, an increase of 3.1 per cent since 2006. 

AFN National Chief Bellegarde said, “Several of the 70 languages still spoken can survive but none are safe and interventions and supports for all languages and all ages are necessary. Now is the time for the Indigenous Languages Act to ensure the ‘preservation, protection, and revitalization’ of First Nations languages.”

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

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For more information, please contact:

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

Alain Garon
Bilingual Communications Officer
613-241-6789 ext. 382
613-292-0857
agaron@afn.ca

Michael Hutchinson
Communications Officer
613-241-6789 ext. 254
613-299-6330 (cell)
mhutchinson@afn.ca

read more
Roy Whiteduck2016 Census Demonstrates Urgency of First Nations Priorities, says AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde

REQUEST FOR PROPOSAL (RFP) CHIEF ELECTORAL OFFICER FOR ELECTION OF NATIONAL CHIEF – JULY 2018

on October 20, 2017

The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is the national representative organization of First Nations people in Canada. The AFN represents and advocates First Nations interests for more than 600 First Nations from across the country.

The AFN invites qualified individuals to submit proposals to provide Chief Electoral Officer services for the upcoming 2018 election for the Office of National Chief.

In accordance with the AFN Charter, Article 22 Section 1:

The National Chief shall be elected by First Nations-in-Assembly by a majority of 60% of the registered representatives of First Nations at an Assembly convened for the purpose of electing a National Chief.

The National Chief shall be elected for a three-year term.

Click here for the full RFP

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Roy WhiteduckREQUEST FOR PROPOSAL (RFP) CHIEF ELECTORAL OFFICER FOR ELECTION OF NATIONAL CHIEF – JULY 2018

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde Offers Condolences on the Passing of Yukon Regional Chief Mike Smith

on October 20, 2017

October 19, 2017

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today offered his condolences to the family, community and Yukon First Nations on the passing of AFN Yukon Regional Chief Mike Smith, Shakuni, who served as AFN representative for the Yukon region since 2012.

“It is with a heavy heart that we learn of the loss of Shakuni – AFN Yukon Regional Chief Mike Smith,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. “This is a loss to the AFN, the Yukon territory and First Nations across the country. Regional Chief Smith was a dedicated and diligent member of the AFN Executive Committee who ensured the priorities of Yukon First Nations were represented at the national level. Regional Chief Smith was a sharp legal mind and a strong advocate for First Nations rights and First Nations jurisdiction. I will miss his contributions, insight and leadership. My heart goes out to his family and community. We have lost a man who always fought for the goals and interests of his people.”

Shakuni, Mike Smith, was instrumental in spearheading the land claim of Yukon First Nations people and was a signatory as Chief of the Kwanlin Dun First Nation Land Claim and Self-Government Agreement. He was a Chair of the Council of Yukon Indians, now the Council of Yukon First Nations. He served two terms as AFN Yukon Regional Chief, where he was a strong advocate for modern Treaties and self-determination, northern strategies and issues, and First Nations citizenship.

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

 

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For more information, please contact:

Jamie Monastyrski
Press Secretary – National Chief’s Office
613-241-6789 ext. 222
343-540-6179 (cell)
jamiem@afn.ca

Michael Hutchinson
Communications Officer
613-241-6789 ext. 254
613-299-6330 (cell)
mhutchinson@afn.ca

Alain Garon
Bilingual Communications Officer
613-292-0857
agaron@afn.ca

read more
Roy WhiteduckAssembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde Offers Condolences on the Passing of Yukon Regional Chief Mike Smith

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Honours Memory of Gord Downie – Wicapi Omani, “Walks Among the Stars”, Offers Condolences to Family

on October 18, 2017

October 18, 2017

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde today honoured the memory of Gord Downie as an artist and advocate who made a great personal effort to advance reconciliation and raise awareness of First Nations issues in Canada.

“I honour the life and work of Gord Downie, a dedicated and accomplished artist who used his profile to advance reconciliation and build support for First Nations peoples,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “Gord had the ability to reach people who might not be otherwise engaged in our issues. This was a tremendous personal effort on his part, one that illustrates his commitment to justice and his belief that every Canadian has a role to play in reconciliation.”

“I will always be moved by the powerful moment last December at our Assembly when we honoured Gord for his work, and gave him the Lakota name Wicapi Omani – Walks Among the Stars. Today, he begins a new journey among the stars, but his music, his art, his work and his memory will always be with us. I convey my deepest respect and send sincere condolences to his family and his partners in music and in life,” National Chief Bellegarde added.

In December 2016 at the AFN’s Special Chiefs Assembly, AFN National Chief Bellegarde and his wife Valerie wrapped Gord Downie in a starblanket in the presence of Elders and Chiefs, Grand Chiefs, First Nations youth and other delegates. The starblanket is bestowed to demonstrate respect and admiration for an individual. It is wrapped around someone to convey protection, warmth, love and family. The naming ceremony followed the bestowing of an eagle feather, a high honour given as Gord was named Wicapi Omani, Lakota for “Walks Among the Stars.”

AFN Nova Scotia-Newfoundland Regional Chief Morley Googoo said, “This is a very sad day. I want to extend my sincere condolences to Gord’s family. Canadians and Indigenous people have been so blessed that he gave us the last moments of his life. It is extraordinary that he shared his commitment to ‘do something’ and raise awareness for Indigenous inequalities. Most people, when faced with seeing their end, would not be so generous but it was clear to everyone Gord had an important legacy to fulfil. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and I hope that they are comforted with the knowledge that Creator and all Indigenous people will be sending their prayers to them. Wela’lin, Gord.”

Along with many initiatives, Gord Downie spearheaded his multi-media project The Secret Path, a book, album and animated film based on Gord’s poems and music about Chanie Wenjack, a 12-year old Anishinaabe (Ojibway) boy who died trying to make his way home after running away from a residential school in northern Ontario. The project helped advance the discussion of Canada’s history and the need for reconciliation. Proceeds from the Secret Path album and graphic novel are donated to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba. In June of this year, Gord was inducted as a member of the Order of Canada.

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

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For more information please contact:

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

Alain Garon
Bilingual Communications Officer
613-241-6789 ext. 382
613-292-0857 (cell)
agaron@afn.ca

read more
Roy WhiteduckAFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Honours Memory of Gord Downie – Wicapi Omani, “Walks Among the Stars”, Offers Condolences to Family
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