News

Ending Violence Against First Nations Women and Girls Can’t Wait: AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde

on December 14, 2018

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde commented today on the conclusion of the truth gathering process of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

“I lift up the family members, survivors and all those who shared their experiences and put forward recommendations to the Commissioners of the National Inquiry,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “Their bravery and the memory of their loved ones must be honoured by the National Inquiry through a final report that contains concrete recommendations aimed at addressing root causes and systemic problems. As I have said in the past, we cannot wait for the final report to take action to ensure First Nations women and girls are safe and secure in their homes and communities. We know there are things we can do right now to protect them and support them. This Inquiry has had its difficulties and it is important to always remember that the families come first. That principle must guide the writing of the final report. The AFN continues to stand with survivors and families in their journey to healing.”

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls concludes its truth gathering process with submissions by Parties with Standing in Ottawa this week. The AFN made its submission in Calgary last month. The Commissioners will now work on the final report and recommendations, expected to be submitted to the Government of Canada in April 2019.

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

For media requests or more information, please contact:

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

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

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Sid LeeEnding Violence Against First Nations Women and Girls Can’t Wait: AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde

Action Required to Address Failings of Thunder Bay Police Service: National Chief Perry Bellegarde

on December 12, 2018

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde said today’s report by the Office of the Independent Police Review Director on the relationship between the Thunder Bay Police Service (TBPS) and First Nations compels immediate action on long-standing and well-known concerns.

“This report is as tragic as it is unsurprising, and it reinforces what First Nations have been saying for years – systemic racism is clearly something that needs to be addressed in a profound and substantial manner,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “This report helps set direction for immediate action. Obviously, current approaches to investigating the deaths and disappearances of First Nations fail all of us, erode trust and exacerbate already strained relationships. Sadly, we’re talking about the death of children in too many instances. I lift up the family of Stacy DeBungee and the leadership of the Rainy River First Nation for pushing this review. The Thunder Bay Police Service must work with First Nations to take action on the recommendations. This includes rebuilding a relationship with First Nations peoples and leadership based on respect and trust.”

The report “Broken Trust: Indigenous People and the Thunder Bay Police Service” released this morning in Thunder Bay found “significant deficiencies” in sudden death investigations involving Indigenous people “due, in part, to racial stereotyping” and that systemic racism exists at an institutional level.

“Sadly, most of the processes looking at how justice is being delivered when it comes to our peoples have fallen short on making the changes needed,” said AFN Regional Chief Ghislain Picard, who is the AFN lead on justice and policing. “Much of it relates to a lack of trust and the belief that indigenous peoples will not be treated with dignity when confronted with non-Indigenous police services.”

First Nation citizens and leaders in Thunder Bay and the surrounding region have long expressed concerns about the treatment of First Nations by city police. The review was triggered by the death of Rainy River First Nation member Stacy DeBungee in October 2015.

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

For media requests or more information, please contact:

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

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

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Sid LeeAction Required to Address Failings of Thunder Bay Police Service: National Chief Perry Bellegarde

AFN National Chief Delivers Strong Message to First Ministers About First Nations Rights in Economic Decision Making

on December 10, 2018

(Montreal, QC): Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde told the Prime Minister and Premiers at the First Ministers Meeting today that permits and licenses should not be given out by governments until companies can prove that they have developed a relationship with the local First Nations, a strategy for First Nations engagement, and opportunities for procurement, employment and revenue sharing.

The National Chief stated that attempts to deny or ignore the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the lack of recognition of free, prior and informed consent are barriers to trade and development.

“The enormous wealth generated in this country from resource development is primarily generated from First Nations lands. And trade in resources and goods began with us, First Nations peoples. Today, our economic interests – as federal, provincial and territorial governments and as First Nations governments – are interdependent,” the National Chief said. “Where First Nations’ rights are not respected, resource development is delayed and costs go up. This uncertainty makes investors wary. Decision making processes for natural resource development projects must involve First Nations from the very initial stages of planning and exploration through to licensing, implementation and close out.”

The National Chief attended the meeting in Montreal with Quebec Regional Chief Ghislain Picard, BC Regional Chief Terry Teegee, Northwest Territories Regional Chief Norman Yakeleya and FSIN Vice-Chief Morley Watson.

The National Chief outlined a number of ways the First Ministers could improve opportunities for First Nations. These included finding more ways to share in revenue and ownership; recruiting and retaining First Nations as part of advisory councils, corporate boards, and any decision-making bodies; consideration of legislation that would require a percentage of procurement be set aside for First Nation businesses and service providers; and improving access to equity.

National Chief Bellegarde stated that working with First Nations is the best way to respect First Nations rights and creates mutual benefits. He also made the point that Canada has an aging workforce and a skilled labour shortage, so it makes economic sense to invest in education and skills training for the fastest growing segment of Canada’s population – young First Nations men and women. The National Indigenous Economic Development Board estimates that Canada is missing out on $27.7 billion annually due to the under-utilization of the Indigenous workforce. 

 

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

 

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For media requests or more information, please contact:

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

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

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Roy WhiteduckAFN National Chief Delivers Strong Message to First Ministers About First Nations Rights in Economic Decision Making

Assembly of First Nations Calls for Criminalization of Forced Sterilization of First Nations Women

on December 7, 2018

(Ottawa, ON): Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde is calling for changes to the laws of Canada and specifically the Criminal Code of Canada to make the forced sterilization of First Nations women a crime, and wants a collaborative approach with First Nations to implement the recommendations issued today by the United Nations Committee Against Torture.

“Forced sterilization is a gross violation of human rights and First Nation rights and it must be criminalized to help bring an end to this inhumane practice,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “We need to implement the recommendations by the United Nations to stop this, and we need justice for the victims of this immoral practice. First Nations women must have a role in this work. We are aware that the federal Justice Minister is currently saying she will not pursue legal changes but we call on Canada to do the right thing – to change the law and conduct a full examination on the scope of the issue and redress for victims.”

The UN Committee Against Torture examined forced sterilizations of Indigenous women in Canada and released its report today in Geneva. The report sets out a number of recommendations, including the need to ensure that “all allegations of forced or coerced sterilization are impartially investigated, that the persons responsible are held accountable and that adequate redress is provided to the victims,” and recommends that Canada “adopt legislative and policy measures to prevent and criminalize the forced or coerced involuntary sterilization of women, particularly by clearly defining the requirements of free, prior and informed consent with regard to sterilization and by raising awareness among Indigenous women and medical personnel of that requirement.”

AFN Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald, who holds the portfolio for the AFN Women’s Council, said: “Women have a right and sovereignty over their own bodies and the forced and coerced sterilization of Indigenous women goes against the grain of our collective existence. Indigenous women, and all women, carry and share the greatest energy on the planet and that is love. It is love that grows our families, our communities and our nations, and the doctors involved have interfered in this sacred process of life. I ask all women of every race and creed to become our allies and join us as we fight this great tragedy. We need to implement all Calls to Action in the External Review completed by Doctors Boyer and Barlett on tubal litigation in Saskatchewan. As Ontario Regional Chief, I offer my support to the women coming forward to launch the class-action lawsuit in Saskatchewan. I know justice will prevail.”

A national resolution was passed this week at the AFN Special Chiefs Assembly to support the class action claimants of forced sterilization in seeking redress and to advocate for changes to the Criminal Code of Canada to criminalize forced sterilization in Canada. The resolution builds on an AFN resolution from July 2018 calling for efforts to raise awareness about forced sterilization and reproductive rights, to support efforts to stop the forced sterilization of Indigenous women, and to support justice and redress for victims of forced sterilization.

“The forced sterilization of First Nation women is a crime and is just one in a number of actions the state has taken throughout history,” said AFN Women’s Council Chair Chief Denise Stonefish. “The fact that it is still occurring today is completely unacceptable and the laws of Canada should reflect that truth. Forced sterilization is an attack on First Nations women and robs their bodily autonomy and integrity. It also robs our nations of our future generations, so it is no less than a form of genocide. I applaud today’s recommendations from the UN Committee and as a First Nations woman and a Chief I demand that Canada take action.”

Last month, Maurice Law and Amnesty International Canada made a submission to the UN Committee Against Torture regarding forced sterilization of Indigenous women seeking legal reforms to stop the “modern-day forced sterilization of Indigenous women in publicly funded and administered hospitals in Canada”.  A 2017 lawsuit by two affected women in Saskatoon Health Region is now the basis of a proposed class action lawsuit involving about 60 women against all health regions across Saskatchewan, the federal and Saskatchewan governments and individual medical professionals.

 

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
613-859-6831
[email protected]

Monica Poirier
Bilingual Communications Officer
613-241-6789 ext. 382
613-290-0706 (cell)
[email protected]

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Roy WhiteduckAssembly of First Nations Calls for Criminalization of Forced Sterilization of First Nations Women

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Mourns Passing of Respected Sagkeeng Anicinabe Elder Elmer Courchene, Chair and Member of AFN Elders Council

on December 5, 2018

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde said the passing this morning of respected Elder Elmer Courchene of Sagkeeng Anicinabe First Nation is a profound loss for First Nations across Turtle Island.

“Elder Elmer Courchene was a proud, sovereign Anicinabe who understood deeply his traditional teachings, values and ceremonies,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “He always took time to share those teachings with young people, with political leaders, and people from all cultures because those teachings held insight and value for all of us. I always valued his words and guidance. Losing Elmer is like losing a part of our history. But his teachings and spirit remain. Today I convey my deepest condolences and prayers to his family and community.”

Elder Elmer Courchene is from Sagkeeng First Nation in what is now Manitoba. He is a respected Elder across Turtle Island and known as a strong advocate for sovereignty, culture and language, and the rights and safety of First Nations women, girls and children. He was strong in his traditional language and, as a survivor of the Fort Alexander Residential School, understood the importance of maintaining and revitalizing First Nations languages and teachings.

“My heart is broken, and I offer condolences to the Courchene family, the Manitoba and Ontario regions and every individual and leader Elmer has guided over the years,” AFN Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin Hart told the AFN Special Chiefs Assembly this morning. “Elmer has a strong spirit and was a true warrior. He gave his life to his people until his very last breath.  This showed in his life’s work.  Elmer’s legacy is in the vision he shared with us for the seven generations ahead and the little ones.  It will continue in all our work going forward as we uphold our sovereignty and nationhood.”

Elder Elmer Courchene became the resident Elder at the Assembly of First Nations in 2005 and first served as Chair of the AFN Elder’s Council under National Chief Phil Fontaine. During that time, he helped advise in the negotiations that led to the historic Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.

“Elders are precious and they have walked a life of teaching and passing on their knowledge to young people,” said AFN Regional Chief for the Northwest Territories Norman Yakaleya. “Truly, Elder Elmer has walked this path and ‘Mahsi’ for your guidance, and on behalf of the Elders Council and Dené Nation we pray for his family at this time.”

As Chair and long-serving member of the Elder’s Council, Elder Courchene provided advice and guidance to National Chief Phil Fontaine, National Chief Shawn Atleo and National Chief Bellegarde. The AFN Special Chief’s Assembly began yesterday with acknowledgement and prayers for Elder Courchene, and a chair and blanket are in place with the Elders as a reminder of his presence and spirit.

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

For media requests or more information, please contact:

Jenna Young Castro
Senior Communications Advisor

613-241-6789 ext. 201
613-314-8157 (cell)
[email protected]

Monica Poirier
Bilingual Communications Officer
613-241-6789 ext. 382
613-290-0706 (cell)
[email protected]

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Roy WhiteduckAFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Mourns Passing of Respected Sagkeeng Anicinabe Elder Elmer Courchene, Chair and Member of AFN Elders Council

National Chief Bulletin – Co-Development of Federal Legislation for Indigenous Children and Families

on November 30, 2018

SUMMARY:  

  • On November 30, 2018 AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde along with Indigenous Services Canada Minister Jane Philpott and leaders of the Inuit Tapariit Kanatami and Métis Nation announced the intention to co-develop legislation that will benefit First Nations, Inuit and Métis children and families.
  • The legislation will respect existing processes, recognize the distinctions between First Nations, Inuit and Métis, and fully respect First Nations inherent and Treaty rights and jurisdiction.

On November 30, I stood with Indigenous Services Canada Minister Jane Philpott, Inuit Tapariit Kanatami President Natan Obed and Métis Nation President Clément Chartier to announce our shared intention to co-develop legislation that will respect First Nations rights, cultures and family structures and affirm the inherent jurisdiction of First Nations to care for our children.

Our children are sacred.  They are the focus and center of our Nations and they deserve every opportunity to fulfil their dreams and succeed.

The work toward new co-developed federal legislation is a response to years of pressure for action and reform.  Decades of underfunding and misguided approaches have harmed our children and families.  Outdated laws and policies have created a situation where our children are grossly over-represented in the child welfare system. Legislation is an important piece of more comprehensive reform across the entire system.

The goal is to apply First Nations law, policies and values with First Nations designing, building and implementing systems that work for their children and families. The aim is to support First Nations in building their systems through their own governance and laws, to keep the circle of community strong, and to protect our children.

These efforts are based on our right to care for our children. A co-development approach to legislation puts First Nations at the decision-making table to lead reforms based on our rights, our teachings and innovative approaches that work for our families.

New legislation must focus on prevention rather than apprehension. It must respect First Nations jurisdiction, inherent rights and our rights recognized domestically and in international law, including those articulated in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Legislation must be consistent with the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

New legislation will not infringe on any existing agreements or impede existing processes that First Nations are working on, including recent agreements in regions across the country. And the overall approach must recognize the unique and distinct needs of First Nations, Inuit and Métis.

We are committed to working together as quickly as possible for our children.  There is much work we can draw on from many successful First Nations child welfare systems.  We will build on existing efforts and will continue to collaborate and seek direction.

This is truly a new chapter for our children and families – one where we write the laws, policies and values that apply to our children regardless of where they reside. A collaborative effort led by First Nations is the right way to go and the right way to protect our rights and our children.

You will hear more about this work at our upcoming AFN Special Chiefs Assembly December 4 – 6 and we will keep you involved and informed throughout this work.

Like everything we do, this is for our children and our future.

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Roy WhiteduckNational Chief Bulletin – Co-Development of Federal Legislation for Indigenous Children and Families

AFN National Chief Supports First Nations Seeking Immediate Action and Impact Study of Pulp Mill Effluent Dumped into the Northumberland Strait

on November 29, 2018

(Ottawa, ON): Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde expressed concern and support for the Pictou Landing First Nation and other First Nations who are apprehensive of a plan to dump millions of liters of pulp mill effluent into the Northumberland Strait.

“It is up to Ottawa to ensure any plan to deal with the mill waste will not impact the First Nations that use the Northumberland Strait for food gathering, water, tourism opportunities, and recreation and swimming,” said National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “The population surrounding the Northern Pulp mill should not have to bear the burden of this company’s waste. It is crucial that the impact be studied before any dumping occurs and that First Nations in the region be fully informed and give their approval to any proposal.”

AFN Nova Scotia-Newfoundland Regional Chief Morley Googoo is also concerned about the environmental impact of the effluent dump: “Environmental stewardship is an ancestral legacy of the Mi’kmaw people. I fully support Chief Andrea Paul and the community of Pictou Landing in their efforts to cease the dumping of Northern Pulp’s effluent into the Northumberland Strait and their commitment to mandate a federal environmental assessment.”

AFN New Brunswick/Prince Edward Island Regional Chief Roger Augustine expressed serious concern that First Nations in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI have not heard of Northern Pulp Mill’s plans to discharge effluent into the Northumberland Strait: “The Departments of Environment and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, let alone the Prime Minister’s office, is well aware of the drastic effects such a move could have.  So much work is being done with the National Fisheries program, and to see something like this even being considered without taking into consideration our Indigenous Knowledge is an insult.”

The AFN office of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island will work closely with the AFN office of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland to ensure this plan does not move forward. The AFN Regional Chiefs believe dumping polluting effluent into the Strait will impact their peoples’ inherent rights.

 

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

 

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For media requests or more information, please contact:

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

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

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Roy WhiteduckAFN National Chief Supports First Nations Seeking Immediate Action and Impact Study of Pulp Mill Effluent Dumped into the Northumberland Strait

Assembly of First Nations Reiterates need for Safety and Security and Action to Eliminate Violence Against Women

on November 23, 2018

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde and Chair of the AFN Women’s Council Chief Denise Stonefish released the below statements in advance of the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women acknowledged globally November 25.

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde:

“First Nations women are integral to the strength and success of our nations and the country. They form the foundations of our cultures, languages, laws and families and they represent the resilience and determination of our ancestors.  Violence against First Nations women and girls in any form is completely unacceptable and must not be tolerated in Canada.  Every person and every government has a role in ending gender-based violence and in building a country we can all be proud of, a country where every person is valued, safe and secure in their homes and communities.  On this International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and every day, I urge all levels of government to work together with First Nations to achieve safety and security for First Nations women and girls and to end violence against all women. We can and must do better to ensure the women in our lives, our loved ones, our mothers, aunts, sisters, daughters, nieces and cousins are respected and that their rights to safety and security are upheld.”

AFN Women’s Council Chair Chief Denise Stonefish:

“In 1945, the founding United Charter included a provision for equality between men and women.  Since then, there have been many UN resolutions and conferences on women’s equality, elimination of discrimination against women, women’s human rights and ending violence against women and girls.  This is 2018 and Indigenous women and girls are still experiencing extensive abuse and violence.  The United Nations should not be the only entity to make annual reminders on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.  All must bring global attention to the continued advocacy and promotion of gender equality, empowerment and ending violence against Indigenous women and girls.”

This year’s UN theme for global action is “Orange the World: #HearMeToo”.  Today launches 16 days of activism that will conclude on International Human Rights Day December 10, 2018.  For more information visit: http://www.un.org/en/events/endviolenceday/

 

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:

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]

read more
Roy WhiteduckAssembly of First Nations Reiterates need for Safety and Security and Action to Eliminate Violence Against Women

AFN National Chief Says Fall Fiscal Update Underscores Need for Sustained Investment to Close the Gap and will Flag Priorities at First Ministers Meeting

on November 22, 2018

(Ottawa, ON) – Following yesterday’s Fall Fiscal Update released by federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde says commitments and investments in First Nations priorities show progress, but much more needs to be done to build stronger First Nations for a stronger Canada.

“It’s positive to see targeted investments for First Nations and First Nations children, our most valuable resource,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde.  “I look forward to further discussions with Minister Morneau and others at the upcoming First Ministers Meeting in December on how sustained investments and tangible action can maintain momentum and continue progress on closing the gap between First Nations and Canadians.”

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau released the Fall Fiscal update late yesterday. It outlined Canada’s plans to accelerate investment and address deficits.  Some highlights include an announcement of $14 billion in tax cuts to accelerate business investment and $3 Billion in new spending beyond the measures in Budget 2018 for items such as strategic innovation and increasing access to new markets for exports. The update references $297 million in 2018-19 for Jordan’s Principle, Nutrition North ($63 million over 5 years), and a response to the interim report of the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

First Nations have successfully advocated for a total of $17 billion in federal funding directed to critical First Nations priorities in the past three federal budgets, but a huge gap in living standards between First Nations and Canadians remains.

“Recent federal budgets have shown unprecedented investments in First Nations priorities, but progress does not equal parity,” said National Chief Bellegarde.  “I look forward to First Nations being part of real progress in key areas like child welfare and First Nations languages before the end of this year.  First Nations have been working together with the federal government on these priorities with the goal toward a better future for our children, and I’m keen to discuss this further with federal and provincial ministers next month.  Stronger First Nations will mean a stronger Canada.”

The AFN participated in the pre-budget submission process, detailing areas that require investments.

 

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:

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]

read more
Roy WhiteduckAFN National Chief Says Fall Fiscal Update Underscores Need for Sustained Investment to Close the Gap and will Flag Priorities at First Ministers Meeting

AFN BULLETIN – Report to First Nations on National Housing and Infrastructure Forum

on November 19, 2018

AFN National Housing and Infrastructure Forum – October 30 to November 1, 2018, Vancouver, BC

Summary:

  • The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) hosted its third National Housing and Infrastructure Forum to showcase innovation and further develop the First Nations 10 Year National Housing and Related Infrastructure Strategy.
  • The revised Strategy will be presented for discussion at the upcoming AFN Special Chiefs Assembly in Ottawa, December 4 to 6, 2018.

The AFN hosted its third National Housing and Infrastructure Forum and Tradeshow from October 30 to November 1 in Vancouver, British Columbia.  More than 500 First Nations leaders, Housing Directors, Community Housing and Infrastructure Councillors and others gathered under the theme “First Nations Housing and Related Infrastructure Strategy Developed by First Nations for First Nations”.

The goal of the Forums is for participants to provide input on the development of the First Nations National Housing and Related Infrastructure Strategy, a strategy aimed at ensuring that all First Nations members living in or away from their First Nations have access to housing that suits their needs.

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde delivered remarks on the first day of the Forum, encouraging participants to find effective First Nations-led solutions to housing and infrastructure needs, and refine the 10 Year National Strategy. AFN Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin Hart, portfolio holder for Housing and Infrastructure, welcomed delegates and asked that they share, learn and discuss innovative housing and infrastructure solutions to the First Nations housing crisis.

Forum participants heard a powerful keynote from Ms. Victoria Kingi, a Maori from New Zealand and Director of Papakainga Solutions Limited. She spoke of her work leading innovating housing projects in her homelands. Ms. Kingi and her team designed and launched the only tribal shared equity scheme to enable home ownership for tribal members on Treaty settlement land. She spoke of challenges and solutions in developing affordable housing projects, Treaty settlement housing and commercial property development strategies on both Maori and general land.

Presentations continued in the afternoon with an update on the work of the AFN Chiefs Committee on Housing and Infrastructure, and presentations by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation on Canada’s National Housing Strategy, and Employment and Social Development Canada on Canada’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy.

Day Two of the Forum featured some innovative approaches to housing. Youthbuild International showcased its programs in Winnipeg and the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation. Both programs receive support from Indigenous Services Canada and the Manitoba Government. The programs offer academic, vocational and on-the-job training. The program in Winnipeg encourages youth to stay in school and helps develop career plans. The program at Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation is unique in that it provides youth who are not in school employment and training opportunities by building housing in their community. Students obtain an apprenticeship level in carpentry and become “job ready.” Participants heard from Niginan Housing Ventures, a registered charity formed to address the needs of Indigenous people living in Edmonton. Their first development, Ambrose Place, is named after Ambrose Daniels who passed away of pneumonia on the streets of Edmonton. Ambrose Place is a housing complex that provides assisted living and culturally sensitive support services to homeless individuals.

Participants learned about the Shawenim Abinoojii Inc. Specialized Foster Home Program, aimed at addressing the lack of placements for First Nations children in care. Many First Nations children are placed in Winnipeg due to lack of placements in their own First Nations. The Specialized Foster Home Program oversees the operation of 33 First Nations foster homes in eight First Nations near Winnipeg.

Participants at the Forum had the opportunity to attend workshops on topics relating to Governance and Delivery, Funding and Finance, Skills and Capacity, and Urban, Rural and Northern Housing. Day Three culminated in a full plenary discussion on the First Nations National Housing and Related Infrastructure Strategy, and participants provided their feedback and input.

The AFN’s revised First Nations 10 Year National Housing and Related Infrastructure Strategy will be presented for discussion at the upcoming AFN Special Chiefs Assembly in Ottawa, December 4 to 6, 2018.

A report and all presentations from the Forum will be available soon on the AFN website at www.afn.ca. Everyone is encouraged to review the material to find out about innovative programs and approaches to this priority area.

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Roy WhiteduckAFN BULLETIN – Report to First Nations on National Housing and Infrastructure Forum
Assembly of First Nations
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