News

AFN STATEMENT REGARDING THE SUSPENSION OF NATIONAL CHIEF ROSEANNE ARCHIBALD

on June 17, 2022

Today, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Executive Committee and national Board of Directors of the AFN voted to suspend National Chief RoseAnne Archibald, effective immediately. The decision to suspend the national chief was prompted by her public statement issued on June 16, 2022, that breached her obligations to the AFN – contrary to her Oath of Office, the organization’s Code of Conduct and AFN Whistleblower Policy.

The National Chief was suspended with pay pending the outcome of a current investigation into four complaints against her. She will be suspended until the Executive Committee reviews the investigation report and makes a final decision regarding her status.

The National Chief has been ordered not to discuss the on-going investigation publicly and is prohibited from attending the Annual General Assembly and Chief’s Assembly meeting in early July.

“It is regrettable that we had to take this severe action but we had no other choice. The National Chief has committed serious breaches of her obligations to the AFN through unfounded and unsubstantiated public attacks on the integrity of our organization and our employees that will only serve to undermine the good work we do as we continue to serve our First Nations communities,” said Regional Chief Paul Prosper, an AFN spokesperson.

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Media contact:

English: Regional Chief Paul Prosper – (902) 751-0641
French: Regional Chief Ghislain Picard – (514) 754 2233

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Angie TurnerAFN STATEMENT REGARDING THE SUSPENSION OF NATIONAL CHIEF ROSEANNE ARCHIBALD

AFN YUKON REGIONAL CHIEF ADAMEK SAYS INDEPENDENT CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION OF RESIDENTIAL INSTITUTIONS STILL NEEDED

on June 8, 2022

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Yukon Regional Chief Kluane Adamek says the appointment of an independent Special Interlocutor today by federal Justice Minister David Lametti does not eliminate the need for an independent investigation of crimes and human rights violations associated with Residential Institutions.

“While the appointment of an independent Special Interlocutor is one element needed to move forward with protecting unmarked burial sites, the Assembly of First Nations will continue to press for an independent criminal investigation so those responsible for the crimes that took place are held accountable,” said Regional Chief Kluane Adamek. “Truth is required before reconciliation and having an impartial investigation of the critical violations of First Nations human rights, with the same urgency and investment as with this appointment, is required to pave the way for accountability and real justice.”

Minister Lametti announced the appointment of Kimberly Murray to the role of Independent Special Interlocutor for Missing Children and Unmarked Graves and Burial Sites associated with Indian Residential Schools to identify needed measures and recommend a new federal framework to ensure the respectful and culturally appropriate treatment of unmarked graves and burial sites of children at former Residential Institutions. The federal Department of Justice announced in August 2021 it would appoint a Special Interlocutor and provided $10.4 million for the role over two years in the 2022 federal budget.

AFN National Chief RoseAnne Archibald called for a United Nations (UN) Human Rights Commission Special Rapporteur to investigate crimes and human rights violations associated with Residential Institutions at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues on April 25, 2022. UN Special Rapporteur Francisco Cali Tzay has told media he will visit Canada but is not mandated to investigate crimes related to Residential Institutions. The National Chief has requested a meeting with him during his visit to speak about other international options. The AFN has also asked the International Criminal Court to investigate and hold all parties responsible for Residential Institutions accountable for crimes against humanity.

 

The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is a national advocacy organization that works to advance the collective aspirations of First Nations individuals and communities across Canada on matters of national or international nature and concern. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.

 

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Contact information:

Lori Kittelberg
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
604-340-3117 (mobile)
[email protected]

Kelly Reid
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-292-0857 (mobile)
[email protected]

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Roy WhiteduckAFN YUKON REGIONAL CHIEF ADAMEK SAYS INDEPENDENT CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION OF RESIDENTIAL INSTITUTIONS STILL NEEDED

STATEMENT BY ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS NATIONAL CHIEF ROSEANNE ARCHIBALD FOLLOWING EVENT WITH HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS THE PRINCE OF WALES

on May 18, 2022

OTTAWA, ON —Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief RoseAnne Archibald issued the following statement following her attendance at the Platinum Jubilee reception at Rideau Hall in Ottawa this evening as part of the Canadian Royal Tour of Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall. The event brought together Canadians who have dedicated their lives to the service of their communities.

“In my moment with His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, I emphasized Truth and Reconciliation with First Nations peoples and the need for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to acknowledge and then apologize for the Crown’s ongoing failure to fulfil its Treaty agreements with its First Nations partners as well as acknowledge and apologize to Survivors and Intergenerational Trauma Survivors as leader of the Anglican faith for the role the Church played in Institutions of Assimilation and Genocide in Canada.

The Royal Proclamation of 1763, issued with the Royal Will and Pleasure of His Majesty King George III, declared that the several Nations or Tribes of Indians with whom the Crown of the United Kingdom is connected and who live under the Protection of the Crown, should not be molested or disturbed.

 Between 1820 and 1996, the Anglican Church of Canada managed, with express authorisation of the Canadian government, close to 40 Institutions of Assimilation and Genocide.

As leader of the AFN, it is my duty to advise His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales that the very frauds and abuses which The Royal Proclamation directed be ended have only been perpetrated and permitted and that cannot and should not occur further. It’s essential that the Sovereign now intercede to ensure that the directives of the Proclamation and the promises of Treaty be strictly observed; that full equitable restitution of the subsequent genocides, frauds, abuses, and infringements occur; and that Inherent and Treaty Rights of Indigenous Peoples are maintained, preserved, and protected.”

 

Media Contact:

Andrew St. Germain
Office of the National Chief
[email protected]

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Roy WhiteduckSTATEMENT BY ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS NATIONAL CHIEF ROSEANNE ARCHIBALD FOLLOWING EVENT WITH HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS THE PRINCE OF WALES

ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS BULLETIN – Federal Budget 2022

on April 8, 2022

SUMMARY: 

  • The federal budget was tabled in the House of Commons on April 7, 2022.
  • The Budget 2022 commits a total of $11 billion over 6 years for Indigenous priorities, an average of $1.8 billion per year.
  • The $11 billion is a substantial reduction from the rate of investment this government had made over its first 6 years in office and falls short in addressing the urgent and long-term needs identified by First Nations.
  • The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is pleased to see the investment in child and family services, specifically the $4 billion to support the full application of Jordan’s Principle.
  • The AFN conducted a thorough analysis of First Nations housing needs, identifying a required investment of $44 billion over 10 years. The $3 billion over five years for First Nations housing falls short of the AFN’s well-researched identified need.
  • Many of the priorities identified in the AFN’s pre-budget submission, such as governance, implementing the MMIWG Calls to Justice and post-secondary education, saw no new investments. This will slow First Nations’ recovery and participation in the economy.
  • The AFN will continue to advocate for consistent and sustained investments to support the ongoing healing of First Nations and to close the socio-economic gap.

The 2022 federal budget tabled Thursday April 7, 2022 by federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland commits a total of $11 billion for Indigenous priorities.

The $11 billion over six years – an average of $1.8 billion per year – is a substantial reduction from the rate of investment the federal government had made over its first 6 years in office and falls short in addressing the urgent and long-term needs identified by First Nations. For comparison, the 2018 Budget committed $18 billion to Indigenous priorities over five years.

Many of the priorities identified in the AFN’s pre-budget submission, such as governance, implementing the MMIWG Calls to Justice and First Nations post-secondary education programs, saw no new investments. This will slow First Nations’ recovery and participation in the economy.

Much more is needed to meet current needs, account for growth and repair the systemic inequalities faced by First Nations for generations. When First Nations are strengthened, so too are Canada’s economy and its social fabric, and we can all enjoy a more prosperous future.

The majority of the investment for Indigenous priorities is committed to child and family services, namely Jordan’s Principle, and housing.

Child and Family Services

Budget 2022 commits to addressing past harms and discrimination related to Indigenous children and families. This commitment includes $4 billion over six years to support the full application of Jordan’s Principle.

Housing

The federal budget commits $3 billion over five years for First Nations housing. This falls short of the AFN’s well-researched identified need of $44 billion over 10 years, $60 billion when population growth is taken into account. First Nations have been living with the impacts of a housing shortage for generations – investing appropriately will empower First Nations to exercise jurisdiction over housing, and to see more positive outcomes in health, education and economic progress.

Additional information on these commitments, along with investments for residential institutions, health, education, infrastructure, UNDRIPA, climate change, natural resources, economic development, tourism and firefighting, are detailed in the attached chart.

The AFN will continue to advocate for consistent and sustained investments to close the socio-economic gap which widened as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. For further details on all programs included in the $11 billion investment for Indigenous peoples, please see the attached chart.

For further information and updates, please follow @AFN_Updates or visit www.afn.ca.

Summary Chart: Federal Budget 2022 Investments in First Nations Issues

Subject Amount Timeline Notes Budget Page
Child and Family Services $4.427.3 B Pg. 168-169
Jordan’s Principle $4B 6 years Includes $200M in 2021-22
W.I.N. agreement $340M 10 years
C-92 implementation $87.3M 3 years
Residential Schools $274.5M Pg. 170
Burial Sites, memorials, NCTR, documents $209.8M 5 years
Special Interlocutor $10.4M 2 years Recipient -Department of Justice
RCMP support $5.1M 5 years Recipient – RCMP
Documentation $25M 3 years Recipient – Library & Archives Canada
Commemoration $25M 3 years Recipient – Parks Canada
Health $686.1M Pg. 171-172
NIHB $268M 1 year
Indigenous Community Support Fund $190.5M 1 year
Mental Wellness $227.6M 2 years
Education $310.6M Pg. 172
Regional Education Agreement $310.6M 5 years Recipient – 22 Quebec First Nations
Infrastructure $733M Pg. 172-173
Community infrastructure $398M 2 years Minimum $247M for water and wastewater
Atlantic First Nations Water Authority $173.2M 10 years Recipient – 17 Atlantic First Nations
Lubicon Lake Band $162.6M 3 years Settlement agreement
Housing $3.085B Pg. 174
First Nations on-reserve $2.4B 5 years
SGA Holders $565M 5 years
NWT $60M 2 years
Yukon $30M 2 years
UNDRIPA $75.3M Pg. 175
National Action Plan $65.8M 5 years $11M ongoing
Department of Defence $9.5M 5 years
Climate Change $209.6M Pg. 176
Indigenous climate leadership $29.6M 3 years
Indigenous Leadership fund $180M Announced March 29 as part of Climate Plan
Natural Resources $131.3M
Benefit Agreements $103.4M 5 years Includes $25M for engagement and capacity building
Line 3 and Trans Mountain Indigenous Advisory and Monitoring Committees $27.9M 2 years
Economic Development $200M Pg. 177
“Shovel-ready” opportunities $150M 5 years
Northern Economic Development Agency $15M 5 years
Economic capacity supports $35M 5 years
Tourism $24.8M Pg. 83
New Indigenous tourism fund $20M 2 years
Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada $4.8M 2 years
Firefighting $39.2M Pg. 103
Equipment for First Nations $39.2M 5 years

 

Relevant legislative and non-monetary announcements in the budget:

  • Amendments to the Children’s Special Allowances Act and to the Income Tax Act
  • First Nations Land Management Act will be replaced by the Framework Agreement on First Nation Land Management Act
  • Anishinabek Nation Governance Agreement Act
  • Creation of an optional Fuel, alcohol, cannabis and tobacco (FACT) sales tax for Indigenous governments
  • Amending the Income Tax Act to exclude from taxation income from the Safe Drinking Water Trust established class action settlement
  • Re-commitment to repeal the Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act
  • Up to 50% of loans under the COVID-Indigenous Business Initiative can be forgiven

Also of note, $2 billion over 9 years for the Oceans Protection Plan and a signal of amendments coming to the Canada Shipping Act to protect the marine environment.

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Roy WhiteduckASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS BULLETIN – Federal Budget 2022

NATIONAL CHIEF ARCHIBALD SAYS FIRST NATIONS REQUIRE ECONOMIC RECONCILIATION TO ADVANCE HEALING PATH FORWARD

on April 7, 2022

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief RoseAnne Archibald says the 2022 federal budget tabled today in Ottawa falls short in addressing the urgent and long-term needs identified by First Nations and that First Nations must share in the wealth derived from the land and resources of Canada.

“First Nations require economic reconciliation and a path forward that supports a process where First Nations benefit from the resources extracted from their lands and waters,” said AFN National Chief RoseAnne Archibald. “Canada derives its wealth from First Nations lands, while First Nations seek investments from budget cycle to budget cycle. All of the wealth in Canada is built on First Nations land. When First Nations are in a position to build their economies and have access to the wealth derived from their lands and waters, they won’t need to look to budget cycles for investments. First Nations need to be supported to build their own wealth and have access to the wealth derived from their lands and waters, and we need to build the agreements required to do this.”

The federal budget released today by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland identifies $11 billion over six years (average $1.8 billion per year) in new investment for Indigenous priorities and includes a $4 billion investment toward Jordan’s Principle and about $3 billion for First Nations housing. Many of the priorities identified in the AFN’s pre-budget submission, such as governance, implementing the MMIWG Calls to Justice and non-water related infrastructure saw no new investments.

“I’m pleased to see investments in housing and to child and family services, specifically to support the full application of Jordan’s Principle, but overall investments fall short based well documented research,” said National Chief Archibald. “I will continue to work to ensure First Nations have the fiscal capacity to exercise rights, title and jurisdiction and that First Nations priorities are supported and advanced at every level. When First Nations people are in a position to thrive, so too will Canada’s economy and its social fabric.”

The AFN conducted thorough analysis of First Nations housing needs, identifying a required investment of $44 billion over 10 years. The $2.4 billion over five years for First Nations housing falls short of the AFN’s well-researched identified need.

The AFN took part in the pre-budget submission process and outlined specific asks in a number of priority investment areas, such as rights implementation, governance, restorative justice, education, health, infrastructure, economic development, environment, housing and to reform the First Nations Child and Family Services program and implement the Missing and murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ Calls for Justice and to support the investigations and commemoration of unmarked graves and other Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action.

For the full AFN pre-budget submission click here: http://www.afn.ca/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/2022-2023-AFN-Preliminary-Budget-Submission.pdf

The AFN is conducting a full analysis on investments to be made available in coming days.

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

 

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Contact information:

Jamie Monastyrski
Press Secretary
Office of the National Chief
613-612-7229 (mobile)
[email protected]

Lori Kittelberg
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
604-340-3117 (mobile)
[email protected]

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Roy WhiteduckNATIONAL CHIEF ARCHIBALD SAYS FIRST NATIONS REQUIRE ECONOMIC RECONCILIATION TO ADVANCE HEALING PATH FORWARD

ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS BULLETIN – Update on Immediate Measures on Long-Term Reform to the First Nations Child and Family Services Program and Jordan’s Principle

on April 6, 2022

SUMMARY:

  • The Assembly of First Nations is leading advocacy efforts for reform of the First Nations Child and Family Services (FNCFS) Program and the full implementation of Jordan’s Principle through the ongoing negotiations towards a Final Settlement Agreement on long-term reform.
  • Several immediate measures that bring much needed changes to the FNCFS Program and Jordan’s Principle took effect on April 1, 2022. These measures address significant and urgent funding gaps in service and equality for First Nations children, families and communities.
  • In addition to immediate program changes, Indigenous Services Canada will fund research that rigorously tests a First Nations-led funding framework with First Nations research partners that responds to child, family and community wellbeing priorities.

The Assembly of First Nations (AFN), along with other First Nations advocates and leaders, have fought for decades for Canada to end discrimination in the First Nations Child and Family Services (FNCFS) program and its narrow application of Jordan’s Principle. A landmark 2016 Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) ruling, in response to a complaint launched by the AFN and its partners, found that Canada discriminates against First Nations children and families and ordered Canada to end its discrimination by reforming the FNCFS program and fully implementing Jordan’s Principle.

On December 31, 2021, the AFN, other Parties to the CHRT, and the Government of Canada signed an historic Agreement-in-Principle (AIP). This AIP provides a roadmap for negotiations towards a final settlement agreement to be finalized later this year and earmarks $19.8 billion for the reform of the FNCFS Program and Jordan’s Principle.

While the important work toward long-term reform of the FNCFS Program and proper implementation of Jordan’s Principle continues at the negotiation table, the AFN has also advocated for critical, immediate reforms implemented on April 1, 2022.

Beginning April 1, 2022, First Nations young adults reaching the age of majority while in care and those who aged out of care will be eligible to continue to access services until their 26th birthday. These services range from mental health supports to financial literacy, to nutrition and cooking classes. Funding for these services is designed to meet the individual needs of First Nations young adults and will be reimbursed at actual costs to First Nations and FNCFS providers.

Additionally, the Government of Canada has committed to assessing the resources required to support families and for young adults to navigate and access services for high-needs Jordan’s Principle recipients beyond the age of majority. This is to support youth who are transitioning into adulthood.

Also effective April 1, 2022 is enhanced funding for prevention activities and services to First Nations and delegated agencies based on a rate of $2,500 per person on-reserve. This new funding amount was determined through First Nations-led research as the total figure needed to provide prevention services and activities in a First Nation. This means that prevention funding will cover necessary programs for every individual living in First Nations communities, not just children and families identified as at-risk or already involved with FNCFS.

The Government of Canada will also fund ongoing research into a First Nations-led funding framework for FNCFS that emphasizes wholistic wellbeing. The funding framework is designed to support First Nations control over community wellness priorities. The results of this research will support First Nations in using their own data in order to make meaningful funding decisions. The Government of Canada will also fund research, data and needs assessments for First Nations not served by a FNCFS Agency, as well as Jordan’s Principle.

On March 24, 2022, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal issued an order on consent of the Parties that outlines and affirms these immediate measures (2022 CHRT 8).

The AFN will be supporting engagement sessions on long-term reform at national and regional levels throughout 2022. These engagement sessions will provide First Nations with the opportunity to hear about long-term reform of the FNCFS Program and implementation of Jordan’s Principle and provide a venue to have their ideas, feedback and experiences heard.

The AFN will continue to advocate for a final settlement that reflects First Nations’ priorities and is based on First Nations-led research that addresses systemic discrimination, and supports First Nations children, families and communities to thrive.

Please visit www.fnchildcompensation.ca for additional information and to sign up for updates.

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Roy WhiteduckASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS BULLETIN – Update on Immediate Measures on Long-Term Reform to the First Nations Child and Family Services Program and Jordan’s Principle

PAPAL APOLOGY AN HISTORIC STEP, SAYS ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS REGIONAL CHIEF

on April 1, 2022

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) NWT Regional Chief Gerald Antoine is pleased with the outcome of private and public meetings with His Holiness Pope Francis at the Vatican this week and looks forward to the Head of the Catholic Church visiting Canada later this year to meet with First Nations and other Indigenous peoples.

“I am honoured to have led the delegation to the Vatican and to stand with survivors, youth and knowledge keepers and to be joined by our Métis and Inuit brothers and sisters,” said AFN NWT Regional Chief Gerald Antoine.  “The acknowledgment of genocide and the apology offered today by Pope Francis is a significant gesture and an historic step to fulfilling the requests of the former residential school students which is supported by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #58. The next step is an apology to all our original nation of families in our home, Turtle Island.”

The AFN delegation, consisting of survivors of residential institutions, leaders, Knowledge Keepers and youth met with Pope Francis at the Vatican yesterday to seek acknowledgement of the claim by the Roman Catholic Church related to the right of domination over everyone and everything and an apology for its role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical and sexual violence of First Nations in Catholic-run Residential Institutions to be delivered by the Pope in Canada.

At a public gathering at the Vatican earlier today Pope Francis offered an apology to the full Indigenous delegation (First Nations, Metis and Inuit) and committed to visiting Canada later this year.

“The words ‘I am very sorry’ are for my mother who attended St. Anne’s institution and all who did not live to see this day, especially our little ones who lay in unmarked graves across Turtle Island,” said AFN National Chief RoseAnne Archibald. “This long overdue apology by the Pope is welcomed and we must work with urgency on the next steps on our healing path forward, which includes action on reparations and revoking the Doctrine of Discovery.”

The rescinding of the Doctrines of Discovery is the most important requirement as it is the seed that gave birth to genocidal processes which the residential institutions is one of these genocidal processes of domination.

“We leave Rome optimistic to receive an apology offered to all our nation of families when the Pope visits Turtle Island later this year,” said AFN Regional Chief Antoine. “I humbly stand in unity with the full AFN, Métis and Inuit delegation respecting all survivors of residential institutions and their families and encourage us to look forward, to host and welcome Pope Francis’s visit to our homeland. There is still much work to be done for the planning and decision making for this potential visit.”

The AFN supports all 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) to encouragingly be aligned to support and assist all original Nations of families.  TRC Call to Action #58 supports the families requests on the Pope to issue an apology to Survivors, their families, and communities for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children in Catholic-run residential schools.

For more information on the AFN delegation please visit: www.afn.ca/vatican/.

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

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Contact information:

Jamie Monastyrski

Press Secretary

Office of the National Chief

613-612-7229 (mobile)

[email protected]

 

Andrew St. Germain

Communications Coordinator

Office of the National Chief

416-543-1690 (mobile)

[email protected]

 

Kelly Reid

Communications Officer

Assembly of First Nations

613-292-0857 (mobile)

[email protected]

 

Leanne Goose

Press Secretary

Office of Regional Chief Antoine

587-986-6215 (mobile)

[email protected]

 

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Roy WhiteduckPAPAL APOLOGY AN HISTORIC STEP, SAYS ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS REGIONAL CHIEF

ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS BULLETIN – Update on Compensation for Discriminatory Practices under the First Nations Child and Family Services Program and Denial of Jordan’s Principle

on April 1, 2022

The Assembly of First Nations (AFN), the Government of Canada and other parties signed an Agreement-in-Principle (AIP) on December 31, 2021, in which the federal government committed to compensation for First Nations impacted by the federal government’s discriminatory funding practices under the First Nations Child and Family Services (FNCFS) program and narrow application of Jordan’s Principle. The total proposed settlement package outlined in the AIP has a total value of $20 billion.

The AFN and other parties to the AIP continue to work toward a draft final agreement with negotiations progressing well.  Once a draft final agreement is available, it will be shared with the AFN Executive Committee.

Details on compensation eligibility and the application process will not be available until there is approval by the Federal Court of Canada at the end of 2022.  Compensation is expected to reach First Nations class members at the end of 2022 or early 2023. 

Please visit www.fnchildcompensation.ca for more information and to sign up to receive updates.

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Roy WhiteduckASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS BULLETIN – Update on Compensation for Discriminatory Practices under the First Nations Child and Family Services Program and Denial of Jordan’s Principle

ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS BULLETIN – Quebec Court of Appeal decision on An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families

on March 18, 2022

SUMMARY: 

  • An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families—formerly known as Bill C-92, now “the Act” for short—received Royal Assent on June 21, 2019. The Act came into effect on January 1, 2020 and recognized First Nations own authority in relation to child and family services.
  • The Act affirms that First Nations have an inherent right to self-government, including jurisdiction over child and family services.
  • The provincial government of Quebec challenged the Act in the Quebec Court of Appeal in September 2021, arguing it was unconstitutional for the federal government to disrupt provincial authority over public service.
  • The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) intervened in the Quebec government’s challenge. The AFN and the AFNQL argued that First Nations have always had a right to self-government based on the sovereignty outlined in Section 35.
  • The Quebec Court of Appeal upheld most of the AFN and the AFNQL’s rationale, with the exception of some specific nuances in the Act relating to First Nations laws taking priority over provincial laws.
  • The federal government of Canada has now decided to appeal the decision.

An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families (“the Act”) was formerly known as Bill C-92 when introduced to Parliament on February 28, 2019. Co-drafted by the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), the legislation has three aims:

  • Affirm the inherent right of self-government, which includes jurisdiction in relation to child protection and family law
  • Set out principles applicable, on a national level, to the provision of child and family services in relation to Indigenous children
  • Contribute to the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The Bill received Royal Assent on June 21, 2019, and the Act came into effect on January 1, 2020. It affirmed First Nations’ right to self-government, including the authority to legislate child protection and family laws. The Act also states that First Nations who exercised this authority would have the same level of force as federal law and would prevail in the event of inconsistency or conflict with provincial law.

The Government of Quebec challenged the constitutionality of the Act with a process known as a “reference” in the Quebec Court of Appeal. The Court proceedings took place in September 2021. The provincial government disagreed that the federal government can affirm First Nations’ jurisdiction over child and family services without a supporting treaty, tri-partite self-government agreement, or an amendment to the Constitution.

The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) intervened in the Quebec government’s challenge. The AFN and the AFNQL argued that First Nations have always had an inherent right to self-government.

The Court issued its decision on February 10, 2022. It upheld much of the Act, although it struck two provisions in the legislation. The Court agreed that the right to self-government for First Nations falls within Section 35, including jurisdiction over child and family services. The Court’s reasoning was that child and family services oversight is an Aboriginal right tied to cultural continuity and survival. This right prevails unless there is a compelling public objection.

The Court struck Section 21 from the Act, which provided that First Nation law would have the “force of law as federal law.” This section was stricken because, according to the Quebec Court of Appeal, it altered the structure of the Constitution and was therefore ruled unconstitutional. In short, the Court of Appeal is of the view that First Nations laws are not enactments of federal government and could not be provided with such level of authority.

The Court also struck Section 22.3, which provided that First Nations law would prevail in the event of inconsistency or conflict with provincial law. This section was stricken on the basis that the federal government cannot give absolute priority to First Nations laws over provincial law. The Court of Appeal stated that this the role of the courts.

Overall, the decision recognizes and re-affirms First Nations’ jurisdiction over child protection and family laws based on the inherent right to self-government. However, one negative implication is that the decision undermined sections of the Act that allow First Nations laws to take priority over provincial law in the area of child and family services. In cases where First Nations laws are challenged by other governments, though, the criteria would be very strict to overrule in favour of the province. Where First Nations laws are not in place, provincial laws on child and family services can still apply to those communities.

The Government of Canada has now decided to appeal the decision.

For further information and updates, please follow @AFN_Updates or visit www.afn.ca.

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Sid LeeASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS BULLETIN – Quebec Court of Appeal decision on An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families

Assembly of First Nations Delegation Looking Forward to Meeting with Pope Francis in Rome

on March 18, 2022

(Ottawa, ON) – The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is finalizing details for a meeting with Pope Francis in Vatican City as part of broad efforts to seek justice for genocide in Catholic-run residential institutions, including to seek an apology to be delivered in Canada. A delegation of First Nations survivors and leadership will gather with the head of the Catholic Church March 31, 2022. The gathering will include separate meetings with Inuit and Métis delegates and a cultural presentation.

“Since the beginning, as told in our Creation stories, we are the original nation of families of these lands. It has always been our hope of a good life for our children, grandchildren and the ones who have yet to come that our work is based in. When the European sovereign arrived on our shores, their international laws known as the doctrines of discovery was applied to our lands and denied us our existence as human beings.

We began to experience relentless attempts to destroy our way of life. We were uprooted, displaced and relocated from our home. However, we have never given up our teachings and how we perceive our existence.

Meeting with Pope Francis is an important step as we continue to address the Catholic Church’s culpability about genocide and complicity in what many First Nations children experienced in the institutions. It was responsible for managing, including in many instances, the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual violence inflicted on our children,” said AFN Northwest Territories (NWT) Regional Chief Gerald Antoine, who is leading the AFN delegation to Rome.

“The examples all constitute evidence of the genocidal intent in forcefully removing Indigenous children from their families. Our delegates are messengers for all Survivors when we seek acknowledgement of the truth, an acknowledgement of where the permissions directed the responsibility for the destruction caused against our peoples and children and to rescind the Papal Bulls of 1493.”

The AFN delegation includes Survivors of Residential Institutions of Assimilation and Genocide, two youth representatives and 13 First Nation delegates representing the AFN. The delegates represent Indigenous Peoples from coast to coast to coast. The AFN acknowledges the work and leadership of former NWT Regional Chief Norman Yakeleya for his efforts leading up to this important gathering.

Michelle Schenandoah, a traditional member of the Onʌyota’:aka (Oneida) Nation Wolf Clan of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, and Fred Kelly, a citizen of the Ojibways of Onigaming of the Anishinaabe Nation in Treaty #3 and an Elder in Midewin, the Sacred Law and Medicine Society of the Anishinaabe will accompany the delegation.

The delegation seeks acknowledgement of the claim by the Roman Catholic Church related to the right of domination over everyone and everything and its role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical and sexual violence of First Nations in Catholic-run Residential Institutions to be delivered by the Pope in Canada.

The delegation will call on the Pope as the Head of the Holy See, the Vatican and the Catholic Church to repeal the Papal Bull of 1493 issued by his predecessor Pope Alexander and all other Papal Bulls that enshrined the doctrine of discovery that led to the genocide of Indigenous peoples in all regions of the world.

Please visit www.afn.ca/vatican/ for a full list of AFN delegates.

 

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

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Contact information:

Jamie Monastyrski
Press Secretary
Office of the National Chief
613-612-7229 (mobile)
[email protected]

Andrew St. Germain
Communications Coordinator
Office of the National Chief
416-543-1690 (mobile)
[email protected]

Kelly Reid
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-292-0857 (mobile)
[email protected]

Leanne Goose
Press Secretary
Office of Regional Chief Antoine
587-986-6215 (mobile)
[email protected]

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