News

National Chief welcomes federal investment in Indigenous Covid-19 response

on January 13, 2021

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde welcomes today’s announcement by Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller to invest in Indigenous communities to better respond to COVID-19. The investment comes after a January 7 letter from National Chief Bellegarde to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urging the government to take action to address the growing rate of COVID-19 infections among First Nation people across the country.

“Keeping our people and nations safe remains top priority, particularly at a time when infection rates are rising and risk getting completely out of control,” said National Chief Bellegarde, adding that First Nations are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and require resources to meet needs exacerbated by remoteness, crowded homes and lack of clean water. “I lift up First Nations leadership across the country for speaking up. Our voices have been heard.  We will save lives.”

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller today announced $1.2 Billion, which includes support for public health, further investments in the Indigenous Community Support Fund and Supportive Care for long-term care and Elder care facilities.

“It’s essential we work together and that the approach is coordinated, with First Nations taking the lead,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “I am encouraged by Minister Miller’s commitment to First Nations having flexibility to respond to needs and will continue to press provincial and territorial governments to support and work together with First Nations as we respond to this crisis. This includes access to mental health supports for our front-line workers and community members.”

National Chief Bellegarde made it clear this week he will be getting his COVID-19 vaccine when his turn comes.

“Just like wearing a mask, getting the vaccine is about keeping you and those around you safe,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “If you don’t plan to do it for yourself, please consider doing it for your family, friends and community. Together we’ll conquer COVID-19.”

 

For more details on today’s funding announcement, read this press release from the Indigenous Services Canada website.

 

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

 

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For more information please contact:
Karen Joyner
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-292-0857 (cell)
[email protected]

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Roy WhiteduckNational Chief welcomes federal investment in Indigenous Covid-19 response

National Chief Pleased With Thunder Bay Verdict Ruling Brayden Bushby Guilty of Manslaughter

on December 14, 2020

(Ottawa, ON) – National Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations said today’s verdict in the trailer hitch manslaughter case is a welcome surprise.  

“This is a significant verdict for First Nations and a wonderful day for Canadian justice,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “First Nations have faced an uphill battle to receive fairness in the judicial system. Perhaps today’s decision demonstrates that courts in this country will begin treating crimes against First Nations (among Black, Indigenous and people of colour) the same as they do attacks on non-Indigenous Canadians. This seems to be a major step in the right direction, but we must remain vigilant if we are to root out institutional racism in our justice system.”

This afternoon, Justice Helen Pierce of the Thunder Bay court ruled Bushby guilty of manslaughter and aggravated assault, which he plead guilty of prior to today’s verdict. Bushby threw a trailer hitch from a moving vehicle, hitting Barbara Kentner in the abdomen. Kentner, 34 at the time, from Wabigoon Lake Ojibway Nation, later died of internal injuries. Bushby’s lawyers claimed the injuries were unrelated to the assault. Bushby, who was 18 and drunk at the time of the incident, admitted to having thrown the hitch. 

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

For more information please contact:
Karen Joyner
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-292-0857 (cell)
[email protected]

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Celso CercadoNational Chief Pleased With Thunder Bay Verdict Ruling Brayden Bushby Guilty of Manslaughter

First Nations leaders and delegates to gather virtually Tuesday and Wednesday for the 41st AFN Annual General Assembly

on December 7, 2020

(Ottawa, ON) – For the first time, hundreds of First Nations Chiefs, leaders, Elders and youth are gathering virtually on December 8-9, 2020 for the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Annual General Assembly (AGA). This year’s theme, “All Our Relations: Emerging Stronger Together”, sets the tone as COVID-19 leads First Nations through a challenging, unprecedented year.

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde will deliver his opening address on December 8, at approximately 11:00 a.m. (EST). The AGA will feature discussion and decision-making on key priorities for First Nations, such as COVID-19, the UN Declaration, systemic racism, infrastructure, among other topics.

In addition, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will address Chiefs across Canada at the event on December 9, at 4:15 p.m. (EST).

On the evening of December 8, starting at 7:00 p.m. (EST), delegates will hear from federal representatives including:

  • Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
  • David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
  • Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services
  • Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage
  • Bill Blair, Minister of Public Safety

To see the provisional agenda, and find updates and information on the 2020 AGA, please visit the AGA website: https://www.afn.ca/2020-annual-general-assembly.
Media accreditation is required. We encourage media to register through Angie Turner at [email protected].

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

For more information please contact:
Karen Joyner
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-292-0857 (cell)
[email protected]

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Sid LeeFirst Nations leaders and delegates to gather virtually Tuesday and Wednesday for the 41st AFN Annual General Assembly

National Chief Bulletin: Update on Federal Bill to advance implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

on December 3, 2020

SUMMARY:

  • Since my last Bulletin, Minister of Justice David Lametti tabled Bill C-15, United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act on December 3rd, 2020.
  • This proposed legislation is the culmination of generations of advocacy by First Nations nationally and internationally. Chiefs-in-Assembly have repeatedly called for implementation legislation for the Declaration since it was adopted by the UN General Assembly 13 years ago. Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Resolution 86/2019 Support for Federal Legislation to Create a Framework to Implement the UN Declaration called for the introduction of federal legislation by the end of 2020. The federal government responded with a commitment to do so, in the Speech from the Throne in 2019 and 2020.
  • Preliminary legal analysis indicates that Bill C-15 contains key elements that Chiefs-in-Assembly mandated the AFN to work toward. It is consistent with former Private Member’s Bill C-262 as ‘the floor’ and contains several enhancements. It contains strong language affirming our inherent right to self-determination, highlights the urgent need to respect and promote our rights affirmed in Treaties and commits the Government of Canada to an action plan that includes measures to combat and eliminate all forms of violence and discrimination, including systemic discrimination.
  • I invite all Chiefs, Proxies and First Nations to attend the forthcoming AFN Virtual Annual General Assembly on December 8-9 (Registration) where this critical legislation will be discussed. The Prime Minister and Minister of Justice will attend on December 8th. On December 9th, a plenary panel will present on this development and provide legal analysis.
  • AFN legal team member Mary-Ellen Turpel Lafond has prepared a preliminary comparison table of federal Bill C-15 as compared to Bill C-262 that is attached to this bulletin for your review.

BACKGROUND:

  • In 2007, following more than 25 years of global advocacy by First Nations and other Indigenous peoples, the UN Declaration was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Since then, the UNGA has reaffirmed the Declaration several times. Canada is part of numerous consensus resolutions of the UN calling on states to work with Indigenous peoples to develop national action plans and other measures to support implementation, including legislation such as that tabled today.
  • In 2018, Bill C-262 was passed by the House of Commons. Subsequently however, it failed to pass in the Senate of Canada due to a filibuster by a small minority of Senators, preventing it from moving to third reading and passage.
  • Following this, Chiefs-in-Assembly passed Resolution 86/2019. This Resolution called for; a collaborative process to introduce legislation to implement the Declaration as government legislation by the end of 2020; and to ensure such legislation fully respects the Declaration; and establishes the content of Bill C-262 as the floor rather than the ceiling.
  • AFN Executive Committee Motion 2019-12 called for the creation of a Legal Team to engage with the Department of Justice (DoJ) on the federal UN Declaration legislation initiative. This team was led by legal experts, Chief Wilton Littlechild, Mary-Ellen Turpel-Lafond and Paul Joffe.
  • The Speech from the Throne in 2020 committed the government to introduce legislation to implement the UN Declaration by the end of 2020. Canada publicly accepted the content of Bill C-262 as the floor for any government bill and reflected that in a consultative draft. The federal government indicated that the purpose of its engagement was to enhance or strengthen the consultative draft through input from Indigenous peoples.
  • From the end of September into November 2020, DoJ received input, and engaged in dialogue on potential enhancements to the consultative draft from First Nations Rights holders, First Nations Provincial/Territorial organizations and National Indigenous Organizations.
  • The AFN Legal Team focused on ensuring that DoJ was fully cognizant of the status of international law affirming the inherent rights of First Nations under the UN Declaration; as well as the broader body of international law. This includes binding international Treaties affirming the equal right of all peoples to self-determination.
  • The AFN Legal Team engaged in dialogue with DoJ officials to address misinformation and unfounded fears raised by opponents of First Nations rights, as well as speaking to legal issues such as the relationship between the rights of Indigenous peoples under international law and the Constitution of Canada.
  • The AFN Legal Team also identified opportunities to strengthen DoJ’s consultative draft to reflect key developments in international law that uphold and respect First Nations Treaty and inherent rights, title, and jurisdiction.
  • The Crown carries the responsibility to engage with First Nations directly and the AFN is not a replacement for nation-to-nation dialogue to meet Crown legal obligations

CURRENT STATUS:

  • The Minister of Justice introduced Bill C-15 for First Reading today (December 3, 2020).
  • Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has prepared the attached Comparison Table of Federal Bill C-15 and Bill C-262 with Commentary to assist you in your own review.

NEXT STEPS:

  • The AFN will analyze Bill C-15’s content against Chiefs-in-Assembly Resolutions and will share updates with First Nations.
  • Bill C-15 would need to be advanced to second reading and referral to a Parliamentary Committee for study.

ATTACHMENTS:

  1. Comparison Table of Federal Bill C-15 and Bill C-262 with Commentary (Française to follow)
  2. Bill C-15 (English-Française)

 

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Angie TurnerNational Chief Bulletin: Update on Federal Bill to advance implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Federal bill to implement un declaration “a positive step toward healing the wounds of racism and injustice” says National Chief Perry Bellegarde

on December 3, 2020

(Ottawa, ON) – National Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) welcomed the tabling of a federal bill to advance implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“The bill tabled today contains key elements that the Assembly of First Nations has long sought to ensure that Canada meets its obligations to respect and implement the UN Declaration,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “The UN Declaration is a crucial tool for addressing systemic racism and closing the gap in quality of life between First Nations and Canadians. The new bill provides a much-needed framework to put the Declaration into practice.”

The proposed legislation would require the federal government to work collaboratively with Indigenous peoples to develop a National Action Plan to implement the Declaration, including measures to address prejudice and eliminate all forms of violence and discrimination against Indigenous peoples. The legislation calls for a process to identify laws that need to be reformed in order to meet Canada’s international human rights obligations. The bill would also require regular reporting on the progress made.

In addition, the Bill affirms the fact that the UN Declaration already has legal effect in Canada: it is increasingly being used by courts and tribunals to interpret federal and provincial laws. The preamble to the Bill condemns all racist and colonial doctrines and beliefs.

“Passing federal implementation legislation will be a positive step toward healing the wounds of racism and injustice,” said National Chief Bellegarde.

In its provisions, the new bill is closely modelled on Bill C-262, a private Member’s bill that was passed by the House of Commons in 2018.  When Bill C-262 was blocked in the Senate, AFN Chiefs passed a resolution calling for federal legislation that “fully respects the intent of the Declaration, and establishes Bill C- 262 as the floor, rather than the ceiling.”

National Chief Bellegarde said, “The AFN has been given a clear mandate from our Chiefs to advocate for federal legislation that builds on the foundations of Bill C-262 and is every bit as strong as Bill C-262 in its respect for our rights. The bill tabled today meets that test.”

The implementation bill will be closely examined during the upcoming AFN Annual Chiefs Assembly.

The AFN is urging all Parliamentarians to support adoption of a strong implementation framework before the close of this session of Parliament.

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

For more information please contact:
Karen Joyner
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-292-0857 (cell)
[email protected]

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Celso CercadoFederal bill to implement un declaration “a positive step toward healing the wounds of racism and injustice” says National Chief Perry Bellegarde

AFN National Chief Bellegarde discouraged by Canada’s Announcement that clean water targets will be missed

on December 2, 2020

(Ottawa, ON) – AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde says First Nations are frustrated, yet not surprised, by today’s announcement from Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller, confirming that Canada will not be able to lift all First Nations long-term drinking water advisories by its target deadline of March 2021.

“First Nations have good reason to be disappointed by the federal government’s announcement that after more than five years in office, it will miss its own target to provide safe drinking water to all Indigenous communities across Canada. While there has been significant progress in recent years, it clearly is not enough,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “I welcome today’s announcement by Minister Miller of $1.5 billion to continue to close the infrastructure gap faced by many First Nations, and I remain hopeful it will be followed up with concerted efforts in the coming months to fix the drinking water situation across Canada once and for all.”

At last week’s AFN Water Summit, ISC indicated there were still 59 long-term drinking water advisories in effect, with the majority (75%) located in Ontario. Many of these advisories were flagged as off-track or behind schedule by First Nations and regional organizations prior to the pandemic. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of clean water for health and hygiene, while fighting COVID-19.

“I’m very disappointed, but not surprised, to hear that the previous commitment to end all BWAs by March 2021 will not be met,” said Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald, who oversees the AFN’s Water portfolio.  “While I welcome Minister Miller’s announcement for Operations and Maintenance funding, as this is only one of the reasons that Boil Water Advisories continue in First Nations, increased and sustained funding for modern and reliable infrastructure will remain a key solution. I have asked the minister to work with First Nations to identify the barriers that have resulted in Ontario having the highest number of BWAs remaining in Canada. We want to ensure that this basic human right is met for Ontario First Nations.”

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

For more information please contact:

Karen Joyner
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-292-0857 (cell)
[email protected]

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Celso CercadoAFN National Chief Bellegarde discouraged by Canada’s Announcement that clean water targets will be missed

The Assembly of First Nations Knowledge Keepers Council supports the rights of Mi’kmaq people to assert their Treaty Right to Fish within their Territory

on December 1, 2020

October 22, 2020

The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Knowledge Keepers are sending their support to the Mi’kmaq people who are exercising their right to fish and earn a modest living as supported by the Peace and Friendship Treaties from 1752 and 176061, the Royal Proclamation of 1763, s.35 of Canada’s Constitution, and by the 1999 Supreme Court of Canada Decision in R. vs. Marshall.

The current challenges they are facing from the local communities and the surrounding non-Native fishers shows not only a lack of understanding of Treaty rights, but that the escalating violence is racially motivated. The acts of these non-Native fishers to intimidate and deny access to the Mi’kmaq fishers is fundamentally wrong and must be stopped.

The acts of protest and intimidation against the Mi’kmaq men and women are clearly based on racial discrimination. Fishing has always been a way of life, a part of the Mi’kmaq people’s culture, identity and economy, and has been for generations. To call such attention and enact such violence to this practice now is shameful and ignorant.

The Mi’kmaq are simply asking Canada to honour their inherent and Treaty rights and the decisions of Canada’s own courts to continue with their right to Fish. Why are they being denied? This right has all been clearly outlined and confirmed by the 1999 Marshall decision by the Supreme Court of Canada. It should not be questioned. The Canadian government has a duty to act in support of the fishers.

Why are the Mi’kmaq being deprived of the opportunity to exercise their rights? This issue must be addressed immediately to ensure that First Nations people have the means to provide for their families and continue the fall lobster harvest.

The Fishermen and women fish with their families. The violence that the demonstrators are enacting against the Mi’kmaq is nothing short of assault and must be treated as such. They have destroyed Mi’kmaq traps and boats; this cannot be tolerated. The verbal intimidations and violent activities are clearly racially motivated. These actions are disgraceful and must be stopped immediately.

The Treaties must be respected. At present, the Mi’kmaq People are not safe in their own homes and on their own territory. Law enforcement needs to be proactive in protecting everyone and not just those who they deem deserving of protection. People are in danger. Why is Canada looking the other way and not stopping these acts of violence? The lack of response from the RCMP is very telling.

We will continue to support the Mi’kmaq until the proper action is taken to ensure the safety of their people and their Treaty rights. We demand that the federal government uphold and honour all Treaty relationships with First Nations in Canada. Know that the eyes of all Indigenous peoples are on you, Canada.

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Sid LeeThe Assembly of First Nations Knowledge Keepers Council supports the rights of Mi’kmaq people to assert their Treaty Right to Fish within their Territory

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde says Canada’s fall economic statement is a strong plan for post-pandemic recovery

on November 30, 2020

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde released this statement today following the release of the Government of Canada’s Fall Economic Statement by Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland:

“Canada’s Fall Economic Statement signals a strong plan for post-pandemic recovery and increased supports for First Nations. Today’s fiscal outlook shows that while we still have a long path to a full recovery, Deputy Prime Minister Freeland has taken important economic decisions to ensure that the lives of First Nations are not going to be impacted long-term.”

“The significant investment in implementing the Calls to Justice from the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and girls are the highlight for First Nations. The steps on infrastructure will help with the economic recovery for First Nations across the country and ensure that we move closer towards closing the infrastructure gap.

I’m also excited to see the construction of a mercury treatment centre for Asubpeeschoseewagong and Wabaseemoong First Nations, which is essential to addressing the crisis brought on from mercury poisoning in those communities. I look forward to further investments in First Nations’ priorities in the 2020/21 federal budget.”

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

For more information please contact:

Karen Joyner
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-292-0857 (cell)
[email protected]

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Sid LeeAFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde says Canada’s fall economic statement is a strong plan for post-pandemic recovery

National Chief Bulletin – Update on federal engagement for a Bill to advance implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

on November 16, 2020

SUMMARY

  • In early October, the federal Department of Justice (DoJ) initiated an engagement process respecting a proposed federal Bill to advance implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration).
  • The focus of federal engagement with First Nations has been on a draft bill closely based on former private member’s Bill C-262 (United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act), with a few technical amendments. (See Attachments 1-English and 2-French)
  • On September 23, 2020 a briefing package was provided to the AFN Executive flagging that the launch of federal engagement with First Nations organizations was imminent. The federal engagement process has been extended into November.
  • On November 12, 2020, DoJ hosted an ‘Ad Hoc Table of Federal-Provincial-Territorial Ministers and Indigenous Leaders on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples’. I attended this meeting, along with several First Nations leaders, federal-provincial-territorial representatives and the national leadership of ITK and MNC.
  • DoJ’s consultative draft bill may be amended following conclusion of the engagement process in preparation for tabling a Bill before the end of 2020.

 

BACKGROUND:

  • In 2007, following more than 25 years of global advocacy by First Nations and other Indigenous peoples, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (the Declaration) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Since then, the UNGA has reaffirmed the Declaration at least eleven times.
  • Chiefs-in-Assembly ratified the Declaration by Resolution 37/2007; committed to its full implementation; welcomed the support of the Liberal Party of Canada, the New Democratic Party and the Bloc Quebecois and demanded that the Government of Canada commit to implement the Declaration in full cooperation with Indigenous peoples.
  • In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC), issued its final report and called on federal, provincial and municipal governments to adopt and implement the Declaration. By Resolution, Chiefs-in-Assembly supported the full implementation of all the TRC Calls to Action.
  • In 2017, Chiefs-in-Assembly passed Resolution 97-2017 calling on all federal parliamentarians to support Bill C-262 (United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act). This Bill was sponsored by then NDP MP, Romeo Saganash.
  • In its final report, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls called for the full implementation of the Declaration and passage of legislation like Bill C-262.
  • In 2018, Bill C-262 was passed by the House of Commons. However, in June of that year, it failed to pass in the Senate of Canada. This was due to a Conservative filibuster preventing it from moving to third reading and passage.
  • Following this, Chiefs-in-Assembly passed Resolution 86/2019 (Federal Legislation to create a Framework for Implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples). This resolution calls for: 1) a collaborative process to introduce legislation to implement the Declaration as government legislation by the end of 2020; 2) ensuring such legislation fully respects the Declaration; and 3) establishes the content of Bill C-262 as the floor rather than the ceiling.
  • In 2019, First Nations in B.C. and the Government of British Columbia worked together to see Bill 41, Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act passed unanimously.
  • In both the 2019, and the 2020, Speech from the Throne, the Liberal government committed to introduce federal legislation by the end of 2020. It has also publicly committed on several occasions to ensuring that a government bill will be at least as strong as Bill C-262 (Bill C-262 must be “the floor” of any government bill.
  • AFN Executive Committee Motion 2019-12 called for the creation of a Legal Team to engage with the DoJ on the federal UN Declaration Legislation initiative. The AFN Legal Team has engaged with DoJ lawyers under Non-Disclosure Agreements and Confidentiality Undertakings.
  • As National Chief, I have advocated for introduction of a Bill at least as strong as former Private Member’s Bill C-262 and the passage of such a Bill to Royal Assent as quickly as possible.

 

CURRENT STATUS:

  • Towards, implementing Resolution 86-2019, I have secured the support of the federal Liberal Party, the NDP, the Bloc Quebecois and the Green Party for the objective stated in AFN Resolution 86-2019 – a government bill that is at least as strong as Bill C-262 and tabled before the end of 2020.
  • In late September 2020, the DoJ launched an engagement process primarily focused on Indigenous peoples. The focus of engagement with First Nations has been on a federal consultative draft (Attachments 1-English and 2-French) reflecting the content of former private member’s Bill C-262. There are a few technical amendments. DoJ has confirmed that the purpose of the federal engagement with First Nations is to consider enhancements to strengthen the content which follows closely that of Bill C-262.
  • DoJ has engaged with provinces/territories and held roundtables with some industry stakeholders, to raise awareness and education on the Declaration and its implementation.
  • On November 12, 2020, the federal government held a federal-provincial-territorial ministerial level meeting with national and First Nations leadership as an opportunity to share perspectives on this initiative. This meeting allowed a frank exchange of views but did not involve any negotiations.
  • The AFN regularly requests that the DoJ proactively provide information on their engagement process. There have been some challenges in receiving information in a timely manner. Information on engagements held to date are attached in Attachment 3.
  • The AFN has been involved in the engagement process as a national organization. AFN lawyers have engaged with DoJ and CIRNA officials to ensure they understand technical aspects of the Declaration and its current legal effect; and to suggest options for enhancing the consultative draft. The AFN has told the federal government to keep its focus on engagement with First Nations in accordance with the Declaration, rather than provinces, territories or industry. The federal government has indicated that the purpose of its engagement is to enhance or strengthen the consultative draft through input from Indigenous peoples.
  • Additional background about this initiative is available on the AFN Website at https://www.afn.ca/policy-sectors/implementing-the-united-nations-declaration-on-the-rights-of-indigenous-peoples/

 

NEXT STEPS:

  • In response to First Nations advocacy, the federal government has repeatedly affirmed a commitment to table a government bill by the end of 2020, that is at least as strong as former Bill C-262.
  • DoJ’s consultative draft may change following conclusion of the engagement process in preparation for tabling a Bill before the end of 2020.
  • Once a Bill is tabled, the AFN will analyze its content measured against Chiefs-in-Assembly Resolutions and will share updates with First Nations.
  • Once in Parliament, it would be referred to a Parliamentary Committee for study.
  • There would be several challenges ahead:
  • The Official Opposition (the Conservative Party of Canada) is likely not to be supportive of the legislation. As it has been the only federal party opposed. The Conservatives and again may resort to filibuster techniques as they did with Bill C-262
  • The federal Parliamentary process is still hampered somewhat by COVID-19 restrictions and therefore, is slower
  • Some Provinces will likely continue to try to influence the federal government to weaken the language of a Bill
  • Time – the ever-shortening Parliamentary window to get a Bill tabled, then passed by the House of Commons and the Senate before June 2021 (if the minority Liberal government survives that long).

 

ATTACHMENTS:

1) Federal Consultative Draft-English
2) Federal Consultative Draft-French
3) UN Declaration Regional Engagement Meetings To-Date
4) National Chief Statement at Ad Hoc Table of FPTI Leaders on the UN Declaration
on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

5) DoJ Final Engagement Deck-English
6) DoJ Final Engagement Deck-French

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Celso CercadoNational Chief Bulletin – Update on federal engagement for a Bill to advance implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

AFN National Chief Bellegarde welcomes emergency COVID funding for First Nations Early Learning and Child Care

on October 30, 2020

(Ottawa, ON) – National Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) welcomes Canada’s announcement of emergency funding for Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. Today’s announcement committed to investing approximately $70 million over the 2020-21 fiscal year to support First Nations ELCC providers to safely reopen and deliver programs and services for First Nations children and families during the pandemic.

“Today’s announcement acknowledges the important role that First Nations early learning and child care programs play in developing happy and healthy First Nations children. The pandemic has exacerbated systemic disadvantages for First Nations, making these programs that support our children’s wellbeing more important than ever. COVID-19 has complicated how programs are delivered, but the safety of the providers and participants has continued to be a top priority,” National Chief Bellegarde said. “This funding will help First Nations early learning and child care service providers adjust to the realities of COVID-19 and continue to deliver these important programs in a safe way.”

Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin Hart holds the Social Development portfolio at the AFN and says that the funding not only will help First Nations ELCC programs reopen safely when they are ready, but also recognizes the work they have done throughout the pandemic.

“We want to lift up the staff and management at our First Nations early learning and child care programs. They have done amazing work supporting our children and families during the pandemic,” Regional Chief Hart said. “This investment is a good first step to ensure that this work is recognized and can operate safely as many of our communities move into the second wave of this pandemic. I will continue to monitor the situation and advocate for more investments where they are needed to ensure the continued safety of our children and families.”

This investment comes in addition to the September 2020 Throne Speech, in which the federal government committed to creating a Canada-wide early learning and child care system.

“I will continue to speak up for the needs of First Nations children, families and early learning and child care providers, particularly as Canada moves to create a national early learning and child care system,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “We must ensure that First Nations are properly supported in a new national system for early learning and child care, and further that the distinct needs and priorities of First Nations are respected in this, which is especially important in the context of COVID-19.”

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

For more information please contact:

Michael Hutchinson
Interim Communications Director
Assembly of First Nations
613-859-6831 (cell)
[email protected]

Karen Joyner
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-292-0857 (cell)
[email protected]

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Celso CercadoAFN National Chief Bellegarde welcomes emergency COVID funding for First Nations Early Learning and Child Care