News

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Marks International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples and the 10th Anniversary of the UN Declaration

on August 8, 2017

August 8, 2017

(Ottawa, ON): To mark the United Nations International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on August 9, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today expressed his commitment and his solidarity with Indigenous peoples worldwide to realize Indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination and to fully implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“Today, First Nations stand in solidarity with Indigenous peoples everywhere to revitalize and restore our collective rights as peoples and to support one another in that goal,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. “This is a day for all governments to recommit to work with us to fully implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Declaration affirms Indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination and sets out minimum standards for their survival, dignity and well-being. Implementing the UN Declaration will promote peace and help close the gap in the quality of life between First Nations and Canadians. Canada has stated its unqualified support for the UN Declaration and, as we approach the 10th anniversary of its adoption by the UN General Assembly, it is time to work together to give life to the Declaration in Canada and around the world.”

The AFN is mandated to support and advocate for First Nations in international human rights bodies. The AFN recently submitted a report to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination which highlighted key priorities and concerns including:

  • the urgent need for measures to address diverse forms of racial discrimination impacting Indigenous peoples in Canada;
  • co-development by Canada and Indigenous peoples of Indigenous languages legislation to support Indigenous peoples work to revitalize the original languages of this land;
  • co-development of federal legislation to support the full implementation of the UN Declaration, and;
  • investments to ensure all First Nations can access essential government services such as potable water, health, emergency services, education and community infrastructure.

In 1994, the United Nations General Assembly passed resolution 49/214 establishing August 9 as the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. The date marks the first meeting of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations in 1982. The UN Working Group played a critical role in launching the development of the UN Declaration as a joint endeavor of Indigenous peoples in partnership with the member States of the United Nations.

The theme for this year is the 10th Anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted by the UN General Assembly on September 13, 2007. Canada is now part of several consensus resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly respecting the UN Declaration and has expressed unqualified support for its full implementation.

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

 

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For more information, please contact:

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

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

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Roy WhiteduckAFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Marks International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples and the 10th Anniversary of the UN Declaration

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Disappointed with Supreme Court Decision – Time to Implement UN Declaration

on July 26, 2017

July 26, 2017

(Regina SK,) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde responded today to the Supreme Court of Canada decisions today in the Chippewas of the Thames and Clyde River cases dealing with Indigenous peoples right to consultation and accommodation.

“It’s clear today that our right to consultation and accommodation must be respected and upheld. The AFN’s position is that the Crown’s consultation and accommodation obligations must be understood in the context of the standards set by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including the standard of free, prior and informed consent,” said National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “The federal government has endorsed the UN Declaration without qualification in Canada and internationally. Implementation of the Declaration will reduce conflict and court cases and ensure our rights are respected. We supported the Chippewas of the Thames in this action and commend them for taking a strong stand for our rights. We congratulate the Inuit of Clyde River for ensuring Indigenous rights are respected.”

AFN National Chief Bellegarde stood with the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation at the Supreme Court of Canada when their hearing began. The Chippewas of the Thames sought to have the court overturn a permit given to Enbridge Inc. to reverse and expand the flow of the Line 9 pipeline between Sarnia, ON and Montreal, QC. The First Nation insisted it was not meaningfully consulted at any time during the process, a requirement under Canadian law. National Chief Bellegarde was there to support First Nations and First Nations rights, including the right to self-determination.

In its decision today, the Supreme Court said that Enbridge had met its duty to consult the Chippewas of the Thames. However, they also underlined the importance of the right to a duty to consult. They warned the National Energy Board and the energy industry that “any decision affecting Aboriginal or treaty rights made on the basis of inadequate consultation will not be in compliance with the duty to consult.” The decision in Clyde River also dealt with the duty to consult, and the Supreme Court ruled Canada had not fulfilled this duty.

The AFN will be doing a close review and legal analysis of the decision, but it is clear from the Supreme Court’s comments that First Nations’ rights must be respected.

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

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For more information, please contact:

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

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

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

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Roy WhiteduckAFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Disappointed with Supreme Court Decision – Time to Implement UN Declaration

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Announces Major Changes Giving First Nations Greater Financial Control

on July 25, 2017

July 25, 2017

(Regina, SK) – As First Nations leaders, Elders, women and youth from across Canada gathered in Regina, SK today for the opening of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Annual General Assembly, AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde and federal Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, announced First Nations will have more control of financial resources from one year to the next.

“The changes we’re announcing today are important first steps in building stronger First Nations, better communities for our families and a stronger economy for all Canadians,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. “First Nations will soon be able to carry forward funds from year to year, which means they will have more flexibility and independence to plan better and spend better for better results. Second, we are going to work together on a new approach to funding essential services for First Nations – like fire and emergency services, potable drinking water. The current policy is inadequate, outdated and inequitable. Our goal is ensuring First Nations governments can provide these services for their people based on the real needs of our communities and families. The changes we’re announcing today benefit First Nations and all Canadians and show the value of working together to find solutions.”

The announcement was made today at the AFN’s Annual General Assembly in Regina, SK. The changes to the are the result of changes put forward through the Canada-First Nations New Fiscal Relations Working Group, established under the AFN-INAC Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on a new fiscal relationship.

“These new changes simply make sense. These are the first steps in our Fiscal Relations work and I am encouraged that it is already benefitting our people and governments. We have momentum for real progress and change,” said National Chief Bellegarde.

The first change announced today allows First Nations to carry over funding from year to year. Often, First Nations had to return funds not because they weren’t needed but because there was not enough time to spend them properly. The problem is compounded by the fact that First Nations often receive funds late in the fiscal year, increasing the pressure to spend. The change announced today reduces these problems and will also increase the certainty of resources for multi-year programs and projects. This change will take effect in the new fiscal year beginning April 1, 2018.

The second change announced today deals with the federal government’s Operations and Maintenance funding policy. Under the policy, the federal government funds only a portion of the estimated costs of essential government services like emergency services or potable drinking water and First Nations are expected to fund the remaining portion. Many First Nations are already under-funded and cannot cover these costs so these essential services cannot be provided. This can cause critical problems in far too many communities.

The Canada-First Nations New Fiscal Relations Working Group will work on a new approach to ensure all First Nations can provide these services and provide options in a joint report to be presented in December 2017. This is part of the work to identify options and opportunities for new fiscal relations between Canada and First Nations that are appropriate to a government-to-government relationship.

The AFN Annual General Assembly continues in Regina, SK from July 25 – 27 and is being webcast live on the AFN website at www.afn.ca.

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

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For more information, please contact:

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

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

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

read more
Roy WhiteduckAFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Announces Major Changes Giving First Nations Greater Financial Control

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde – Opening Remarks to the AFN Annual General Assembly

on July 25, 2017

July 25, 2017

Tawaw kahkiyaw,

okimâwak, nâpewak, iskwewak, kêhtêak, oskâyak. Okimaw piyisiw awasis nitisihkason. Miyo kisikaw anoch.

My friends and relatives I welcome you all.

I acknowledge the Elders and lift them up for the pipe ceremony this morning and for getting us all connected to the Creator.

I acknowledge that we are in Treaty 4 Territory.

I also acknowledge the drum group for singing our beautiful songs – the Whitefish Juniors. Thank you so much for being here with us.

I acknowledge and thank the work of the Regional Chiefs and Elmer Courchene, Chair of the Elders Council, Chief Denise Stonefish, Chair of the Women’s Council. I want to thank the outgoing Co-Chairs of the Youth Council, Andre Bear and Jennifer Obamsawin, and welcome and congratulate the two newly elected Co-Chairs of the Youth Council – Cheyenne Fineday and Mark Hill, and all of the members of our Assembly of First Nations Councils.

It’s good to be home in Saskatchewan. I grew up on Little Black Bear, about an hour and a half from here, near Fort Qu’Appelle, the lands where the Treaty 4 Chiefs met with the Crown’s representatives. And that land, that sacred site is still there. It’s good to be here with you in Treaty 4 Territory.

Our theme for this Assembly is something that all of us have in our hearts and in our minds everyday – “Our Priority: Our Children, Our Future.” It’s why we do what we do every day.

To make life better for our children. To create a world where there is a better future, one where our human rights, inherent rights, collective rights, our Treaty rights are respected and not something that we have to fight for every day.

Our Annual General Assembly is always a time to look back on progress made, and to talk about the work we still have to do.

I’ve spent a great deal of time over the past few weeks thinking about what I want to say. And it’s been more challenging than usual to put these words together, more challenging to find the right words.

In some ways we have made a great deal of progress over the past year, but it’s also clear, we still have many challenges to face and go through.

I want to talk about the progress we’ve made, and I will do that in a few minutes. But I also

acknowledge that our thoughts are with the many people displaced by the fires in British Columbia. The Ashcroft Indian Band has seen all of their homes burnt.  Governments in Canada, please deal with that new, urgent situation.

And I see those who continue to face challenges while they push for change, like those in Halifax where a group tried to intimidate people while they were in ceremony at a peaceful gathering to oppose the statue of a man linked to the genocide against the Mi’kmaq peoples.

And I want to remember and recognize names we carry in our thoughts as we work together over the next few days, and into the year ahead.

Names of people like Barbara Kentner, the young mother in Thunder Bay struck down while walking with her sister, by someone who threw a trailer hitch in hatred.

Colton Boushie, a young man, just 22, at the start of his adult life, out for a day with his friends who lost his life seeking help for a flat tire. And we all remember how the laying of charges in Colton’s case triggered an ugly online firestorm of racism and hatred.

Another name, Tammy Keeash, who died just weeks ago at 17, in a river in Thunder Bay, something that is happening with frightening regularity in that community where several of our First Nations children have drowned, and their families are still waiting for answers.

The prevalence of racism and violence is very troubling.

On July 12, I walked the streets of Winnipeg’s North End with the Bear Clan Patrol, a group that walks the streets in the evenings in an effort to keep their people and neighbourhood safe.

It’s a sad truth that safety is an issue for our children and families in many places.

So while we are all working to make progress on important issues like clean water, better housing, education and health, Treaty and inherent rights, preserving and revitalizing our languages, and so many other important things, we also need to stop the terrible loss of life.

I have served as a Chief and, like all of you, I know we are elected by our people to stand up for our children’s rights, as well as those of future generations.

Every child has a right to a safe and healthy home and to grow up in a society where they are treated with dignity and respect and have the same opportunities as other children.

And so my first message this morning is for Canada: this has to end. The racism, the discrimination, the poverty. These are not just First Nations problems.

Racism kills.

It is as simple and as tragic as that. This has to end. It’s time for action.

These are Canada’s problems. And we must work together to solve them. We need to build bridges and find solutions.

It’s a very challenging time for all of us as leaders. We are witnessing alarming acts of racism and violence.

And at the same time, we are on cusp of positive change on certain fronts. Commitments to change are important. And we must see these commitments lead to action. And action is the only thing that matters for our people.

In some ways, we are on the right path.

One indication of this is the process we now have in place to sit regularly with members of the federal cabinet, including the Prime Minister, to assess and discuss First Nations’ priorities, and plan a way forward and make the proper investments.

The Assembly of First Nations – Canada Memorandum of Understanding on Joint Priorities I signed with the Prime Minister on June 12 is part of that work. It outlines a commitment for us to engage regularly with the key people who make federal laws and policies, so we can make the changes necessary to respect inherent rights, Aboriginal rights and Treaty rights.

These meetings will be used to identify key issues and find solutions so we can break through the barriers facing our people.

We have also been working hard over the past year to establish a joint process to review federal laws and policies to make sure they uphold and respect First Nations rights. In order to fully realize First Nations Treaty rights and inherent rights, title and jurisdiction – and make no mistake, we will make that happen. Canada’s laws, written over decades to deny us those rights, must be rewritten.

All these laws – C-38, C-45, C-51, C-27 – all of these laws were not written to respect the recognition of rights and title but are based on the termination of rights and title. They have to change. First Nations scholars, Elders, policy experts and our best legal minds must be part of this process.

Our people will write the laws that govern our own Nations, and we must help Canada to revise those laws, policies and procedures that conflict with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and with Canada’s own constitution, including Section 35, which recognizes existing Aboriginal and Treaty rights.

Just over a week ago, Minister Wilson-Raybould released her 10 principles to guide this work and we are doing the assessment and the analysis on this piece. We lift her up for this work, and it is a whole of government approach.  We want to make sure it is done as a respectful joint process together.

In addition to those laws, there has to be a separate and equally important process to change policies that also need to be re-written: the Comprehensive Claims policy, the Specific Claims policy, the Additions to Reserve policy, the Inherent Right to Self-Government policy.

All of these are based on termination of rights and title, not recognition of rights and title. There needs to be a process and a plan for that policy work to happen, and it has to be done together.

This year, another intense effort was made by the Assembly of First Nations ahead of the federal budget. We meet with that Soniyaw Okimaw, the “Big Money Chief” – the Finance Minister. Every year, we advocate for First Nations in those meetings with Finance Minister Bill Morneau. He’s the one responsible for the federal budget, but Minister Morneau also meets with all of the other Cabinet Ministers about their budgets. So we meet with them too.

We meet with Minister Bennett to talk about investments in education, and housing, for clean water and Operations and Maintenance. That’s one department. And then we meet with Minister Philpott, the Minister of Health, and we ask about her priorities: mental health, Non-Insured Health Benefits, medical transportation. Then Minister Hajdu, Employment, Skills Development and Labour for on-reserve daycare and other programs. On policing and emergency services, we meet with Minister Ralph Goodale. Minister Joly on languages.

It’s all about persuading that Big Money Chief who is putting the budget together.

This year, $3.4 billion was allocated for Indigenous peoples’ priorities over five years. That’s in addition to the $8.4 billion budgeted in 2016 to help close the socio-economic gap for First Nations. In total that’s $11.6 billion so far.

Budget commitments are one important measure of progress. But alone, they are not enough.

That’s why the Chiefs Committee on Fiscal Relations has worked so hard over the past year to map out options for First Nations to consider on new fiscal relations with the federal government, working towards long-term sustainable, predictable funding.

It is simply unacceptable that money is delayed well into the year and then clawed back at the end of that fiscal year despite the pressing needs of our peoples. That’s why we’ve pressed for changes to the system to get resources to where they are needed, when they are needed – out to our First Nations.

So I am pleased to announce that there is going to be an announcement this morning with Minister Carolyn Bennett about how things can move from one fiscal year to the next. We’ll have more information for you on that.

We’re also working on the INAC policy on Operations and Maintenance. The federal government funds only a portion of the estimated costs of essential government services like fire and emergency services, water treatment and the provision of clean drinking water, forcing First Nations to find the rest or go without.

It’s an appalling policy with terrible risks associated with it. We know it. INAC knows it. And we now have an agreement to fix it. It’s another important step in the right direction.

We will keep working for our children, families and all our citizens. And I use that term deliberately. We want to re-build our Nations and that means moving away from the colonial concept of “membership” to “citizenship.” Citizenship is another area that has received a lot of our attention in recent months. You’ve heard of the “Descheneaux” case.

In May the Senate Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples heard testimony on Bill S-3, an Act to amend the Indian Act, with the intention of eliminating sex-based inequities in registration (as they call it).

The Assembly of First Nations has made it clear, we support the elimination of all forms of discrimination regarding Indian status and band membership.

Appearing before the Committee, I talked about the need for additional financial resources for us to provide essential services to new Status Indians. More money for the Non-insured Health Benefits program, for the Post-Secondary Student Support Program. But I also spoke of the need for additional reserve lands to account for increases in new citizens.  And I encouraged First Nations’ authority over First Nations’ citizenship and identity.

Citizenship is a key function of governments and of nationhood.

You’ve heard me say it before: we do not need to wait for government action. We can occupy the field. Create your own laws in this area. Exert jurisdiction over citizenship.

The Assembly of First Nations is here to support you. We have produced a template ‘Citizenship Act’ for First Nations governments to use and adapt based on your own needs.

We know that if we stay under the Indian Act for Status, there will be no more Status Indians in 50 years. That’s why we have to move beyond the Indian Act.

Another area where we have been focused is child welfare and family services.

The Assembly of First Nations has funded and provided legal expertise to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal challenge since it began in 2007. Working with the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, we continue to fight to finally bring an end to racial discrimination against our children, and to uphold Jordan’s Principle.

This year we marked the 10th anniversary of that challenge.

In May, the Tribunal found that Canada is taking an overly narrow approach to honouring Jordan’s Principle. They reaffirmed that Jordan’s Principle applies to all First Nations children in need of care, regardless of where they reside, and they set out specific directives and timelines for Canada to comply.

We have been very successful in fighting this case. It is shameful that we had to go to the Tribunal to prove that our children were being discriminated against in the first place.

It is unconscionable and unacceptable that with a Tribunal decision and three compliance orders in our favour, Canada has still not complied. They have dragged their heels on the matter of jurisdiction and failed to recognize First Nations are best placed to know what is needed to ensure our children thrive.

The solution ultimately lies in the reassertion of First Nations jurisdiction over child welfare and our children regardless of where they live.

Now, the United Nations declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Canada expressed its unqualified commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2016. But statements made by the previous government regarding objections to free, prior and informed consent were still on record from 2014.

This May at the United Nations, at our urging, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett put Canada formally on the record as fully committed to the standard of free, prior and informed consent stated in the UN Declaration.

That was a welcome statement. The next step is to work together on a National Action Plan for implementation of the UN Declaration, including jointly developing legislation to support the full implementation of the Declaration.

Another important area is languages. The Assembly of First Nations pressed the Prime Minister and his Cabinet colleagues to act on Assembly of First Nations Resolutions and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action that call for federal legislation to secure funding to revitalize, to protect, to recover, and maintain Indigenous languages. I have always said that our languages should be viewed as Canada’s national treasures.

Last month, I participated in a joint announcement with the Federal Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Honourable Mélanie Joly, on the co-development of an Indigenous Languages Act. We will work together with her Department and we will press for that Legislation to include recognition of the special status of First Nations languages as the original languages of these lands.

There are more than 58 distinct Indigenous languages and none are considered safe.

The recognition, promotion, and recovery of our languages is a vital part of self-determination. It is vital to our Nations’ cultures and central to our songs, our stories, and our ceremonies.

It’s central to our right of self-determination. As Indigenous peoples we have our own lands, our own laws, our own languages, our own peoples and our own identifiable forms of government – five elements that are internationally recognized for the right to self-determination.

Our languages are fundamental to self-determination. So when someone asks “why do we need languages legislation?” We need a law that says statutory funding to revitalize and preserve our languages is a requirement. It cannot be taken away at a whim.

We are working towards having that legislation drafted and introduced in Parliament next year, and passed by Parliament before the next federal election. And we will get it done.

Now, I want to talk about the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

Families who have waited decades are still waiting. We share their concerns.

The Assembly of First Nations has made many offers to support the Inquiry, because the work is so important, and we want to see it succeed for the families. We’ve invited the Commissioners to speak at this Assembly. We are pleased that two of them are able to join us, Michèle Audette and Brian Eyolfson.

We wanted to invite them here because many of you – Women, Chiefs, Elders, and our Young People – are directly affected. Too many of our people have lost loved ones – grandmothers, mothers, Aunties, sisters, cousins, friends. This is not simply a policy matter for us. This is about our families.

We need to support the work of these Commissioners and their staff. We need to pray with them, hold them up, help them. And there is no more powerful way than with prayer and ceremony.

Yes, we want to make sure the families are not forgotten. The families must be front and centre. Yes, we want to help improve communications. And that’s why the Commissioners are here.

The work of the Inquiry is so important. It must succeed. And we will continue to lend our support.

Action – that is our watchword. That is our focus.

On every file that touches the rights or the wellbeing of First Nations – languages, environment, climate change, housing, health care, clean water, education, mental wellness, justice and policing, fire prevention, First Nations rights – action is what we are seeking.

Before I close, I want to return to our theme – “Our priority: Our Children.”

I cannot open this Assembly without talking about the losses we have all grieved, the losses of the young ones who chose to end their lives by their own hand.

We grieve and we are angered when we hear the statistics – that the leading cause of death for a First Nations person under the age of 44 is self-harm. I don’t think there is anyone among us who has totally escaped the shock of loss of a loved one or a friend or relative or someone we’ve known.

We know that solutions must come from within our Nations.

As leaders, we cannot be afraid to talk about what’s happening to our children and among our families. We are all too well aware of the causes.

The intergenerational effects of the Residential Schools system. Colonization and loss of control of our governments and our lives. The lateral violence. The depression. Substance abuse to numb the pain. Loss. Physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Incest.

These are ugly words. But we cannot be afraid to speak them. We cannot be afraid to listen when someone says them.

We must create safe places for those who want to break free of abuse, be that in their schools, in their community, or in their own home.

Our children are paying with their lives for generations of human rights violations, oppression, neglect and abuse, loss of culture, loss of language, loss of hope.

We call on the federal government to work more closely with First Nations and First Nations leadership on First Nations-led solutions – not only for mental health supports but for the infrastructure and community services so that our children and young people live in places that they are proud of and where they can be all who they can be.

As leaders we can bring people together. And we can help to nurture healing for ourselves, for our children and for future generations – getting our young people connected to their languages, our culture and ceremonies, and back to the land.

And to our young people – you matter. You are loved. You are important. You are special. And you have great gifts the Creator has given you.

All young people need hope.  And I witnessed that hope, this past week – last week at the North American Indigenous Games. The energy, the pride, not only showcasing their talents in sports, culture and recreation, but building relationships. More than 5,000 young people showing their pride in who they are as First Nations people.

I hold up the leaders, the organizers, the host Nations, the parents and especially the young people who represented their people with pride, honour and dignity. I acknowledge the territory that won the Games: British Columbia.

This was a display of Indigenous strength and endurance that captivated the continent.

My last points, Chiefs.

Canada did celebrate a birthday a few weeks ago. And we participated as First Nations peoples. Not so much to celebrate the birthday but more to recognize that in spite of the genocide of the residential schools, in spite of the colonization, oppression and control of the Indian Act – we’re still here as First Nations peoples.

And we’re getting stronger.

And in what is now Canada, the best story is yet to be written.  And it’s all of our children and all of our grandchildren who will write the story of the next 150 years.

I look forward to speaking with you during this Assembly.

I value your wisdom and value your guidance.

Kinanāskomitin.

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Roy WhiteduckAssembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde – Opening Remarks to the AFN Annual General Assembly

Assembly of First Nations to Convene 38th Annual General Assembly July 25-27 in Regina, SK – “Our Priority: Our Children, Our Future”

on July 21, 2017

July 21, 2017

(Ottawa, ON)― First Nation leaders, Elders, Women, youth and citizens from across the country are set to gather next week for the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) 38th Annual General Assembly (AGA), to be held at the Evraz Place from July 25-27.  Chiefs and delegates will discuss key issues and determine strategy to advance First Nations priorities based on Treaty rights and inherent rights, title and jurisdiction.

AFN AGA delegates will gather under the theme “Our Priority: Our Children Our Future”, reflecting the reality that the work at the AGA is for the children and future generations based on closing the gap and building stronger First Nations families, communities and governments. Delegates will assess progress over the past year, identify priorities for the coming year and set strategy for action and change.

The AGA Grand Entry will take place Tuesday, July 25 at 8:30 a.m. AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde will deliver his opening address at approximately 9:40 a.m. Tuesday, July 25. The UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Ms. Victoria Tauli Corpuz, will speak on Tuesday, July 25. A number of federal cabinet ministers are scheduled to address the Assembly on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Commissioners from the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls will address the Assembly. Agenda highlights are attached.

A detailed agenda (subject to change) is available on the AFN website at: http://www.afn.ca/uploads/files/17-07-14_afn_38th_aga_-_draft_provisional_agenda.pdf

The main plenary of the AGA will be webcast on the AFN website at www.afn.ca

There is no cost to accredited media to attend and media can register onsite but are encouraged to register in advance through the AFN Communications contacts on this advisory.

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

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Contact information:

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

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

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Roy WhiteduckAssembly of First Nations to Convene 38th Annual General Assembly July 25-27 in Regina, SK – “Our Priority: Our Children, Our Future”

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Congratulates New Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

on July 20, 2017

July 19, 2017

(Ottawa) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde congratulated the new Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Arlen Dumas, on being elected today by the Chiefs of Manitoba in Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation.  

“On behalf of the AFN and my colleagues on the AFN Executive Committee I extend sincere congratulations to Arlen Dumas on assuming the new position as Grand Chief,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. “The Manitoba Chiefs are always doing tremendous work in creating solutions and new strategies for our people. I know that Grand Chief Arlen Dumas will continue this proud tradition. I look forward to his leadership and the contributions he will make to the First Nations people of Manitoba. I also hold up all those individuals who put their names forward in the best interests of standing up and speaking out for all our citizens and for the future of our children.”

“I want to thank former AMC Grand Chief Nepinak for all his work and his strong stand for our rights and our Treaties. I wish him all the best in his future endeavors,” added AFN National Chief Bellegarde.

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

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For more information, please contact:

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

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

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

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jordyAFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Congratulates New Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Statement on Wildfire Situation in British Columbia

on July 20, 2017

July 18, 2017

(Ottawa) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde issued the following statement today on the ongoing wildfires affecting First Nations and many residents in British Columbia. As of July 17, about 40,000 people have been displaced and 20 First Nations in B.C. are affected by the fires. 

“We acknowledge the strength, resilience and in some cases the trauma associated with our families leaving their homes for safety,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “We convey our heartfelt appreciation to the firefighters, first responders, and the countless volunteers and donors that have rallied across Canada to give their support to people in British Columbia.” 

National Chief Bellegarde stated the importance of continuing Indigenous practices of fire control to help prevent fires of the scale seen in B.C., Alberta and California in recent years: “We have heard from our communities in the Okanagan about their history as firekeepers and we must honour these roles and traditions passed down from generation to generation. We commend the leadership demonstrated by First Nations and support provided by the First Nations Health Authority and the First Nations’ Emergency Services Society of BC in this time of great need. Our prayers are for the safety and security of everyone affected by the fires.” 

 

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

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For more information, please contact: 

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

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

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

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jordyAFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Statement on Wildfire Situation in British Columbia

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde Says the AFN Expects Full Inclusion in Intergovernmental Tables

on July 20, 2017

July 17, 2017

(Toronto, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde expressed his strong objection today to attempts to sideline and segregate the AFN from participation in federal-provincial-territorial intergovernmental tables, including the 2017 Council of the Federation meeting scheduled for Edmonton July 18 and 19.

“The AFN represents First Nations governments, the rights holders, and any discussions by provincial, territorial and federal governments can impact First Nations peoples and First Nations rights,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “We are not just another special interest group. An effective process for intergovernmental participation must reflect our status under the Constitution and international law as peoples and nations with inherent rights, title and jurisdiction. First Nations will not accept an exclusionary and disrespectful approach.”

National Chief Perry Bellegarde, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) President Natan Obed and President Clément Chartier of the Métis Nation of Canada (MNC) held a press conference today in a show of unity over their concerns regarding the full and effective participation of Indigenous peoples in intergovernmental forums, including the Council of the Federation meeting taking place July 18 – 19 in Edmonton, AB. The leaders of the three national Indigenous organizations chose not to attend the meeting because of the regressive moves by some members of the Council of the Federation to minimize and marginalize participation of Indigenous leaders.

“The trend should be towards respectful inclusion,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “We know that there are provinces and territories that are eager to engage with First Nations leadership in a meaningful way at intergovernmental tables. The federal government has taken important steps in the direction of more inclusion of First Nations. My preference is to bring all AFN Regional Chiefs to these meetings and we will continue to press for full and meaningful inclusion.” 

In a letter to Yukon Premier Sandy Silver and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley sent on July 12, 2017, National Chief Perry Bellegarde expressed his concerns and proposed that the Council of the Federation invite the sitting AFN National Chief and AFN Executive Committee to the annual meetings. 

The letter states: “There is a need for a fulsome discussion and I propose that this take place on the morning of July 18 during your official meeting. This will provide an opportunity to hear our views on meaningful intergovernmental collaboration and relationship building.” 

Canada’s 13 provincial and territorial leaders are members of the Council of the Federation. Established in 2003, the Council of the Federation enables premiers and territorial leaders to work collaboratively and strengthen the Canadian federation by fostering a constructive relationship among provinces and territories and with the federal government.

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

―30―

For more information, please contact: 

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

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

Alain Garon
Bilingual Communications Officer
Tel: 613.241.6789, Ext. 382
Cell: 613-292-0857
agaron@afn.ca

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jordyAssembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde Says the AFN Expects Full Inclusion in Intergovernmental Tables

MEDIA ADVISORY: National Indigenous Leaders Expect Full Inclusion in Intergovernmental Tables

on July 16, 2017

July 14, 2017

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) President Natan Obed and Métis Nation (MNC) President Clément Chartier will hold a press conference on Indigenous Peoples’ participation in federal-provincial-territorial intergovernmental tables, and the 2017 Council of the Federation meeting scheduled for Edmonton July 18-19.

The Council of the Federation was established in 2003 to enable Premiers to work collaboratively and strengthen the Canadian federation by fostering a constructive relationship among provinces and territories and with the federal government.

DATE:
Monday July 17, 2017

TIME:
11 am (EDT)

LOCATION:
Tudor Room, Fairmont Royal York
100 Front Street West, Toronto, ON

 

For more information, please contact:

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

Patricia D’Souza
Senior Communications Officer
Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami
613-238-8181 ext. 276
613-292-4482  (cell)
dsouza@itk.ca

Dale LeClair
Chief of Staff
Métis National Council
(613)-232-3216 ext.513
(306)203-1169 (cell)
dalel@metisnation.ca

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jordyMEDIA ADVISORY: National Indigenous Leaders Expect Full Inclusion in Intergovernmental Tables

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Says First Nations Must Be Directly Involved in Any Policies or Legislation Affecting First Nations

on July 16, 2017

July 14, 2017

(Ottawa) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde responded to the “Principles Respecting Canada’s Relationship with Indigenous Peoples” released today by the federal Minister of Justice, the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould. 

“We all agree that federal officials are in need of guidance and direction so that federal policy and decision-making is based on recognition of our rights, instead of denial,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “But any statement of policy principles must be developed jointly, consistent with our rights and this government’s commitment to partnership. We will treat these principles as a first effort at dialogue with First Nations.” 

National Chief Bellegarde stated the principles will be reviewed closely by the AFN: “The Crown is obligated to ensure that laws and policies are consistent with our Treaty rights, inherent rights, title and jurisdiction, and standards set out under international law including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  Ultimately, First Nations expect decisions and actions to be taken with us.” 

The AFN is currently undertaking a thorough review and analysis of the principles. 

The Justice Minister will be speaking to delegates at the AFN’s 38th Annual General Assembly in Regina, Saskatchewan July 25 – 27. The Justice Minister is expected to speak in the afternoon of Tuesday, July 25. More information is available on the AFN website at www.afn.ca 

 

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

 

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For more information, please contact: 

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

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

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

read more
jordyAFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Says First Nations Must Be Directly Involved in Any Policies or Legislation Affecting First Nations
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