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AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Welcomes Tabling of Federal Legislation to Revitalize Indigenous Languages, Says the Bill Deserves Support from All Canadians and Parliamentarians

on February 5, 2019

February 5, 2019

Statement from National Chief Perry Bellegarde

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today welcomed the tabling in Parliament of the federal Indigenous Languages Act, saying it deserves the support of all Parliamentarians and all Canadians.

“This is landmark legislation to protect and strengthen Indigenous languages, the original languages of these lands, that embrace our identity, our worldview and our nationhood,” said National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “No Indigenous language in Canada is safe. But now there is hope. This legislation will support First Nations efforts to keep their languages alive, vital and strong. Canadians and all parliamentarians must support this Bill because we all understand that language is identity, languages is culture, language is life. There is no better way to mark 2019 – the International Year of Indigenous Languages – than to see the country that once tried to eliminate our languages enact a law to protect, promote and revitalize our languages.”

The Indigenous Languages Act was tabled today in the House of Commons with the aim of it becoming law before the end of the current Parliamentary session. The initiative to co-develop legislation to “protect, promote and revitalize Indigenous languages” was first announced by Prime Minister Trudeau in December 2016 at an AFN Assembly. The announcement was a response to years of advocacy by the AFN, National Chief Bellegarde and First Nations. The AFN helped co-develop the legislation to ensure that First Nation perspectives, priorities and rights were included in the legislation.

Last week on February 1st, National Chief Bellegarde spoke about the legislation in his remarks to the United Nations General Assembly as the North American Indigenous Representative: “We need legislation to ensure sufficient, sustainable and long-term funding toward the revitalization of our languages. We need schools on-reserve as well as in urban and rural settings to create and implement effective bilingual and immersion education programs beginning with pre-school age children. And we need programs that inspire all of our people to speak our languages, regardless of age, to renew the vibrancy of our communities as our cultural places. We want our languages to be our living languages – sourced from our lands, expressing our creation stories, and alive in our ceremonies and daily lives.”

The text of the National Chief’s remarks at the UN are available on the AFN website at www.afn.ca. The United Nations declared 2019 the International Year of Indigenous Languages to encourage urgent action to preserve, revitalize and promote Indigenous languages.

 

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

 

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For more information, please contact:

Jenna Young Castro
Senior Communications Advisor
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext 201
613-314-8157 (cell)
[email protected]

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

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Roy WhiteduckAFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Welcomes Tabling of Federal Legislation to Revitalize Indigenous Languages, Says the Bill Deserves Support from All Canadians and Parliamentarians

Failed leadership by Thunder Bay Police Board Contributes to Systemic Racism within Thunder Bay Police Service

on December 17, 2018

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde released the below statement in response to the report made public today by Senator Murray Sinclair on the Thunder Bay Police Services Board (TBPSB).

“Senator Sinclair’s report further confirms systemic racism in the Thunder Bay police force and underscores the urgent need for transformative change in policing in Thunder Bay. The Board has failed to recognize and address the violence and systemic racism against Indigenous people in Thunder Bay,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “Today’s report explains, the Board failed in its duty to lead and create engagement that would resolve the issues within the Thunder Bay Police Service. It was clearly the responsibility of the TBPSB to identify critical issues, provide leadership to resolve concerns, and develop and plan concrete action focused on respect and building trust. We need to see police valuing the lives of our people and a refocus toward service, safety and protection. Any effort to implement recommendations and change should be done collaboratively with First Nations experts and rebuilding a relationship that has been strained for far too long.”

Senator Murray Sinclair was appointed by the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) in July 2017 to investigate the Thunder Bay Police Services Board. Among 32 recommendations to address systemic racism, the report calls for the board to be dismantled for one year, with oversight replaced by an administrator. The report comes days after the Office of the Independent Police Review Director confirmed systemic racism within the Thunder Bay Police Services and that city police devalue the lives of First Nation people.

The OCPC investigation was conducted in response to concerns raised by First Nations leaders from Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Grand Council Treaty 3 and the Rainy River First Nation regarding the Thunder Bay Police Services Board’s oversight of police services following a series of deaths and race-based violence against Indigenous peoples in Thunder Bay. The OCPC is an arms-length agency of the Ontario government.

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

For media requests or more information, please contact:

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

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

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Sid LeeFailed leadership by Thunder Bay Police Board Contributes to Systemic Racism within Thunder Bay Police Service

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

on December 14, 2018

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

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

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

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

For media requests or more information, please contact:

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

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

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

AFN National Chief Offers Condolences to Wolf Lake First Nation and the Family of Chief Harry St. Denis on his passing

on November 16, 2018

(Ottawa, ON): It is with great sadness that the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) acknowledges the passing of Chief Harry St. Denis of the Wolf Lake First Nation in Quebec.

“Chief St. Denis was actively engaged in the Assembly of First Nations and was always a major contributor to discussions at AFN Assemblies and meetings. As a long time First Nation leader, Chief St. Denis was a well-known and well respected advocate for the Algonquin Nation and First Nations across the country,” AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde said. “Our hearts go out to the Wolf Lake First Nation and the family of Chief St. Denis in this time of sorrow. As one of the longest serving First Nation Chiefs, he will always be remembered as a leader who worked tirelessly to create a better future for his people and all First Nations.”

Chief St. Denis was devoted to his community and served as Chief from 1986 until his passing. He fought for land rights, forestry protection, and the recognition of First Nation cultures and beliefs. The Wolf Lake First Nation is one of five First Nations in Quebec that do not have reserve lands set aside under the Indian Act for their use and benefit. Chief St. Denis strongly advocated for Canada’s comprehensive claims process to be improved and be more effective.

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

For media requests or more information, please contact:

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

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Sid LeeAFN National Chief Offers Condolences to Wolf Lake First Nation and the Family of Chief Harry St. Denis on his passing

AFN BULLETIN – National Policy Forum on Affirming Rights, Title and Jurisdiction

on September 25, 2018

(Gatineau, QC) National Chief Perry Bellegarde convened a successful Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Policy Forum on Affirming First Nations Rights, Title and Jurisdiction on unceded Algonquin territory in Gatineau, Québec on September 11 and 12. More than 500 First Nation leaders and delegates from across the country gathered to share perspectives on strategic options to advance respect of First Nations rights.

Chiefs-in-Assembly gave direction for education and discussion through Resolution 39/2018, First Nations Determination to the Path to Decolonization. Among other things, this Resolution calls for the halt of the current federal initiative, the Recognition and Implementation of Indigenous Rights Framework. It also calls for the development of a First Nations-led negotiation process to ensure implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and a joint action plan for that implementation.

Delegates at the National Forum were provided an overview on the recent history of First Nations advocacy and lessons learned by First Nations lawyer David Nahwegahbow. International law expert Paul Joffe provided an analysis of the growing significance of international human rights law to advance respect and enforcement of Treaty and inherent rights, title and jurisdiction.

Delegates were also provided an overview of some regional and PTO positions. This included a presentation by lawyer Louise Mandell on work mandated by the First Nations Leadership Council in British Columbia to develop drafting instructions for federal legislation. Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians Deputy Grand Chief Gordon Peters provided a model for Ontario First Nations, and the Yukon distributed a discussion paper presenting issues respecting implementation challenges and comprehensive claims and self-government agreements (section 35 Treaty agreements).

Delegates were provided the opportunity to comment on Canada’s federal engagement process and to directly address Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Carolyn Bennett. Delegates shared their concerns and highlighted the deficiencies in both the approach and execution of the federal process, one that was unilaterally designed and executed by Canada.

Delegates attended breakout sessions by region, then reported back to the plenary and engaged in extensive dialogue in plenary. Discussion revealed that not all regions were given equal opportunity to funds for holding engagement sessions or to gather information on Canada’s proposal.

Canada’s proposal was analyzed on Day 2 of the Forum by Grand Chief Ed John of the Tl’azt’en Nation and Treaty 6 Grand Chief Wilton Littlechild. Plenary discussion showed that despite different views on the best strategic options to advance respect and implementation of First Nations rights, delegates were adamant that any joint initiative involving Canada must be based on an accurate understanding of the scope and content of First Nations rights, section 35 law, Treaties and international law. Canada’s current proposal fails to do so and, as such, more time and work is needed among First Nations to develop a strategy for a path forward.

Any co-development initiative would require federal leadership to correct inaccurate statements and repudiate colonization and doctrines of superiority. A First Nations-led process must contain clear roles and responsibilities for all parties and be grounded in the understanding that Canada and First Nations are equals. Principles of the Two Row Wampum were spoken to by Haudenosaunee delegates and Deputy Grand Chief Peters: the central principle of two canoes travelling down a river together where neither tries to steer the other.

First Nations, with the support of the AFN, are pressing for a reset of the current government process and a shift to a First Nations-led process. Getting it right means First Nations leading and working together and doing so in accordance with First Nations’ laws and customs, protocols and responsibilities. Getting it right means working together in ways that truly affirm and implement First Nations rights, title and jurisdiction. This work must not be rushed.

AFN will be preparing a full report on the Forum for distribution in the coming weeks. Additional forum materials are available at www.afn.ca or by request, including current AFN Resolutions 08/2018, Implementing Canada’s Recognition and Implementation of Indigenous Rights Framework and clarifying the role of AFN, and 39/2018, First Nations Determination to the Path to Decolonization.

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Sid LeeAFN BULLETIN – National Policy Forum on Affirming Rights, Title and Jurisdiction

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde Says First Nations will Drive a Reset of National Dialogue on Rights

on September 13, 2018

(Ottawa, ON):  Following a successful two-day national policy forum, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde stated that AFN will press for a reset of a process launched by the Government of Canada on First Nations’ rights. Delegates at the national policy forum, and an AFN resolution from July 2018, insist that the process and solutions lie in a First Nations led process.

The National Policy Forum on the Affirmation on the Rights was held to support First Nations’ leadership in all territories before Chiefs meet again in Assembly at the AFN Special Chiefs Assembly December 4-6 in Algonquin territory.

“We’ve heard clearly from delegates from many territories that any proposed decision, policy or legislation impacting First Nations’ rights, title and jurisdiction must respect the right to self-determination,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “First Nations must work together in accordance with our protocols and responsibilities to get it right, and getting it right, means our work cannot be rushed. Many First Nations are telling Canada to stop and work together in ways that truly affirms and implements rights, title and jurisdiction, and to commit to a First Nations driven process guided by First Nations’ laws and customs.”

More than 500 First Nations leaders and delegates gathered on Algonquin territory in Gatineau, Quebec September 11 and 12 for a national policy forum on Affirming First Nations Rights, Title and Jurisdiction.  First Nations leaders from across the country discussed the federal government’s proposed approach to rights and reconciliation legislation.

Presentations included an overview of rights recognition and affirmation to date, initiatives, resolutions and current perspectives of First Nations citizens and leaders.

“We all want to move beyond the Indian Act’s control and reconstitute ourselves as Indigenous peoples and Nations with fundamental inherent rights,” said National Chief Bellegarde.  “We are self-determining nations with jurisdiction to take control of where we are and where we need to go as people and as nations.  Out of respect for treaties and the vision of our ancestors, we are willing to work in partnership, but First Nations will not accept a prescriptive and rushed process that doesn’t respect self-determination or the duty to consult. The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples provides a road map to reconciliation. Our leaders have put their hearts and minds together to listen and learn and to dialogue, and I look forward to further discussion and deliberation at our Chiefs Assembly in December.”

Dialogue from the forum will result in a comprehensive report and will help inform deliberations and decision-making by Chiefs at the AFN Special Chiefs Assembly December 4-6 in Algonquin territory at the Westin Hotel in Ottawa.

Current AFN Resolutions 08/2018 Implementing Canada’s Recognition and Implementation of Indigenous Rights Framework and clarifying the role of AFN and 39/2018 First Nations Determination to the Path to Decolonization confirm support for First Nations rights holders to lead the process and direct AFN to call on the Government of Canada to work with First Nations before adopting and implementing any legislative or administrative measures that affect them.

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

For more information, please contact:

Michael Hutchinson
Press Secretary
613-241-6789
613-859-6831
[email protected]

Jenna Young Castro
Communications Officer
613-241-6789, ext. 201
613-314-8157 mobile
[email protected]

 

 

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Angie TurnerAssembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde Says First Nations will Drive a Reset of National Dialogue on Rights

Assembly of First Nations Delivers Strong Statement to UN on Requirement of Free, Prior and Informed Consent

on July 11, 2018

(Ottawa, ON) – On behalf of the Assembly of First Nations, Treaty 6 Grand Chief Wilton Littlechild is participating this week at the meeting of the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples underway in Geneva, Switzerland. The meeting includes focus on an international study on “free, prior and informed consent” as set out in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Grand Chief Littlechild, who is also a former Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, is delivering statements on the requirement of free prior and informed consent on behalf of the AFN and several members of the Coalition for Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“The voices of Indigenous peoples in Canada must inform this international study on free, prior and informed consent, a critical and essential component of international law,” said Grand Chief Wilton Littlechild. “Free, prior and informed consent is an integral aspect and expression of Indigenous peoples’ inherent right of self-determination. It is a standard of rigorous human rights protection made necessary by the entrenched patterns of colonialism, racism and other forms of discrimination that have marginalized and dispossessed Indigenous peoples. The final study by the Expert Mechanism must clearly and explicitly express that it is not enough for states, including Canada, to merely commit to ‘seek the consent’ of Indigenous peoples in an attempt to fulfill the obligation of free, prior and informed consent. Further, whenever free, prior and informed consent applies to the actions of States and other third parties, they must ensure that decisions proceed only if Indigenous peoples give their free, prior and informed consent.”

The AFN is in Geneva this week to contribute to this international study on free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) in international law. FPIC is an international human rights standard that member states of the United Nations must meet prior to any development or decisions that can affect Indigenous peoples’ rights in their territories, their lives and well-being.

The Coalition for Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples brings together Indigenous Nations and organizations, including AFN, as well as experts and human rights organizations in common purpose to advance understanding and full implementation of the UN Declaration and other international human rights standards.

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

For media requests or more information, please contact:

Jenna Young Castro
Communications Officer
613-241-6789, ext. 201
613-314-8157 mobile
[email protected]

Monica Poirier
Bilingual Communications Officer
613-241-6789 ext. 282
613-292-0857 mobile
[email protected]

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Sid LeeAssembly of First Nations Delivers Strong Statement to UN on Requirement of Free, Prior and Informed Consent

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde: Regional Health Survey Results Will Help Identify Ways to Close the Gap for First Nations

on March 16, 2018

March 14, 2018

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde stated that the release of the First Nations Information Governance Centre (FNIGC) Regional Health Survey (RHS) Phase 3, Volume 1 provides valuable information on the health and well-being of First Nations people living on reserve and in northern communities.

“The survey results released today by the FNIGC provides insight on the challenges facing First Nations as well as areas where we’re seeing progress,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. “I am particularly encouraged by some of the positive changes for First Nations youth, including enhanced educational outcomes and evidence of healthy behaviors. We know there is still a lot of work to do. We need to assess the findings to see what is working and where we can make investments that improve the lives of our people and help close the gap in the quality of life between First Nations and Canada.”

Among many other findings, the RHS 3, Volume 1 released today indicates that more youth are abstaining from alcohol and that there is a significant decrease in smoking on a daily basis. The data also shows higher education attainment and employment rates for First Nations adults. The study does show more work is needed to reduce the incidence of chronic conditions such as diabetes, and support is needed for continued healing initiatives to address inter-generational effects of residential schools.

The RHS is the first and only national health survey created, conducted and carried out by First Nations people for First Nations people. The RHS 3, Volume 1 is the most recent phase with data collection beginning in April 2015 and concluding 18 months later with 23,764 completed surveys across 253 First Nations communities. Volume 2 of the RHS 3 is expected to be released in July 2018.

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

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For media requests or more information, please contact:

Jamie Monastyrski
Press Secretary
National Chief’s Office
343-540-6179 (cell)
[email protected]

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

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Roy WhiteduckAFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde: Regional Health Survey Results Will Help Identify Ways to Close the Gap for First Nations

Time to Break the Stigma, End Discrimination that Plagues HIV/AIDS: AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde

on December 1, 2017

December 1, 2017

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde encourages everyone on World AIDS Day to break the cycle of stigma and discrimination and work towards providing a safe, supportive, and healthy environment for our people living with HIV/AIDS.

“World Aids Day kicks off Aboriginal AIDS Awareness Week, a time for First Nations and all people to join together in a unified response to the HIV and AIDS epidemic,” National Chief Bellegarde said. “It’s a time to focus on public health education with the goal of significantly reducing new infections, learning about supports available to people at risk, increasing access to prevention methods, and supporting those living with HIV and Hepatitis C. I acknowledge the resilience of those living with blood borne infections and the people working to support them. Today is a day I urge everyone to get tested.”

Every year, First Nations are overrepresented in the newly diagnosed cases of HIV and Hepatitis C. These health conditions can affect people of all age groups and genders.

World AIDS Day takes place on December 1 each year. It’s an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have passed on from an AIDS-related illness. This year’s theme is Right to Health which is a major part of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

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)
[email protected]

Alain Garon
Bilingual Communications Officer
613-292-0857 (cell)
[email protected]

Michael Hutchinson
Communications Officer
613-299-6330 (cell)
[email protected]

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Roy WhiteduckTime to Break the Stigma, End Discrimination that Plagues HIV/AIDS: AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde to Advise on NAFTA Negotiations to Ensure a Strong Voice for First Nations

on August 3, 2017

August 2, 2017

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde will participate on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Council to ensure a strong voice for First Nations rights, title, and jurisdiction during the upcoming international negotiations to “modernize” the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“I will participate to represent First Nations interests,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. “This is the first time an AFN National Chief has been asked by Canada to participate in international trade agreements. It is essential that we be heard and represented. Any agreement must recognize our rights, title, and jurisdiction. Our involvement will ensure any outcomes are best for First Nations and best for the entire country.”

The NAFTA Council announced today is to advise Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland directly throughout the NAFTA negotiations. National Chief Bellegarde was approached to participate last week and in a letter sent to Minister Freeland August 1, 2017, expressed interest on the condition that his participation is in no way construed as diminishing the international, constitutional and other responsibilities of the Crown in relation to First Nations.

The Council’s first meeting will likely take place sometime in August and there will be opportunities to provide advice before and after each round of negotiations. Canada, Mexico and the USA will each host a round before the end of the year, with negotiations expected to go on into 2019.

AFN Resolution #36 /2017, First Nations Trade Relations, passed at the AFN’s Annual General Assembly last week, directs the AFN to advocate for First Nations participation in trade initiatives and existing trade mechanisms on the basis of the recognition of First Nations inherent and Treaty rights affirmed and protected under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, international law and First Nations inherent right to trade with, and between, nations in North America and globally.

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)
[email protected]

Alain Garon
Bilingual Communications Officer
613-241-6789 ext. 382
613-292-0857 (cell)
[email protected]

Michael Hutchinson
Communications Officer
613-241-6789 ext. 254
613-299-6330 (cell)
[email protected]

read more
Roy WhiteduckAFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde to Advise on NAFTA Negotiations to Ensure a Strong Voice for First Nations
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