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AFN National Chief Bellegarde Says Newly Passed Legislation will Help Build Stronger and Healthier First Nations

on June 20, 2019

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today welcomes the passing of two new pieces of federal legislation passed in the House of Commons today. The Indigenous Languages Act, Bill C-91 and An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families, Bill C-92 are expected to receive Royal Assent in the Senate tomorrow, on National Indigenous Peoples Day.

“Today we have made history and arrive at a turning point in our work to reclaim, revitalize, maintain and strengthen our languages,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “Language is life and central to our identities and cultures. We know that when states uphold Indigenous languages their likelihood of survival increases. This is why we pushed for The Indigenous Languages Act, and it’s why I’m so proud we now have the federal government’s full support for this work. Today we celebrate the work of our language champions who worked with Canada to create this legislation that will help ensure our children grow strong in their language and stronger in life, confident and proud in their identities and connected to their nations. This is an example of reconciliation in action and a meaningful way to mark 2019, the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages.”

On February 5, 2019, Bill C-91, an Act respecting Indigenous languages, was tabled in the House of Commons with the objective to protect, promote, revitalize and strengthen Indigenous languages in Canada. The initiative to co-develop legislation with the AFN and other national Indigenous organizations was announced by Prime Minister Trudeau at an AFN Assembly in December 2016.

Bill C-92, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families, was introduced in the House of Commons in February 2019. It was developed with direction from AFN Chiefs-in-Assembly and input by the AFN legislative working group which is comprised of technicians and experts from across the country drawing on years of advocacy and direction.

“Bill C-92 puts First Nations children first and is a major step in the right direction to address decades of failures that resulted in far too many of our children being torn from their families,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “The goal with this legislation is to apply laws, policies and values to systems designed and implemented by First Nations for First Nations with the focus on providing every opportunity for our children to grow up feeling valued and connected to their families, cultures and nations. No one piece of legislation will fix the drastic and long-lasting impacts of a broken system, but with First Nations jurisdiction paramount we have a solid base for change. I urge all provinces and territories to work directly with First Nations on the implementation of this legislation.”

The Act to Respect First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families affirms First Nations jurisdiction and creates space for First Nations laws and practices regarding their families. It respects rights in the context of implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which is the minimum international standard for the survival and dignity of Indigenous peoples. It sets out key principles that will prevent children from being removed from their homes unnecessarily, promotes children staying in their communities and nations and ensures the best interests of the child principle is understood and applied with a First Nations lens for our children and families.

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

For media requests or more information, please contact:

Jenna Young Castro
Senior Communications Advisor
Assembly of First Nations
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 LeeAFN National Chief Bellegarde Says Newly Passed Legislation will Help Build Stronger and Healthier First Nations

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Says Involvement of First Nations in Columbia River Treaty Negotiations is the Right Move That Will Lead to Better Outcomes

on May 2, 2019

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde welcomes a decision by the federal government to officially involve First Nations in the negotiations currently underway with the United States to modernize the Columbia River Treaty.

“The decision to include the Ktunaxa Nation, Secwepemc Nation and Syilx Okanagan Nation in the negotiations on the Columbia River Treaty is an important and necessary step,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. “Canada must respect the right of First Nations to be involved in any activities that affect their rights and their traditional territories. I have advocated for Canada to extend an official role for First Nations in negotiations of international agreements, and the AFN passed a national resolution supporting direct First Nation participation in Columbia River Treaty. Foreign Affairs Minister Freeland has done the right thing by including these First Nations. This should be part of a broader move to involve First Nations in all national and international negotiations where our rights can be impacted. There is the added benefit that involving First Nations leads to better decisions and better outcomes.”

Canada and the United States are currently negotiating to modernize the Columbia River Treaty, first signed in 1964 to develop hydroelectric power in the Columbia River Basin and control flooding. Decisions made under the Treaty have had many adverse effects on the First Nations involved, including damage to village and burial sites and damage to fish stocks, a traditional food source with cultural and spiritual significance. The three First Nations have had some input into the negotiations, but on April 26, Minister Freeland announced that representatives from the First Nations will participate as official observers in the negotiations. Chiefs-in-Assembly called for such a move in resolution 23/2018, First Nations Participation in the Re-negotiation of the Columbia River Treaty, passed by consensus at the AFN’s 2018 Annual General Assembly. The next round of negotiations takes place June 19-20 in Washington, D.C.

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:

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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Sid LeeAFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Says Involvement of First Nations in Columbia River Treaty Negotiations is the Right Move That Will Lead to Better Outcomes

Broken Systems Failed Tina Fontaine – AFN Says Coordinated Action Required to Implement Manitoba Child Advocate Report’s Recommendations

on March 12, 2019

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde says the report released today by the Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth underscores the need to address long-standing failures in approaches by governments across a range of systems, including education, health and mental wellness, and victim support services, in regard to the care and safety of First Nations children.

“This report lays bare the reality that First Nations children and families are still impacted by a history of colonialism and government policies aimed at breaking apart our cultures, our families and our nations,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “Children are our most sacred gifts from the Creator, and the systems that should be protecting them are failing them. I continue to offer support to the family and friends of Tina Fontaine as they seek justice and healing. The focus now must be reducing risk. We need urgent action by governments and agencies to work with First Nations families, leaders and experts to act on these recommendations among others. Our guiding principle must be the best interests of the child, including fostering strong connections to their kin and their cultures. I look forward to public progress reports on this important work.”

Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth Daphne Penrose this morning released a special report published after an investigation in accordance with The Advocate for Children and Youth Act. The report, A Place Where it Feels Like Home: The Story of Tina Fontaine, contains five recommendations directed at the Manitoba government, government systems and public bodies. It was released in Tina Fontaine’s home community of Sagkeeng First Nation and aims to uncover truths and honour Tina Fontaine’s legacy.

The 115-page report contains pointed comments on the impacts of colonialism, specifically stating that Tina Fontaine “carried a burden that was not her own”. It offers five recommendations in the areas of education, health and mental wellness, victim support services and child and family services. Ms. Penrose revealed her office will be tracking government compliance with the recommendations publicly.

“This report is a clear call to action for the government to work with First Nations to keep our children safe,” said AFN Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin Hart, who holds the portfolio for Child Welfare. “The report states that Manitoba has the highest prevalence rate of missing children and youth in the country. We cannot stand by and wait for another tragedy to prompt action. Our children are the center of the circle of our nations. We are taking action and we must keep up momentum. The AFN worked to ensure legislation on First Nations child welfare was put forward last month that will support our right and our jurisdiction to take responsibility for our children. This is one piece of much larger reforms that are needed. My thoughts are with the family of Tina Fontaine as they receive this report, and I want today to mark a new beginning in the safety and protection of our children.”

The August 2014 death of 15-year old Tina Fontaine drew national attention and highlighted the national priority of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Raymond Cormier was acquitted of second-degree murder charges by jury in February 2018.

First Nations have called for changes to the justice system in Canada, including increased representation by First Nations on juries and support for First Nations approaches to justice, including restorative justice.

Following years of pressure and advocacy for action and reform, last month the federal government introduced federal legislation on Indigenous child welfare that recognizes First Nations jurisdiction over child and family services.

The AFN continues to call for a coordinated national action plan to provide safety and security for First Nations women and girls that would include shelters and safe spaces, education and training, transportation, daycare and other supports. The National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls is expected to conclude June 2019.

The full report by the Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth is available at https://manitobaadvocate.ca/wp-content/uploads/MACY-Special-Report-March-2019-Tina-Fontaine-FINAL1.pdf

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

 

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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Sid LeeBroken Systems Failed Tina Fontaine – AFN Says Coordinated Action Required to Implement Manitoba Child Advocate Report’s Recommendations

National Chief Perry Bellegarde Bulletin – March 2019

on March 12, 2019

Federal Legislation on Indigenous Child Welfare – Bill C-92


SUMMARY:

  • On February 28, 2019 Indigenous Services Canada Minister Seamus O’Regan introduced federal legislation on Indigenous child welfare (Bill C-92) that recognizes First Nations jurisdiction over child and family services.
  • The proposed legislation was developed with input by the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) legislative working group, comprised of First Nations leaders, technicians and experts from across the country, drawing on years of advocacy and direction.

The initiative to develop this legislation was announced on November 30, 2018 by AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde, the former Indigenous Services Canada Minister and leaders of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and Métis National Council.

Our children are sacred.  They are gifts from the Creator.  They are the focus and center of our nations, and they deserve every opportunity to fulfil their dreams and succeed.  Decades of underfunding and misguided approaches have harmed our children and families.  Outdated laws and policies have created a situation where our children are grossly over-represented in the child welfare system. We need comprehensive reform across the system, and federal legislation is an essential piece of this reform.

On February 28, the federal government introduced legislation on Indigenous child welfare that recognizes our jurisdiction over child and family services. This follows years of pressure and advocacy for action and reform.  It is a major step toward regaining responsibility over our children.

Bill C-92, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Children, Youth and Families, was introduced in Parliament by Indigenous Services Canada Minister Seamus O’Regan. The AFN legislative working group, comprised of First Nations leaders, technicians and experts from across the country, had direct input into the development of this legislation.  The group drew from years of advocacy and direction to secure key clauses in respect to jurisdiction and prevention.  With a focus on the safety, security and future of First Nations children, this legislation recognizes First Nations jurisdiction to build systems based on First Nations governance, laws and policies. It is about recognizing First Nations jurisdiction as paramount over federal and provincial jurisdiction.  The goal is prevention over apprehension, and keeping our children close and connected to their cultures, healthy and loving families and nations.

The recognition of our jurisdiction is a critical and essential element of reform.  The legislation recognizes the right of First Nations to be responsible for child welfare as an inherent right under section 35 of Canada’s Constitution.  Based on First Nations direction, this legislation helps fill the “box of rights” in section 35.

There are two provisions in the proposed legislation that are key to First Nations and will take effect as soon as the law is passed – family unity, and automatic standing.  Family unity means that every placement of an Indigenous child can be reassessed under the new law. Automatic standing means that a family member will have legal standing in any cases before the courts and First Nations representatives may make representations to courts.

This legislation does not infringe on any existing agreements or impede existing processes that First Nations are working on, including recent agreements in regions across the country. Many First Nations have already built successful child welfare systems or are in the process of doing so. This legislation will give every First Nation the ability to build a system based on their laws, values and priorities.  Every government – federal, provincial and territorial – must work together with First Nations to ensure a seamless transition that supports and recognizes First Nations jurisdiction and ensures no child is left behind.

One area that requires continued advocacy is funding and investments to support our systems.  As you know, legislation never contains specific dollar amounts but this legislation does reference the need for funding in the preamble.  We must continue to advocate for the inclusion of explicit funding provisions that provide for equitable and sustained funding for First Nations.  We will continue to push on all fronts for the right investments to ensure our children are safe, secure and enjoy a fair start in life to pursue every opportunity before them.

I am proud of the efforts to date by everyone involved and want to see this legislation passed before the parliamentary session ends this June. There is some urgency to this work and I look forward to working with you to realize this longstanding goal.

This legislation is truly a new chapter for our children and families – one where we write the laws, policies and values that apply to our children regardless of where they reside. It’s time to end the epidemic of apprehension and ensure our children grow up with a strong connection to their families, nations, cultures and languages.  We can and will create a better day for our children and families.

The AFN is conducting a full review and analysis of the proposed legislation and we will make it available once complete.

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Roy WhiteduckNational Chief Perry Bellegarde Bulletin – March 2019

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
[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
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