Description of the AFN
MY HEART IS A STONE. HEAVY WITH SADNESS FOR MY PEOPLE; cold with the knowledge that NO TREATY will keep the whites out of our land; hard with determination to resist as long as I live and breathe. Now we are weak and many of our people are afraid. But Hear Me: a single twig breaks, but the bundle of twigs is strong. Someday I will embrace our brother tribes and draw them into a bundle and together we will win our country back from the whites"
Tecumseh, Shawnee Chief
Historically the First Nations have a unique and special relationship with the Crown and the people of Canada, as manifested in treaties and other historical documents. In essence, the special relationship is one of (negotiated agreement with a view toward) peaceful coexistence based on equitable sharing of lands and resources, and ultimately on respect, recognition, and enforcement of our respective right to govern ourselves. The AFN exists to promote the "restoration and enhancement" of this relationship and to ensure that it is mutually beneficial to the First Nations people. The Assembly of First Nations is a national aboriginal advocacy organization.
The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is the national representative organization of the First Nations in Canada. There are over 630 First Nation's communities in Canada. The AFN Secretariat, is designed to present the views of the various First Nations through their leaders in areas such as: Aboriginal and Treaty Rights, Economic Development, Education, Languages and Literacy, Health, Housing, Social Development, Justice, Taxation, Land Claims, Environment, and a whole array of issues that are of common concern which arise from time to time.
The Chiefs meet annually to set national policy and direction through resolution. The National Chief is elected every three years by the Chiefs-in-Assembly. The present National Chief, of the Assembly of First Nations is Shawn Atleo. The Chiefs meet between the annual assemblies every 3 to 4 months in a forum called the "Confederacy of Nations" to set on going direction. The membership of the Confederacy consists of Chiefs and other Regional Leaders chosen according to a formula based on the population of each region. The AFN receives most of its operating funds from the Department of Indian Affairs.
The overall structure of the AFN is based on the Charter of the Assembly of First Nations, which was adopted in July 1985. The principal organs of the Assembly of First Nations are: the First Nations-in-Assembly; the Confederacy of Nations; the Executive Committee; the Secretariat (AFN/NIB); and the Council of Elders. The Executive Committee is made up of the Regional Vice-Chiefs, the National Chief, and the Chairperson of the Council of Elders. Chiefs of their respective regions select the Vice-Chiefs. The Chiefs in Assembly elect the National Chief every three years.