Prime Minster Harper Commits to Clear Mandate for Change in Relationship with First Nations

January 11, 2013

Today, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo met with the Prime Minister of Canada, Cabinet members, Chiefs and delegates to take forward pressing priorities of First Nations to seek action for transformative change, respecting our rights and responsibilities.

First Nations leadership came together in Ottawa in preparation the last few days for this meeting.  AFN Executive members, Regional Chiefs Perry Bellegarde and Jody Wilson-Raybould chaired important discussions, summarized by eight key points required for fundamental change.

These discussions were grounded in ceremony empowered by the sincere and profound expression among our peoples that change needs to happen and that change will be driven by our peoples, our women and our leadership.  

Delegates to today’s meeting forcefully brought forward First Nation voices to the Prime Minister:

“Our grassroots movement forces both of us to take heed and address these issues. We need answers to take to our peoples,” said Grand Chief Weaselhead, Blood Tribe, Treaty 7.

“We need to break the impasse through high-level political oversight,” said Chief Deborah Robinson, Acadia First Nation.

“Our people outside are rallying for change.  Their voices will not be silenced,” said AFN British Columbia Regional Chief Jody Wilson-Raybould.

Consistent with mandates to open the door for leadership, the conversation focused on the requirement for high-level oversight for movement on Treaty Implementation and comprehensive claims.

“We have achieved some movement today,” said National Chief Atleo. “The Prime Minister listened respectfully to Chiefs and responded to all they brought forward and for the first time, provided a clear mandate for high-level talks on Treaty Implementation.  Prime Minister Harper also committed to high-level discussions on comprehensive claims.”

The Prime Minister agreed that more central and political oversight was necessary to improve the relationship with First Nations.  He also committed to quick follow-up on all of these matters and to an ongoing dialogue.

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

For more information please contact:  

Jenna Young AFN Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 401; 613-314-8157 or jyoung@afn.ca

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

Assembly of First Nations