News

Site C Dam Decision “Disappointing and Completely Contrary to Reconciliation” says AFN National Chief Bellegarde

on December 12, 2017

December 11, 2017 

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde said today’s decision by B.C. Premier John Horgan to move forward with the Site C dam project is a major setback to reconciliation. First Nations will continue to work towards protection and prevention of the destruction of First Nations traditional territory.

“Today’s decision is disappointing,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. “I am confident that First Nations will continue their efforts to stop Site C and the next step will be legal challenges. We have rights in our traditional territories and, just as important, we have responsibilities to those traditional territories – to protect them, maintain them and sustain them. If this project proceeds it will devastate traditional territories and sacred sites. The B.C. NDP government pledged to work towards reconciliation and this decision is completely contrary to that. We will ensure governments respect our peoples, our rights and our lands. I commend the people of Treaty 8 for their action and advocacy against Site C and we stand with them as they continue this fight.”

The AFN and National Chief Bellegarde have a longstanding position opposing the proposed Site C dam. On October 22, 2016, National Chief Bellegarde along with leadership from the West Moberly First Nation and Prophet River First Nation toured the pristine Treaty 8 territory and the Peace River region. Over the years, Treaty 8 First Nations have taken legal action to overturn approvals of the controversial hydroelectric project that would flood thousands of acres of their traditional territories and prevent them from exercising their rights.

There are a number of AFN resolutions calling for action to stop Site C, including AFN resolution 03/2010, resolution 41/2015 and resolution 71/2015. AFN resolutions can be found at: afn.ca/en/resolutions

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. 116
343-540-6179 (cell)
jamiem@afn.ca

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

read more
Roy WhiteduckSite C Dam Decision “Disappointing and Completely Contrary to Reconciliation” says AFN National Chief Bellegarde

NATIONAL CHIEF BULLETIN – AFN-Canada Memorandum of Understanding Meeting on Joint Priorities and UN Declaration Update

on December 11, 2017

On November 20th, a delegation that included members of the AFN Executive, First Nations Chiefs, regional leadership, Elders and myself met with federal cabinet ministers to discuss joint priorities. This meeting occurred under the AFN-Canada MOU on Joint Priorities, which calls for three meetings a year to assess progress on our shared priorities and confirm directions forward. These meetings provide an important opportunity to engage with the most senior federal ministers for open and constructive dialogue and to assess progress, identify obstacles and seek ways to advance our priorities.

The agenda, consistent with the MOU, included:

  • The work towards a co-developed Indigenous Languages Act;
  • Working in partnership on measures to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including legislation to support implementation and co-developing a National Action Plan;
  • Priorities for a joint policy review including the Comprehensive Claims Policy, Inherent Right Policy, Additions-to-Reserve Policy and Specific Claims Policy;
  • Action on the TRC Calls to Action;
  • Identifying priorities and measuring progress to close the socio-economic gap between First Nations and other Canadians, with a focus on First Nations education, First Nations child welfare, First Nations housing, water and infrastructure, and First Nations emergency management;
  • Joint work towards New Fiscal Relationships;
  • First Nations Policing and community safety issues affecting First Nations;

It was a productive meeting with the AFN setting out our positions consistent with AFN resolutions and direction from First Nations across the country. Some highlights and key information:

Algonquin Elder Claudette Commanda opened the meeting with a prayer and welcomed us to their territory. AFN Elders Council Chair Elmer Courchene provided opening remarks as well, urging action for future generations by all those present at the meeting. I thank the Elders for their wisdom and guidance.

As Co-chair of the meeting with the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Carolyn Bennett, I identified our priorities and the need for immediate action and, where legislation is concerned, the need to get this done before the next election federal in October 2019.

On Languages, Heritage Minister Joly said Canada re-iterated Canada’s commitment to work with First Nations to co-develop content of legislation to support First Nations objectives to revitalize and recover our languages.

Justice Minister Wilson-Raybould spoke to work in her area on rights recognition. We impressed the importance of moving beyond policies and laws aimed at denial of our rights and towards recognition, implementation and enforcement of our rights, Treaties, title and jurisdiction. She stated First Nations must rightfully determine what will help advance self-determination, and said the government must get its house in order, as indicated by the recent INAC split, the full endorsement of the UN Declaration and the 10 guiding principles she gave to government departments.

The Justice Minister outlined four goals: set standards of conduct on recognition of rights which would include educating officials and guiding them through any new legislation or policy; align laws with the UN Declaration; establish mechanisms to support self-determination; establish mechanisms for accountability and transparency for the relationship.

Minister Wilson Raybould also spoke to the law and policy review, with myself and others clearly stating that First Nations must be directly involved in this work.

On implementation of the UN Declaration, the Minister indicated support for NDP MP Romeo Saganash’s Bill 262, An Act to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. She announced later that the Liberals would support the bill (see the next section).

Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Bennett spoke to the TRC and said that two-thirds of the Calls to Action are moving forward, and that an Interim Council will soon be announced to fulfill four of the Calls to Action. She agrees with the need for joint work.

First Nations leadership took the opportunity to identify areas for investment throughout the discussions, especially important given that Finance Minister Morneau was at the meeting. The Finance Minister said the timing for the meeting was right because the government has started the federal budgeting process for 2018. He committed to working together with First Nations.

First Nations policing was a substantive topic for discussions with Public Safety Minister Goodale. Many participants spoke strongly of the need to strengthen and expand the programs to put them at par with other police services in the country in terms of salaries, equipment, technology and resources, and to recognize them as an essential service. Minister Goodale acknowledged that the program has not changed since it was first introduced in 1996 and that the budget hasn’t increased since 1999. First Nations emphasized the urgency for action given many agreements end in March 2018. The Minister stated he is aware of this. He is meeting with various parties and referenced the AFN resolution supporting First Nations policing. Minister Goodale said there are two key principles: the need for more resources, as noted; and the need to evolve from a temporary program that expires every few years to one that continues and is seen as an essential service.

On the urgent issue of closing the social and economic gap, Indigenous Services Minister Philpott said this can be addressed through rights recognition and respect, and meeting the minimum standards in the UN Declaration. She committed to attending our upcoming SCA in December to speak more on these matters. AFN Saskatchewan Regional Chief Cameron took the opportunity to inform those present that the work underway on First Nations education is and always will be based on protecting and upholding First Nations jurisdiction and Treaty rights, including our rights to education.

These are some of the key pieces of information from the meeting that I want to share with you. We can provide more information, and I encourage you to contact your Regional Chief or regional representative at the meeting for further information. The proposed date for the next meeting is March 21, 2018.

Justice Minister Announces Government Support for Bill C-262 to Implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Following our meeting on November 21, Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould announced that the government will support Bill C-262, a Private Member’s Bill put forward by NDP MP Romeo Saganash. Bill C-262 seeks to ensure all Canadians laws are consistent with the UN Declaration and requires the federal government to create an action plan to implement the Declaration. The AFN Executive Committee has informed the Justice Minister many times that we support this bill and the path it provides for implementing the UN Declaration.

The bill will go through the government’s legislative process, which means First Nations will have the opportunity to provide input and comment on the Bill. I want to acknowledge and lift up MP Romeo Saganash for his determination, perseverance and strong stand for our peoples and our rights.

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Roy WhiteduckNATIONAL CHIEF BULLETIN – AFN-Canada Memorandum of Understanding Meeting on Joint Priorities and UN Declaration Update

Assembly of First Nations Lends Support to CONAIE and FDA Efforts to Hold Chevron Accountable for Environmental Damage in Ecuador

on December 6, 2017

December 6, 2017

(Ottawa, ON) – In a setback to Chevron Corporation’s campaign to evade a $9.5 billion liability owed to rainforest communities, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and Ecuador signed a protocol today to hold the corporation accountable for dumping billions of gallons of toxic oil waste and for ongoing violations of Indigenous rights.

The agreement was signed at the AFN Special Chiefs Assembly in Ottawa by AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde, Jamie Vargas, the National Chief of Ecuador and the President of that country’s Indigenous federation, known as CONAIE, and Carmen Cartuche, the President of the Front for the Defense of the Amazon (FDA), the community-based organization in Ecuador’s Amazon region that brought a historic lawsuit against Chevron on behalf of Indigenous and farmer communities. The agreement is supported by a resolution passed unanimously by Chiefs-in-Assembly today.

“Any violation of Indigenous rights is a violation against all Indigenous peoples,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. “This protocol puts Chevron and all corporations on notice that we are watching and we will be vigilant in protecting our rights and our territories. We stand with our brothers and sisters in Ecuador in calling for full respect for Indigenous peoples, their rights and traditional territories.”

“This protocol is a profound step forward for Indigenous groups in both Ecuador and Canada to hold an irresponsible corporate polluter accountable for its actions in destroying Indigenous lands and cultures in the Amazon and around the world,” said Vargas, who is currently leading a national march of Indigenous groups in Ecuador to pressure the national government to respect First Nations territorial rights.

The protocol between the two national federations is potentially a major blow to Chevron’s efforts to evade the environmental liability, imposed by three layers of courts in Ecuador in 2013 after the company was found to be responsible for deliberately dumping billions of gallons of toxic oil waste onto Indigenous ancestral lands as a cost-saving measure. Cancer rates in the area have skyrocketed and the cultures of five Indigenous groups – Cofan, Secoya, Huaorani, Kichwa, and Siona – have been decimated, according to evidence before the Ecuador court.

Although Chevron had insisted the trial take place in Ecuador and had accepted jurisdiction there, the company later refused to pay the environmental judgment. The case is now in Canadian courts, where the affected communities have won three consecutive appellate decisions in their effort to seize Chevron assets to force the company to comply with the rule of law and pay the Ecuador judgment.

President Cartuche of the FDA, which has led the lawsuit against Chevron since it was filed in 1993, said, “We want to thank our Canadian brothers and sisters for standing with our communities in their historic struggle to hold Chevron accountable. We look forward to developing joint programs to ensure that Chevron pays a very heavy price for its crimes in Ecuador and for any violations of human rights no matter where they occur.”

The protocol grew out of an invitation issued by Ecuadorian Indigenous groups to their Canadian counterparts to visit the affected area in Ecuador, where Chevron abandoned roughly 1,000 unlined oil waste pits after operating in the country from 1964 to 1992. The protocol is an agreement by all parties to ensure Chevron respects Indigenous rights and territories in all its activities. Chevron has tried to obtain impunity in Canada by claiming its assets cannot be seized because they are held by a subsidiary even though it is wholly-owned by the company. That particular issue is scheduled for argument in April before the Ontario Court of Appeal.

In all, 21 appellate judges in Ecuador and Canada have rejected Chevron’s arguments and ruled in favor of various aspects of the claims of the Ecuadorian Indigenous groups. Not a single appellate judge in either of the two countries has sided with Chevron.

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

read more
Roy WhiteduckAssembly of First Nations Lends Support to CONAIE and FDA Efforts to Hold Chevron Accountable for Environmental Damage in Ecuador

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde Reinforces Support for First Nations Policing as an Essential Service

on December 6, 2017

December 6, 2017

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today called on the federal government to act now to recognize First Nations police services as an essential service and to provide the funding and support similar to other police forces in the country.

“The safety of our families and children is our priority and First Nations police are on the frontline in that work,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “The stark reality is that funding for First Nations policing on-reserve hasn’t risen since 2009. Our police officers are brave and dedicated people who deserve quality equipment and fair salaries. The government needs to designate them an essential service and support them as an essential service. This is about justice, fairness and safe and secure communities for families.”
The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador region held a press conference today at the AFN Special Chiefs Assembly in Ottawa, calling for sustained support for First Nations policing. AFN resolution 45/2017, passed unanimously at the AFN Annual General Assembly in 2017, calls on the federal government to ensure First Nations police services are viewed as essential services and are supported equitably with municipal and provincial police forces.

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. 116
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 WhiteduckAssembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde Reinforces Support for First Nations Policing as an Essential Service

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)
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

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

AFN BULLETIN – November 2017

on November 29, 2017

Update on First Nations Education

The Assembly of First Nations Special Chiefs Assembly (SCA) is taking place December 5-7 in Ottawa, Ontario. The SCA will feature discussion and dialogue around a number of issues, including First Nations education and our long-standing goal of First Nations control of First Nations education.

Our work on education is based on respecting, protecting and enforcing First Nations inherent rights and Treaty rights, title and jurisdiction. Jurisdiction remains with each First Nation chief and council. The federal government will not delegate any education responsibilities or funding to any provincial or territorial government.

We know that fair funding for our children and students is essential to success in education. To address this, AFN and its Chiefs Committee on Education (CCOE) is involved in co-developing a Memorandum to Cabinet (MC) on federal education funding for First Nations. The AFN has received some questions about this work and we want to provide some information prior to the SCA.

First Nations and the AFN have been advocating since 2001 for policy and program reform that provides core funding for education directly to First Nation governments, education organizations and schools. This MC process is not about developing federal legislation for First Nation education. It is about policy and program change for Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada’s (INAC’s) federal education programming and funding. This MC process is not about funding going through provinces. It is about direct transfers to First Nation governments for First Nations education.

The co-development process between AFN, CCOE and INAC has produced a draft MC that will be available and will be discussed at the SCA. There are four major outcomes of the draft MC on First Nations education funding.

  1. Supporting First Nations, through funded regional tables, to negotiate and conclude regional “First Nation Education Agreements.” The agreements will include an education funding model designed by First Nations based on the unique needs of their students, communities and schools (starting in 2018-19). First Nations can define “regions” for themselves as an individual First Nation, a language group, a school board model, a Tribal Council-style entity, a Treaty-based approach, or any other suitable grouping. The new MC will move away from the government’s push to try and force aggregation on our education systems and our governments.
  2. Unlocking the remaining funding committed in federal budget 2016 for “Transforming First Nation Education” (approximately $665 million). Currently, this is limited to school board funding. The new MC will unlock this amount and combine it with the total budget commitments for First Nations education, which will then be available to all First Nations, with a priority for those that need it most (starting in 2018-19).
  3. Replacing INAC’s outdated, unequitable and inadequate federal education funding programs with regional education approaches and funding models that provide sufficient, predictable and sustainable funding (starting 2019-20).
  4. The MC will signal the intention of First Nations to develop a supplementary budget ask for the 2019 Federal Budget that will identify the funding required to conclude regional education agreements and meet the needs for First Nation students (over and above the $2.3 billion committed in 2016).

These four points address some of the key questions and issues that have been raised throughout this work. There will be more detailed information provided at the SCA, and the video at this link also provides more information:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GwEVjt51R9A

We look forward to a constructive and informative discussion at the upcoming Special Chiefs Assembly. If you would like more information please contact AFN Director of Education Janice Ciavaglia at 613-241-6789 ext. 206 or by email at jciavaglia@afn.ca

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Roy WhiteduckAFN BULLETIN – November 2017

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Says We Can Act Now on Safety for Indigenous Women on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

on November 25, 2017

(Ottawa, ON) –Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, observed every year on November 25, by calling for action now to help ensure safety for Indigenous women and girls.

“I look forward to the day when November 25 will be celebrated for the elimination of violence against mothers, sisters, grandmothers, and all women and girls, but there are actions we can take right now to move in this direction,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “Governments at all levels need to ensure that everyone has the social services and supports that make neighbourhoods healthy places for families to grow up in. We can create and support safe spaces and shelters, access to employment, education, public transport, daycare, proper housing, running water and the essential amenities of life. As individuals, we all need to appreciate the gifts and contributions of the women around us.”

The Chair of the AFN Women’s Council, Chief Denise Stonefish, says more needs to be done to address violence against women: “Violence against women is a terrible issue that affects women, families and children across the country, and throughout the world. Especially for Indigenous women, one day of public awareness is not enough to end violence against women. It has been proven again and again that there is an inequality in Canada when it comes to social and family supports on-reserve. It is only through working together and giving all women and their families in Canada the same social supports and equality in social funding that we will eliminate this tragic issue and also end missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Let’s put an end to violence against all women!”

In December 1993, the United Nations adopted the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women. In 1999, the United Nations named November 25th as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

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

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
Angie TurnerAFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Says We Can Act Now on Safety for Indigenous Women on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Congratulates New Brunswick/Prince Edward Island Regional Chief Roger Augustine on Re-election

on November 23, 2017

November 23, 2017

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today congratulated New Brunswick/Prince Edward Island Regional Chief Roger Augustine on his re-election by Chiefs in his region and acknowledged the work of Stewart Paul, a lawyer from Tobique First Nation who also ran in the election.

National Chief Perry Bellegarde said: “Regional Chief Augustine has been a strong voice for First Nations rights and First Nations peoples for more than 30 years in his region and across the country. His depth of knowledge and experience benefits all of us at the Assembly of First Nations. He has been instrumental in protecting First Nations fisheries and fishing rights from coast to coast to coast. I look forward to continuing our work together to build stronger First Nations in the New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island regions and across the country.”

Roger Augustine has been NB/PEI Regional Chief since 2008. He has overseen many important national issues for the AFN during that time and currently serves on the AFN Executive Committee and oversees the AFN fisheries portfolio. He is Mi’kmaq from New Brunswick and was Chief of Eel Ground First Nation from 1980 to 1996.

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
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

read more
Roy WhiteduckAFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Congratulates New Brunswick/Prince Edward Island Regional Chief Roger Augustine on Re-election

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Welcomes the Government’s Support for Bill C-262 to Implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

on November 22, 2017

November 21, 2017

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today said the Liberal government’s support of An Act to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, is a welcome and positive step that will advance reconciliation and build a stronger country for First Nations and all Canadians.

“The United Nations Declaration provides a framework for reconciliation and renewing the nation-to-nation relationship between the crown and First Nations,” said Assembly of First Nations National Chief Bellegarde. “Giving life to the UN Declaration in Canadian law will build a stronger country, one that upholds human rights and Indigenous rights,  values First Nations peoples and cultures, and believes that all children deserve the same opportunities. We look forward to working with Canada to see that any new legislation that is passed fully respects First Nations rights, Treaties, title and jurisdiction.”

Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould announced yesterday that the government will support Bill C-262, a Private Member’s Bill put forward by NDP Member of Parliament Romeo Saganash. Bill C-262 seeks to ensure all Canadians laws are consistent with the UN Declaration and requires the federal government to create an action plan to implement the Declaration.

National Chief Bellegarde said, “First Nations are looking forward to their opportunity to provide input and comment on the Bill as it works its way through the Parliamentary process. I do want to acknowledge and lift up MP Romeo Saganash for his determination, perseverance and strong stand for our peoples and our rights.”

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2007, sets out minimum standards for ensuring Indigenous peoples enjoy fundamental human rights, including the collective right to self-determination and rights to lands, territories and resources. Canada fully endorsed the Declaration in 2016. National Chief Bellegarde has been a strong proponent of the UN Declaration, and his Closing the Gap strategy calls for Canada to implement the UN Declaration through legislation and for a joint review of all policies and laws to ensure they are consistent with First Nations rights, including the Declaration.

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)Ngahere Wafer
mhutchinson@afn.ca

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Roy WhiteduckAFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Welcomes the Government’s Support for Bill C-262 to Implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Critical Federal Programs Failing First Nations Citizens: AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde on Auditor General’s Fall 2017 Report

on November 22, 2017

November 22, 2017

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde says the Auditor General of Canada’s fall 2017 report released yesterday shows that programs and services that are essential for the wellbeing and future of First Nations people are failing and immediate action is needed.

“Yesterday’s report by the Auditor General sets out findings that are consistent with First Nations experience. What we need now is to work together on a plan to address these critical problems, which are vital to the health and wellbeing of First Nations citizens,” said National Chief Bellegarde.

The report includes a chapter on Preparing Women Offenders for Release—Correctional Service Canada which notes among other findings that Correctional Service Canada (CSC) is using outdated or ineffective assessment tools, is not preparing women offenders for parole hearings, and is not meeting the rehabilitation needs of women offenders. It finds that Indigenous women offenders specifically do not have sufficient or timely access to correctional programs and interventions, especially culturally-based programs.

“The problems in correctional services are especially troubling given the vast over-representation of First Nations women in the justice system,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “The ongoing failures in CSC are further harming First Nations women. They deserve and need access to Elders, healing lodges and other programs and services that will help them heal their mind, body and spirit and get their lives back on track. These supports have proven to be very effective. This is part of our overall goal of realizing First Nations-led restorative justice systems, and overhauling the justice system from policing to courts to recognition of Indigenous law.”

The National Chief also noted the findings and recommendations in the chapter on Oral Health Programs for First Nations and Inuit—Health Canada, which mainly deals with the impacts of dental benefits under the Children’s Oral Health Initiative (COHI). The chapter notes that Health Canada has difficulties tracking and assessing the program.

AFN National Chief Bellegarde said: “It’s clear that First Nations practitioners can be a key component in solving the long term human resource gaps in First Nations communities. This benefits our people and Health Canada. We need to develop an overall strategic vision for First Nations health – including oral health – and First Nations must be full partners in that work. First Nations deserve access to stable, sustainable and culturally appropriate health care no matter where they reside, something most Canadians are able to take for granted. This work cannot wait.”

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

read more
Roy WhiteduckCritical Federal Programs Failing First Nations Citizens: AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde on Auditor General’s Fall 2017 Report
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