News

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

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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

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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

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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.

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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 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

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Joins First Nations Veterans to Mark Remembrance Day at National Ceremony in Ottawa on November 11

on November 10, 2017

November 10, 2017

(Ottawa, ON) – On Remembrance Day, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde will be joined by First Nations veterans for ceremonies in Ottawa to honour all, who have served their country with bravery and pride.  First Nations veterans fought for freedom in World Wars I and II, the Korean War and Vietnam War, and First Nations citizens continue to serve their country in military and peacekeeping missions around the world.

“On this day we remember those who served their people and their country, knowing that the quest for justice continues for First Nations veterans, their spouses and families. This is especially the case for those living in rural or remote communities trying to access services provided by Veteran Affairs Canada,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. “In April I was with First Nations veterans in France at the Battle of Vimy Ridge centennial to witness a powerful and moving ceremony for the thousands of fallen soldiers buried in foreign lands. Today, and every day we remember the incredible sacrifice and lasting contributions of our veterans and those who continue to serve.”

This Saturday on Remembrance Day, National Chief Bellegarde will be honoured to take part in the commemorative ceremony at the National War Memorial with 86 year old First Nation Veteran Doug Knockwood from Nova Scotia. The ceremony starts at 11 a.m. Eastern Time.

This year First Nations Veterans participated in the international commemoration ceremonies at Vimy Ridge, Dieppe and Passchendaele.

 

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 WhiteduckAFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Joins First Nations Veterans to Mark Remembrance Day at National Ceremony in Ottawa on November 11

AFN BULLETIN – AFN to Initiate Working Group on Impacts of Proposed Cannabis legalization

on November 7, 2017

October, 2017

In July 2018, two bills dealing with the legalization of Cannabis (Acts C-45 & C-46) will become Canadian law, significantly changing the social and economic environment within the country. A report tabled in November 2016 described Canada’s priorities on cannabis to be: keeping cannabis out of the hands of children and youth, and preventing organized crime from profiting from cannabis sales, while also maintaining public health and safety, fairness, collaboration and a commitment to evidence-informed policy.

Between now and the July 2018 deadline, the only opportunity for the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) to obtain direction from Chiefs on how to define and launch our own cannabis-specific goals, policy and strategy is the December Special Chiefs Assembly.

In September 2017, the Executive Committee passed a motion that a National Working Group on Cannabis be created that would assist First Nations in all regions to be engagement-ready and in a better position to assert their rights, title and interests when the new cannabis legislation comes into effect. Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day and Quebec-Labrador Regional Chief Ghislain Picard will lead the file.

A Terms of Reference for the National Working Group on Cannabis has been developed and a proposal to fund the National Working Group is being drafted. The proposed approach is to:

  • Meet with various federal departments and agencies on the legislation, and
  • Hold bi-lateral discussions so that First Nation input is heard at all levels.

As with all other federal initiatives, it is important that First Nations have the relevant information to consider the impacts and how it relates to their level of readiness for change. At this point, there is not enough information distributed to First Nations to facilitate this readiness, including any positive and negative impacts. Output of information to First Nations regarding cannabis discussions and development is critical to ensure First Nations are prepared.

Issues that must be considered to prepare for the change include the following:

  • Public health – How will new health implications be addressed? Will solutions be designed and carried out in partnership with First Nations? What standards, mental health services and addictions care will be put in place to deal with cannabis on–reserve and off-reserve?
  • Justice – How will the changes impact criminal law, policing and those already in institutions?
  • Government system – How will licencing be determined? How will First Nation governments be included?
  • Education and public awareness – Will there be programs to speak to youth and adults about the impacts of cannabis use? Will there be properly-resourced programs to deal with the impacts?
  • Potential economic opportunities – Will First Nation business be granted licenses to manufacture and distribute cannabis products (consistent with AFN resolution 123/2016)?
  • Revenues – how will revenues from cannabis sales be directed? What portion of the funds will go back into public awareness and anti-addiction programs?
  • Impaired driving and workplace safety concerns – will there be supports in place to address these concerns over public safety on the roads and in our workplaces?
  • Jurisdictional – how will the changes impact Indigenous rights and lands? How will First Nations exert their rights and law in relation to these new changes?
  • Social – What are the impacts to First Nations social systems? How will community cultural perspectives and values be impacted by this legislation?
  • And other important factors for review, such as the application of medical cannabis in relieving disability related conditions.

The National Working Group on Cannabis will work to ensure that First Nations have the information they need to be prepared for this new legislation, as well as providing information that considers a broad set of matters that touch on everything from youth issues to transportation concerns to rights and title to economic development.

We will provide more information in the near future.

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Roy WhiteduckAFN BULLETIN – AFN to Initiate Working Group on Impacts of Proposed Cannabis legalization

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde says First Nations Must be Fully Involved in the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment

on November 6, 2017

(Vancouver, BC) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde, along with a delegation including Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin Hart and Grand Chief Edward John of First Nations Summit, told the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) at their meeting today that First Nations must play a crucial role in identifying and implementing solutions to the environmental and climate change challenges that all First Nations are impacted by.

“First Nations need to be full and effective members of the CCME and contribute to the development of strategies and plans that relate to the environment and climate change,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “Reconciliation has to include respect for our Elder’s traditional knowledge and our understanding of the lands and waters, the animals and plant life. We have a central role to play in lawmaking in this area, and we have responsibilities to safeguard our traditional territories and our people. We hold valuable knowledge that can help everyone in maintaining a healthy environment for all our children.”

The National Chief advocated for these positions today at the meeting of the CCME and called for inclusion of First Nations as General Members, which would mean full inclusion in the Council’s work. The National Chief encouraged inclusion of First Nations in the emerging economy for clean energy and adaptation. He also reiterated his call for federal legislation to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

In his presentation to the CCME, the National Chief advanced three points:

  • First Nations must be full participants in all meetings of CCME as a means of ensuring their voices are heard in environmental and climate change solutions. Furthermore, the National Chief encouraged “regional tables” between First Nations and provinces and territories to ensure First Nation participation in CCME discussions within the different regions;
  • First Nations’ law must also be accommodated and recognized, in addition to common law and civil law, when dealing with environment and climate change regulation and management as a way to express and share First Nations’ traditional knowledge and responsibilities to safe guard the lands, wildlife, waters, and resources;
  • First Nations must be involved as key players in the emerging economic industry for clean energy, adaptation, and mitigation.

The AFN has created the Advisory Committee on Climate Action and the Environment (ACCAE) and is currently establishing a network of climate coordinators across Canada. The Assembly is also working with First Nations Elders on the development of an Indigenous Knowledge policy that would support federal efforts to better respond to the impacts of climate change and other environment issues.

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. 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
Tash CoteAssembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde says First Nations Must be Fully Involved in the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment
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