News

AFN National Chief Bellegarde Says New Approach for Rights Implementation Essential, First Nations Engagement Crucial

on February 15, 2018

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today welcomed the announcement by Prime Minister Trudeau of a new approach to rights recognition and implementation to be developed “in full partnership” with First Nations, including new mechanisms to recognize First Nations systems of governance and ensure consistent, meaningful implementation of Treaties and other agreements.

“Today the Prime Minister of Canada signaled a government-wide shift and a new approach to the recognition and full implementation of First Nations rights that will be developed in full partnership with First Nations before the next election,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “Our rights are a reality that has been denied for too long, resulting in conflict and court battles for enforcement of our inherent rights, Treaty rights, title and jurisdiction. This is an opportunity to move into a new era of recognition, with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as our framework for reconciliation. Recognizing and implementing our rights is directly connected to closing the gap for our peoples. The key will be walking this road together.”

Prime Minister Trudeau announced today Canada will develop a new approach towards the full recognition and implementation of Indigenous rights. The Prime Minister noted new legislation and policy would make the recognition and implementation of rights the basis for all relations between First Nations and the federal government. He laid out a timeline beginning with engagement that will continue throughout the spring, introduction of the framework for rights recognition this year, and implementation to take place before the next election.

National Chief Bellegarde added: “It was important to hear the Prime Minister repeat his government’s support for Bill C-262. That legislation is supported by First Nations, human rights advocates and many organizations that have fought for decades to see Indigenous rights realized and we are looking forward to seeing it completed.

The National Chief also noted the Prime Minister’s commitment, in the wake of the Colten Boushie trial to reforms to the justice system, including how juries are selected.

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
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext. 222
343-540-6179 (cell)
[email protected]

Jenna Young Castro
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext 201
613-314-8157 (cell)
[email protected]

 

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Angie TurnerAFN National Chief Bellegarde Says New Approach for Rights Implementation Essential, First Nations Engagement Crucial

Proposed Changes to Environmental Assessments Welcomed, Continued Engagement with First Nations Required

on February 9, 2018

February 8, 2018

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today welcomed proposed new legislation on environmental assessments, stating that with full and effective engagement with First Nations the AFN will seek every opportunity to further improve it prior to its implementation.

“Several of the priorities expressed and the input shared by First Nations is reflected in the proposed legislation announced by the federal government today,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde.  “In particular we welcome the positive steps taken to include the recognition of rights, early and ongoing engagement with First Nations, and the mandatory requirement to consider Indigenous traditional knowledge as part of the environmental review process, as well as respect for cultural impacts. There is always room for improvement and with the full engagement of First Nations, we will seek every opportunity to further improve this proposed legislation, including ensuring its consistency with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

Federal environment Minister Catherine McKenna announced the plans to overhaul the environmental assessment process at a press conference in Ottawa this morning.  It is part of a federal review involving four pieces of legislation, including the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA), the National Energy Board (NEB), the Fisheries Act (FA) and the Navigation Protection Plan (NPA).

“As part of our commitment toward collaboration and advocacy, AFN will continue to enable direct First Nation involvement in shaping legislative amendments and the co-development of policies and regulations,” said AFN Yukon Regional Chief Kluane Adamek.

Proposed amendments to the Fisheries Act were announced separately Tuesday by Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard Dominic LeBlanc.  Changes include restoring lost protections in the 2012-13 omnibus bills, protecting all fish, fish habitat, bio-diversity and the inclusion of Indigenous Traditional Knowledge to inform decisions that impact fish and fish habitat under the Act.

Chiefs from across Canada will gather May 1-2in Gatineau for an AFN Special Chiefs Assembly for a dialogue and review of federal legislation.

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
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext. 222
343-540-6179 (cell)
[email protected]

Jenna Young Castro
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext 201
613-314-8157 (cell) or [email protected]

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Roy WhiteduckProposed Changes to Environmental Assessments Welcomed, Continued Engagement with First Nations Required

Statement from National Chief Perry Bellegarde on Second Reading of Bill 262, An Act to Harmonize Canada’s laws with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

on February 8, 2018

February 8, 2018

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde released the following statement following the second reading of Bill 262 – an Act to harmonize Canada’s laws with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“Yesterday, a crucial step towards reconciliation was taken as Bill C-262 passed second reading in Canada’s Parliament.

Reconciliation is a non-partisan issue. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is a central part of reconciliation. First Nations and Canadians support legislation to implement the UN Declaration. All parliamentarians should be part of this act of reconciliation as a matter of human rights.

Bill C-262 would require the federal government to take concrete action with First Nations to co-develop a national action plan and work together to ensure the laws of Canada are consistent with the Declaration.

Bill C-262 is about working together to build a stronger country for all of us. We look forward to ongoing dialogue with First Nations and Canadians as we work towards the adoption of this Bill.”

 

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
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext. 222
343-540-6179 (cell)
[email protected]

Jenna Young Castro
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext 201
613-314-8157 (cell) or [email protected]

read more
Roy WhiteduckStatement from National Chief Perry Bellegarde on Second Reading of Bill 262, An Act to Harmonize Canada’s laws with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Immediate Relief Essential in Moving Forward on Child Welfare Reform; CHRT Issues Fourth Ruling to Canada

on February 1, 2018

February 1, 2018

February 1,2018
CHRT Decision

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today said immediate relief for First Nations children and families must be the next urgent step in child welfare reform, and the Government of Canada must work together with First Nations to uphold the fourth and most recent compliance order by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

“Nothing short of immediate action will suffice at this point,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde.  “Our children deserve justice and fairness. We need immediate relief for children in care and we must stop ripping families apart – not tomorrow, not in six months, not in one year but today.  First Nations are ready to move. This latest Tribunal order clearly states that Canada has to stop stalling and making excuses for inaction. Children are being apprehended every day.  Every day matters in this struggle for our children. The Government of Canada must respect the orders of its own Human Rights Tribunal.”

In a decision released by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal today, the Government of Canada is once again being ordered to address several aspects of funding for First Nation child welfare agencies with the goal of eliminating racial discrimination against First Nation children in Canada. The Tribunal noted that the manner in which Canada limits funding for prevention services is not an acceptable fiscal or social policy and is harming First Nations children as a result.

“The focus has to be on prevention and keeping First Nations children with their families and in their communities whenever possible,” said National Chief Bellegarde, who last week challenged the federal government, provinces and territories to work together with First Nations on child welfare reform during an emergency meeting called by Minister of Indigenous Services Jane Philpott. “This latest order has to be the catalyst for action and change.”

This latest decision by the Human Rights Tribunal is the fourth in the past two years calling on the federal government to stop discriminating against First Nations children. In May 2017 the Tribunal ordered Canada to fully implement Jordan’s Principle by applying it to all First Nations children in need of care, regardless of where they reside, and set out a number of directives and timelines for Canada to comply.  Two previous non-compliance orders were issued by the Tribunal in April 2016 and September 2016.

The AFN and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society jointly filed the complaint with the Tribunal in February 2007, alleging the provision of First Nations child and family services by the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs was flawed, inequitable and thus discriminatory under the Canadian Human Rights Act.

February 1,2018
CHRT Decision

 

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. 222
343-540-6179 (cell)
[email protected]

Jenna Young Castro
AFN Communications Officer
613-241-6789 ext 201
613-314-8157 (cell) or [email protected]

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Roy WhiteduckImmediate Relief Essential in Moving Forward on Child Welfare Reform; CHRT Issues Fourth Ruling to Canada

NATIONAL CHIEF PERRY BELLEGARDE BULLETIN – Emergency Meeting on First Nations, Inuit and Métis Child and Family Services

on January 30, 2018

January 30, 2018

First Nations, Inuit and Métis, Federal, Provincial and Territorial Governments Meeting on Child Welfare Reform

On January 25 and 26, First Nations leaders, Elders and child welfare experts and advocates gathered with Métis and Inuit leadership and federal, provincial and territorial representatives for an emergency meeting on child welfare reform.

The meeting was called by federal Minister of Indigenous Services Jane Philpott prior to the December 2017 Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Special Chiefs Assembly.

The emergency meeting was an opportunity to address the current human rights crisis currently facing our children and our families, and to challenge all governments to work with First Nations on child welfare reform. The AFN and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society’s human rights complaint to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal against the Government of Canada, led to a landmark ruling in 2016 that found Canada is discriminating against our children. That was an important ruling. We continue to pressure Canada to fully implement the Tribunal’s decision. I have always maintained that provincial and territorial systems must also come to the table to talk about reform and transformation.

At the emergency meeting, we heard from leaders, Elders and families on the harms caused to our children and families under the current systems. The systems are broken. We need to work together to fix them.

I challenged the federal government, provinces and territories to work with First Nations to establish new decision-making process in each province and territory – with clear roles, responsibilities and timelines and to live up to the Premiers’ 2016 commitment to make child welfare reform a priority. I also delivered this message by letter to each of the Premiers prior to the meeting.

It is time to shift the overall focus from apprehension to prevention and to establish approaches that unite rather than divide. The different systems need to improve communication and respect innovative, First Nation-led approaches to reform, including a shared focus on keeping children with their families and communities whenever possible. With more than 40,000 children in care, we all agree the current approach harms our children. The pain is real for our families. We know the problems. We know there are innovative solutions. Now is the time for action.

The federal government put forth a six-point plan of action by Minister Philpott during the meeting:

  • Continuing the work to fully implement all orders from the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal;
  • Shifting the programming focus to prevention and early intervention;
  • Work with our partners to sup
  • port communities to draw down jurisdiction in the area of child and family services, including exploring co-developed federal legislation;
  • Supporting Inuit and Métis leadership to advance culturally-appropriate reform;
  • Developing a data and reporting strategy with provinces, territories and Indigenous partners; and,
  • Accelerating the work of trilateral technical tables that are in place across the country.

First Nations remain focused on our key priorities. We must immediately close the funding gap that deprives First Nations children of their childhood, including essential programs and services other children in care receive. Minister Philpott has committed to a new infusion of resources in the upcoming federal budget. That is important, but we know our agencies and our children need support now. We also know that focusing on prevention and addressing issues that are related to poverty will help more children stay with their families and extended families and avoid being forced into care. We need to get better data and information and that needs to be shared between First Nations, the federal government and the provinces and territories. Investments today will save lives and future costs. I want to see action and a real plan for change.

The meeting took place during the two-year anniversary of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal’s ruling that the federal government discriminates against First Nations children and families on reserve.

I acknowledge the federal government and Minister Philpott for making this meeting happen, and welcome the dedication and commitment of the First Nations representatives who participated. Let’s remember, though, that we spent ten years at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to achieve this kind of attention. Now that the meeting is over, what is important is what happens to transform the systems so our children have fairness, hope and opportunity. We must see immediate action.

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Roy WhiteduckNATIONAL CHIEF PERRY BELLEGARDE BULLETIN – Emergency Meeting on First Nations, Inuit and Métis Child and Family Services

United Effort, Prevention are Keys to Fixing First Nations Child Welfare Systems National Chief Bellegarde Advises Emergency Meeting

on January 29, 2018

January 29, 2018

(Ottawa, ON) – Following a two-day emergency meeting of federal, provincial and territorial governments and First Nation, Métis and Inuit leaders and experts, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde said there is no excuse for inaction when it comes to fixing child welfare systems in Canada.

“It’s time to seek approaches that unite rather than divide; to move away from apprehension and put the priority on prevention; and keep children in their families and communities whenever possible,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “I want to see formal arrangements in every province and territory with clear roles, responsibilities and timelines to fix the broken systems. The current approach harms our children, and the pain is real for our families. We’ve heard about innovative solutions. There’s simply no excuse not to act.”

The meeting called by federal Minister of Indigenous Services Jane Philpott brought together provincial and territorial representatives along with First Nation, Métis and Inuit leaders, Elders and child welfare experts in Ottawa January 25-26.  The federal government, committed to six points of action outlined by Minister Philpott during the meeting.

January 26 marked two years since the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled the federal government discriminates against First Nations children and families on reserve. In 2016, National Chief Bellegarde challenged all provincial and territorial governments to work with First Nations on new approaches to reform First Nations child welfare, and they all agreed.

“We need to immediately close the funding gap that deprives First Nations children of essential programs and services other children in provincial care receive. We also know that focusing on prevention and addressing issues that are related to poverty will help more children stay with their families and extended families, and avoid being forced into care,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “We need to get better data and information, and that needs to be shared between First Nations, the federal government and the provinces and territories. Investments now save lives and future costs. I want to see action and a real plan for change.”

A dominant theme for First Nations during the sessions was the need for reform that is led by First Nations with support from the relevant jurisdictions.

 

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

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For media requests or more information, please contact:

Jamie Monastyrski
Press Secretary – National Chief’s Office
343-540-6179 (cell)
[email protected]

Jenna Young Castro
AFN Communications Officer
613-241-6789 ext 201
613-314-8157 (cell) or [email protected]

read more
Roy WhiteduckUnited Effort, Prevention are Keys to Fixing First Nations Child Welfare Systems National Chief Bellegarde Advises Emergency Meeting

Assembly of First Nations Offers Condolences on the Passing of Former Chief and Elder Doris McLean ‘Guna’

on January 26, 2018

January 26, 2018

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today offered condolences to the family and friends of mother, sister, wife, Elder and Leader, Mrs. Doris McLean, who passed away peacefully in Whitehorse, Yukon, earlier this week.

“On behalf of the Assembly of First Nations, I offer my sincere condolences to the family and friends of the late Mrs. Doris McLean as you gather to honour and celebrate her life,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “Elder McLean spent so much of her time serving her family, and serving all her people in the important and essential role of Clan Matriarch. She will be remembered for her many contributions to our people, to her nation and to the advancement of Modern Agreements in the Yukon that uphold First Nations rights. We offer thoughts and prayers to all who knew her.”

AFN Yukon Regional Chief Kluane Adamek stated: “Mrs. McLean was not only an inspiration, she was for me a dear friend. She was an incredibly experienced yet humble leader. She is a positive role model for Indigenous women and young people in Canada and around the globe. Her dedication and commitment to sharing her culture, sharing stories and bringing awareness to issues impacting our communities is commendable and will act as a legacy for the Yukon and beyond.”

A member of the Carcross/Tagish First Nation, McLean was one of the first females to represent her nation as Chief serving from 1988 to 1992. She had many notable achievements both in politics and art – she was a dancer who started the Skookum Jim/Keish Tlingit dance group in the 1970s. She went on to become the first Indigenous person to serve as Sergeant-at-Arms for the Yukon Legislative Assembly. Following a courageous battle with cancer, Mrs. McLean passed away this month in Whitehorse, Yukon. Services for the late Elder and former Chief of Carcross/Tagish First Nation will be held Saturday January 27 in Carcross, Yukon.

 

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

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For media requests or more information, please contact:

Jamie Monastyrski
Press Secretary – National Chief’s Office
343-540-6179 (cell)
[email protected]

Jenna Young Castro
AFN Communications Officer
613-241-6789 ext 201
613-314-8157 (cell) or [email protected]

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Roy WhiteduckAssembly of First Nations Offers Condolences on the Passing of Former Chief and Elder Doris McLean ‘Guna’

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Says Feds, Provinces and Territories Must Work with First Nations to Fix the Child Welfare System

on January 24, 2018

January 24, 2018

(Ottawa, ON) – In advance of a two-day emergency meeting in Ottawa, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde is calling for a commitment by the federal government, provinces and territories to formally work with First Nations to fix the First Nations child welfare system.

“In 2016, I challenged all provincial and territorial governments to work with First Nations on new approaches to reform First Nations child welfare, and they all agreed,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “Some jurisdictions are already moving on this urgent work, but we need formal arrangements in each province and territory with clear roles, responsibilities and timelines.  It’s time to move from a failed focus on apprehension, and put the priority on prevention. We want our children to remain in their communities and with their families whenever possible, and we want strong First Nations child welfare agencies to support them. This is about fairness and hope for our children.”

The emergency meeting called by federal Minister of Indigenous Services Jane Philpott will take place January 25-26 during the two year anniversary of the landmark Canadian Human Rights Tribunal decision which ruled the federal government discriminates against First Nations children on reserve by under-funding First Nations child welfare agencies.  The meeting, hosted by Minister Philpott, will include representation by provinces and territories, First Nation communities, Indigenous organizations and the federal government.

“It’s up to each jurisdiction to work together with First Nations to ensure every child has an opportunity to grow and thrive in a safe environment, surrounded and supported by their family and community,” said National Chief Bellegarde.  “We’re ready for action by all parties. I want to see each region have a process in place where the provincial and federal governments are working with First Nations on new approaches based on prevention. We’ve been fighting this battle for too long, including ten years for the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling. Ten years in the life of a child is their entire childhood. It’s time to fix the system now.”

In a January 2016 landmark decision, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled the federal government discriminates against First Nations children and families on reserve.

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

 

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For media requests or more information, please contact:

Jamie Monastyrski
Press Secretary – National Chief’s Office
343-540-6179 (cell)
[email protected]

Jenna Young Castro
AFN Communications Officer
613-241-6789 ext 201
613-314-8157 (cell) or [email protected]

read more
Roy WhiteduckAFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Says Feds, Provinces and Territories Must Work with First Nations to Fix the Child Welfare System

First Nations Leaders Join National Chief Bellegarde in Montreal to Support Indigenous Peoples Chapter in NAFTA Negotiations

on January 23, 2018

(Montreal, QC) – As the latest round of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) talks begin in Montreal, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde and a delegation of First Nations leaders, including members of the AFN Chiefs Committee on Economic Development, were in Montreal to show support for the Indigenous Peoples Chapter that is being introduced today at the negotiating table. The Indigenous Peoples Chapter is an initiative by Canada in response to National Chief Bellegarde’s recommendation as part of Canada’s NAFTA Council.

“It is essential that our rights, our peoples and our traditional territories are recognized, respected and honoured in these discussions,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. “The legal landscape on Indigenous rights has changed significantly since NAFTA was first negotiated, including the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This reality has to inform the NAFTA negotiations and any outcomes. We are here to reinforce to all parties that they endorsed the UN Declaration, and to remind Canada that regardless of the outcome, they have constitutional obligations to Indigenous peoples.”

The National Chief, along with portfolio holder B.C. Regional Chief Terry Teegee, are meeting in Montreal with members of the AFN Chiefs Committee on Economic Development to discuss the importance of trade to First Nations economic growth, participation in the labour force and inter-tribal trade.

Regional Chief Teegee stated, “Our involvement in NAFTA sets an important precedent for any future discussions of this kind. Indigenous peoples and rights are becoming a new area of discussions in national and international trade negotiations, and Canada is putting itself at the forefront of this work. This is a positive approach, and our involvement will lead to a better outcome for First Nations and all Canadians.”

National Chief Bellegarde was approached in July 2017 to participate on the NAFTA Council to advise the Minister of Foreign Affairs directly throughout the NAFTA negotiations. This is the first time an AFN National Chief has been asked by Canada to participate in international trade agreements and sets an important precedent.

AFN Annual General Assembly resolution #32/2017, First Nations Trade Relations, provides direction to the AFN, affirms First Nations inherent right to trade, and mandates efforts to advocate for First Nations economic growth and the development of options to secure greater economic independence.

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
343-540-6179 (cell)
[email protected]

Jenna Young Castro
Communications Officer
613-241-6789 ext. 201
[email protected]

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Angie TurnerFirst Nations Leaders Join National Chief Bellegarde in Montreal to Support Indigenous Peoples Chapter in NAFTA Negotiations

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Congratulates New AFN Yukon Interim Regional Chief Kluane Adamek

on January 18, 2018

January 18, 2018

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde congratulates Kluane Adamek who was appointed by Yukon First Nation Chiefs as the AFN Yukon Interim Regional Chief on January 17, 2018.

“I congratulate Kluane Adamek on her appointment and welcome her to the AFN Executive Committee,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “I have known Interim Regional Chief Adamek for many years and I look forward to working together to pursue priorities for First Nations in the Yukon and First Nations across the country.  Her strong voice, leadership and dedication to issues like education, the environment, economic development, child and youth development, and governance will help advance our priorities on a national level.”

Interim Regional Chief Adamek previously represented Yukon interests at the AFN as the territory’s representative to both the AFN Chiefs Committee on Education and the AFN Youth Council.  She was the Director of Government Relations for Northwestel, the largest telecommunications company in the North, and has worked for the Yukon Government’s cabinet office. Interim Regional Chief Adamek is the founder of Our Voices, a collective of northern Indigenous emerging leaders. In 2017 she was selected to participate in the Governor General’s Leadership Conference. Interim Regional Chief Adamek is a citizen of Kluane First Nation.

 

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

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For media requests or more information, please contact:

Jamie Monastyrski
Press Secretary – National Chief’s Office
613-241-6789 ext 116
343-540-6179 (cell)
[email protected]

Jenna Young Castro
AFN Communications Officer
613-241-6789 ext 201
613-314-8157 (cell)
[email protected]

read more
Roy WhiteduckAFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Congratulates New AFN Yukon Interim Regional Chief Kluane Adamek
Assembly of First Nations
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