News

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Says New Bank Note Honoring Senator James Gladstone Highlights First Nations Contributions as Nation Builders

on July 16, 2017

April 7, 2017

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today attended the unveiling of a new Bank of Canada $10 commemorative note that recognizes Senator James Gladstone, the first status Indian to be appointed to the Senate of Canada in January 1958.

AFN National Chief Bellegarde stated: “I lift up the Bank of Canada for honouring Senator Gladstone and highlighting the contributions of First Nations people as nation builders. Efforts like this help to educate all Canadians about our shared history, and education is important to achieving our goal of reconciliation. This is a year to dedicate ourselves to understanding our history and our original relationship of partnership and sharing. We must all commit ourselves to restoring it, so we can move forward together. Today, we remember Senator Gladstone’s accomplishments and his commitment to our people, and we join in celebration with his family and his nation.”

Senator James Gladstone, a member of the Blood Reserve in Alberta, was appointed to the Senate of Canada in January 1958. The commemorative bank note unveiled today also includes portraits of Sir John A. Macdonald, Sir George-Étienne Cartier and Agnes Macphail. This polymer $10 note will be in circulation by June 1, 2017.

 

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

 

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Media contact: 

Alain Garon AFN Bilingual Communications Officer 613-292-0857 or agaron@afn.ca

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jordyAFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Says New Bank Note Honoring Senator James Gladstone Highlights First Nations Contributions as Nation Builders

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Marks World Health Day by Celebrating the Strength and Resilience of First Nations

on July 16, 2017

April 7, 2017

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde said that World Health Day, marked on April 7 with this year’s theme being “Depression”, is an opportunity to use this day to focus on life promotion and First Nations strengths and resilience. The time has come to end the stigma around mental health and focus on mental wellness.

“We are all on the journey to wellness together,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “Today, reach out to a friend or family member and remind them how important they are to you. We need to support one another, and as First Nations we need to support our languages and cultures. A strong sense of identity is directly connected to better health. I urge anyone who feels they need help to talk to a friend, family, Elder or someone you trust and tell them how you feel. Depression affects many people and this can be your first step to healing and wellness.”

The National Chief noted that Indigenous experts speaking at the recent World Congress on Public Health in Melbourne, Australia, stated that strengthening Indigenous cultures would reduce suicide rates amongst Indigenous youth worldwide.

In Canada, First Nations experience significantly higher rates of mental health challenges than the general population. This disparity can be explained, in part, by unique contextual factors that influence mental health in those communities, such as the effects of colonialism and more difficult access to health services.

The 2008–2010 First Nations Regional Health Survey (RHS) found that approximately half of on-reserve First Nations experience moderate to high levels of psychological distress, a term used to measure an individual’s level of anxiety and depression. Comparatively, one third of the general population experiences similar levels of psychological distress.

World Health Day is a global health awareness day marked every year on April 7 under the sponsorship of the World Health Organization.

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

 

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Media contact:

 

Alain Garon, AFN Bilingual Communications Officer, 613-292-0857 or agaron@afn.ca  

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jordyAFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Marks World Health Day by Celebrating the Strength and Resilience of First Nations

Senator Lynn Beyak – The Senate of Canada

on July 16, 2017

March 31, 2017 

Senator Lynn Beyak
The Senate of Canada
OTTAWA ON  K1A 0A4

Senator Beyak:

I am writing to express my serious and sincere concern over your recent and ongoing remarks regarding the Indian residential schools.  When your remarks were first reported, my initial reaction was that this was a learning opportunity for you and all Canadians.  Reconciliation requires truth, and truth requires education about our shared history.

Your recent comments, however, indicate you are not willing to pursue the necessary education and are standing by your entrenched views.  This is deeply disturbing coming from any Canadian but, frankly, shocking coming from a Senator who is a member of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples.

All Canadians need more education about the Indian residential schools and the impact they had on generations of First Nations children and families because we are still dealing with those impacts today.  This is why your remarks are so deeply hurtful to our people.

My generation experienced the impacts of the residential schools.  So many of our parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins were torn from loving families and placed in institutions dedicated to teaching them that their beautiful languages and cultures were primitive and inferior, and must be eradicated.  That alone would be harm enough, but add to this the rampant physical and sexual abuse in the schools.  Add to this the pain, suffering and trauma felt by parents and families who had their young ones ripped away from them for months, years at a time.  We know now some of these little children were victims of medical experiments.  We know now thousands never came back at all and lay in unmarked graves.  I cannot do justice to the full impacts of the Indian residential schools in this letter, but I will ask:  how would you feel if your children or grandchildren were taken from you by force and treated this way?

You may have met people who speak positively of their time in the schools but I assure you, as someone who travels this country and visits with our people in hundreds of communities, they are a tiny minority in a vast sea of survivors and those who did not survive.

You lack the knowledge and sensitivities to deal with the issues or people that may come before you.  For that reason, we call on you to resign from the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples and use that time away from your duties to embark on a serious and committed process of education and understanding. 

I strongly encourage you to meet directly with residential school survivors – hear their stories, ask them questions.  I would be pleased to facilitate these meetings and I know they can be conducted in a respectful manner based on the values of sharing, education and reconciliation.  Please let me know as soon as possible when we can set-up these meetings and we will work to do so.

In the interim, I am enclosing a copy of A National Crime: The Canadian Government and the Residential School System, 1879 to 1986 by respected researcher John S. Milloy.  It is a heavily researched book that draws on archives, official reports and other sources.  It does not rely on anecdotal experience and personal impressions.  This book will help you begin to understand the history, intent, impacts and legacy of the Indian residential schools.  I encourage you as well to read the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

I urge you to open your heart and mind to reconciliation.  I urge you to work to understand the reality of the Indian residential schools.  I urge you to talk to survivors.  I urge you to make a genuine commitment to learn the truth on behalf of your constituents and all Canadians.  And until such time as this work is underway, I urge you to step down from your position on the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples.

Sincerely,

Perry Bellegarde
National Chief

c.c.:     Senator Lillian Eva Dyck
            Chair, Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples
            Senator Larry Smith
            Leader of the Opposition and Conservative Caucus

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jordySenator Lynn Beyak – The Senate of Canada

AFN Releases Survey on National Aboriginal Languages Day Showing Majority of Canadians Support Efforts to Preserve, Protect and Revitalize Indigenous Languages

on July 16, 2017

March 31, 2017

(Ottawa, ON) – On March 31, National Aboriginal Languages Day, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde released results of a national survey showing that the majority of Canadians support legislation to preserve, protect and revitalize Indigenous languages in Canada.

“It is important and encouraging that the majority of Canadians understand the need to promote and revitalize Indigenous languages,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “Under the Indian Act and through the residential schools, Canada deliberately tried to eradicate Indigenous languages. We must undo the damage done. Our languages are national treasures spoken nowhere else. They are a shared part of our history and an essential element of our right to self-determination. We can work together to support and strengthen our languages, and we must start now.”

There are currently more than 50 Indigenous languages being spoken in Canada, but only three are predicted to survive unless there is drastic action. The survey, conducted by Nanos Research, found that nearly three quarters of Canadians (74%) support the creation of an Indigenous Languages Act with the goal of ensuring the preservation, protection and revitalization of Indigenous languages in Canada. The most common reason given for this support was that language is important to culture and identity.

Following strong advocacy by the AFN and National Chief Bellegarde, the Prime Minister stated at the AFN Special Chiefs Assembly in December 2016 that he would commit to co-developing an Indigenous Languages Act with Indigenous peoples to ensure the “preservation, protection, and revitalization of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit languages in this country.” Budget 2017 included funding to support Indigenous languages.

National Chief Bellegarde stated: “I want to hear our Elders whisper the ancient words of the ancestors into the ears of our babies. I want to see our young people speaking our languages on school playgrounds. To Indigenous people, wherever you are, I encourage you to seek out our fluent speakers and learn from them. Insist on your right to have your local languages taught in the schools systems and keep working at being able to speak your language.”

National Aboriginal Languages Day was established by AFN Chiefs-in-Assembly in 1989 to create awareness across Canada of the languages of the First Peoples, and to build support for their preservation.

Nanos conducted an RDD dual frame (land- and cell- lines) hybrid telephone and online random survey of 1,000 Canadians, 18 years of age or older, between February 25th and 28th, 2017. The margin of error for a random survey of 1,000 Canadians is ±3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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:

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

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jordyAFN Releases Survey on National Aboriginal Languages Day Showing Majority of Canadians Support Efforts to Preserve, Protect and Revitalize Indigenous Languages

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde on U.S. Approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline

on July 16, 2017

March 24, 2017

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde issued the following statement in response to the announcement by United States President Donald Trump that his administration has approved the Keystone XL pipeline:

“This is an important moment to remind Canadians that First Nations hold inherent rights and Treaty rights recognized in Canada’s constitution and remind governments everywhere that we hold rights in international law, including the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which both Canada and the United States support. This includes the right to free, prior and informed consent over any activities that could affect our lands, our lives or our futures. Governments must respect and honour these rights, just as First Nations will work to ensure that they are upheld.”

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:  

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

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jordyAFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde on U.S. Approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline

22/3/17 AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Says Second Serious Installment to Close the Gap, Must Lead to Real Change Faster

on July 16, 2017

March 22, 2017

(Ottawa, ON) – Budget 2017 makes important and positive investments to help close the socio-economic gap for First Nations, but these investments must lead to real change, faster, says Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde. Today’s budget allocates $3.4 billion for Indigenous peoples priorities over five years.

“The positive investments in this budget have to lead to positive results for our children and families,” said National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “First Nations have worked hard to secure key investments in the last two budgets. The need is to see change on the ground. For that, the system must move more quickly and efficiently. I’ll be happy when the gap is finally closed and First Nations enjoy the same quality of life as other Canadians. First Nations can help this government deliver results because we know better than anyone the needs and priorities for our peoples. We can work together to deliver those results and we have to move now.”

The 2017 federal budget unveiled today, titled Building a Strong Middle Class, continues critical investments and support for First Nations in a number of areas including housing and infrastructure, education and training, policing, and health. The budget also referenced the Prime Minister’s commitment, made at the AFN 2016 Special Chiefs Assembly, to co-develop an Indigenous Languages Act and the 2017 budget commits resources to enhance, support and archive Indigenous languages.

National Chief Bellegarde added: “The new investments for Indigenous languages are critical because language is directly connected to the health of our children and the health of our nations. First Nations are the youngest and fastest growing population, representing tremendous opportunity and potential in a society that is aging. Our young people are key to a strong Canada, now and in the future.”

 

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:

Alain Garon
Bilingual Communications Officer
613-292-0857
agaron@afn.ca

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jordy22/3/17 AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Says Second Serious Installment to Close the Gap, Must Lead to Real Change Faster

On World Water Day, AFN National Chief Stands with Yukon First Nations at Supreme Court

on July 15, 2017

March 22, 2017

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today spoke on the steps of the Supreme Court of Canada to mark World Water Day and to support the Yukon First Nations who are in Ottawa to witness the hearing of their landmark case involving the Peel River watershed, First Nation of Nacho Nyak Dun, et al. v. Government of Yukon. A traditional water ceremony was held on the steps of the Supreme Court. 

“On World Water Day, First Nations stand together to support our rights and our responsibilities to our traditional territories,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “As peoples with the right to self-determination, we have the right to be involved in any decisions that affect our lives, our lands and waters. The Assembly of First Nations stands with the Na-cho Nyak Dun First Nation, Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in and Vuntut Gwich’in and calls on the Crown to respect their rights to their traditional territories and their constitutionally protected rights under these modern Treaties.” 

The National Chief joined Yukon First Nations leaders, citizens and supporters at the steps of the Supreme Court of Canada this morning where a traditional water ceremony was conducted by Algonquin Elder Kathleen Deschenes-Cayer from Kitigan Zibi and Rapid Lake First Nations. The ceremony was held in advance of today’s Supreme Court hearing. 

The Peel watershed region covers more than 68,000 square kilometres of largely pristine wilderness in northern Yukon. It is a special habitat for fish, wildlife and waterfowl, and a source of food and clean water. The First Nations provided recommendations to a Land Use Planning Commission established under their land claim agreement. This Commission approved a land use plan that would have protected about 80% of the region. However, in 2012, the Yukon Government introduced its own plan that would only protect about 30% of the area. Two lower court rulings agreed with the First Nations and their supporters, calling the government’s actions a breach of Treaty obligations. The case has now made its way to the Supreme Court of Canada. 

First Nations across the country unanimously conveyed their support for the Yukon First Nations in the Peel River Watershed case through AFN resolution 69/2016 passed at the AFN 2016 Annual General Assembly. 

In 1993, the United Nations General Assembly officially designated March 22 as World Water Day. The Sustainable Development Goals, launched in 2015, include a target to ensure everyone has access to safe water by 2030.

 

 

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: 

Alain Garon
Bilingual Communications Officer
613-292-0857
agaron@afn.ca

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jordyOn World Water Day, AFN National Chief Stands with Yukon First Nations at Supreme Court

Assembly of First Nations Invites Public to Ottawa Event for the National Circle of Ceremony and Healing for Our Spirits on Friday, March 17

on July 15, 2017

March 16, 2017

MEDIA ADVISORY

(Ottawa, ON): To gather collective strength and spiritual support in response to the ongoing national suicide crisis facing First Nations people, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is organizing the National Circle of Ceremony and Healing for Our Spirits on Friday, March 17th. Events are being planned across the country to inspire youth and all First Nations, with an event in Ottawa being held at Victoria Island starting at 9 a.m.

Event:
National Circle of Ceremony and Healing for Our Spirits 

Date:
Friday, March 17, 2017 

Location:
Victoria Island, Algonquin Territory 

Time:
9:00 a.m.
Fire keeper Sheldon McGregor of Kitigan Zibi
Anishinabeg First Nation lights Sacred Fire

9:15 a.m.
Prayer in honour of day, Pipe Carrier Chief Bear Joel Babin of Wahgoshig First Nation

9:20 a.m.
Pipe Ceremony, Chief Bear Joel Babin of Wahgoshig First Nation

9:40 a.m.
Drum Group Eagle River of Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation

The Sacred Fire will continue throughout the day until 4 p.m. Those who cannot attend the morning ceremony are invited to come to the Sacred Fire and make an offering, say a prayer, or mark the day in a manner consistent with their beliefs.

Media are invited to attend the event. Elders and helpers will advise if any portions of the ceremony cannot be recorded, broadcast or photographed.

On March 17, AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde will honour the National Circle of Ceremony and Healing for Our Spirits at a pipe ceremony and traditional feast in Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan.

For more information, visit www.afn.ca and the National Circle of Ceremony and Healing for Our Spirits Event page on the AFN Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/383185508717335/

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

 

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For more information, please contact:

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

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jordyAssembly of First Nations Invites Public to Ottawa Event for the National Circle of Ceremony and Healing for Our Spirits on Friday, March 17

AFN National Chief in Saskatchewan for Tour at Royal Saskatchewan Museum and National Circle of Ceremony and Healing for Our Spirits Day

on July 15, 2017

March 15, 2017 

(Regina, SK) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde, Treaty 4 chiefs and historian John S. Milloy will be making a visit to view the Chief Paskwa Pictograph at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum on March 16, 2017 at 9:40 a.m. 

There will be a photo opportunity as well as an opportunity for members of the media to speak with National Chief Bellegarde. 

The Chief Paskwa Pictograph is an important piece of First Nations history. It is a two-panel graphite drawing that depicts the only known historical Indigenous perspective of Treaty Four. The visit will be led by Evelyn Siegfried, Curator. 

On Friday, National Chief Bellegarde will travel to Fort Qu’Appelle to participate in the National Circle of Ceremony and Healing for Our Spirits, a day of prayer and ceremony to bring peace and healing in the face of the ongoing national suicide crisis facing First Nations people. 

As part of this national event, the AFN is asking Indigenous peoples and all Canadians to participate in the National Circle on March 17th by praying or performing ceremonies according to their own beliefs, faiths and customs. The intention is to inspire youth to embrace life. 

 

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 and information please contact: 

Ian Capstick
613-873-7746

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jordyAFN National Chief in Saskatchewan for Tour at Royal Saskatchewan Museum and National Circle of Ceremony and Healing for Our Spirits Day
Assembly of First Nations
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