News

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde and Prime Minister Trudeau Sign Agreement to Ensure Progress on First Nations Priorities

on July 16, 2017

June 12, 2017 

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau committing to regular, ongoing engagement between First Nations and the Government of Canada to ensure progress and momentum on First Nations priorities.

“This commitment to meet at least three times a year with one of those meetings being chaired by the Prime Minister will help ensure that the government’s priorities are consistent with First Nations priorities,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. “First Nations will set direction for these meetings and the AFN will ensure we are making progress on an agenda as determined by First Nations. This is about action and results for First Nations, which will benefit all Canadians.”

The “Assembly of First Nations – Canada Memorandum of Understanding on Joint Priorities” was signed today by National Chief Bellegarde and Prime Minister Trudeau on unceded Algonquin Territory in Ottawa. These meetings will be used to mark progress on priorities and to identify key issues and solutions to barriers facing First Nations in advancing their rights and objectives. The priorities under the MOU will be reviewed on an annual basis.

During National Chief Bellegarde’s term, for the first time ever a sitting Prime Minister addressed the Chiefs-in-Assembly. This has now happened on two separate occasions. AFN Assemblies and AFN Executive Meetings regularly feature involvement from senior Cabinet ministers and officials.

“First Nations need to be engaging on a regular basis with the key people making federal laws and policies in order to affect and implement proper changes that respect inherent Indigenous and Treaty rights,” said National Chief Bellegarde.

The MOU can be viewed on the AFN website at www.afn.ca

 

 

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
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
jordyAssembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde and Prime Minister Trudeau Sign Agreement to Ensure Progress on First Nations Priorities

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde Marks World Environment Day

on July 16, 2017

June 5, 2017

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today marked World Environment Day, reminding everyone of the contributions First Nations have made and continue to make as stewards of the land and the need for First Nations to be involved in all efforts to protect, sustain and respect the environment. 

“World Environment Day is an opportunity to strengthen our commitment to protect Mother Earth and our waters,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “Our planet is in crisis. As we move away from a carbon economy and towards cleaner, greener energy, all discussions about the environment nationally and internationally must respect and uphold our rights, and recognize our traditional knowledge. We look forward to bringing our experience and knowledge to the COP 23 meeting in Germany later this year. For First Nations, every day is environment day.”

AFN continues to play a leadership role on the environment and meets regularly with federal officials and international organizations, as well as ensuring First Nations have a voice in discussions, planning and implementation on environmental matters. The AFN Elders Council and the AFN’s Advisory Committee on Climate Action and the Environment (ACCAE) met last week with the Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honorable Catherine McKenna, and senior federal officials to discuss the environmental and regulatory reviews.

AFN NWT Regional Chief Bill Erasmus, Co-Chair of the ACCAE said, “Any approach to environment and climate change must respect First Nations treaties, title and jurisdiction and recognize our responsibilities to our territories. We are closest to the land and we are the first to feel the impacts of climate change. Canada has given its unqualified support for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and that must inform all decisions and activities, particularly given what is happening south of our border.”

World Environment Day, a global celebration of nature, is observed each year on June 5. This year’s theme is “Connecting people to nature”.

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

―30―

For more information, please contact:  

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

Jamie Monastyrski, Press Secretary – National Chief’s Office, 613-241-6789 ext. 222; 343-540-6179 (cell) jamiem@afn.ca

read more
jordyAssembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde Marks World Environment Day

AFN BULLETIN – Significant Amendments to the Indian Act Appear to Be Imminent: Make Your Voices Heard

on July 16, 2017

June 5, 2017

Significant Amendments to the Indian Act Appear to be Imminent – Make Your Voices Heard 

Beginning the week of June 5th, the House of Commons will be studying and then moving to clause-by-clause consideration of Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Indian Act (elimination of sex-based inequities in registration). This Bill would have significant impacts for many individuals seeking entitlement to registration as well as First Nations and especially those whose membership is determined by section 11 of the Indian Act.

The proposed legislation in S-3 arose in response to an August 3, 2015 court decision of the Quebec Superior Court of Justice called Descheneaux. This case found there is still gender-based discrimination in the determination of entitlement to Indian status and band membership. The Court declared sections 6(1) (a), (c), (f) and 6(2) of the Indian Act violated section 15 of the Charter and are unconstitutional.

The court ordered the federal government to pass legislation to address the issues of residual gender-based discrimination found in this case by July 3, 2017. If amendments to the Indian Act are not made by this date, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) will not have the authority to register individuals applying for Indian status or band membership entitlement in Québec, and possibly other provinces and territories as well. 

To respond to this deadline, the government introduced Bill S-3 in October 2016. On November 23, 2016, National Chief Bellegarde and Deputy Grand Chief Stonefish, Chair of the AFN Women’s Council, appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs and the Senate Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples to speak to the original amendments first introduced by the government.  The AFN’s submission noted that Canada’s continued imposition of a two-parent rule combined with the hierarchy of status transmission established by previous amendments to the Indian Act – now set out in s. 6(1) and s. 6(2) – lies at the heart of ongoing sex-based discrimination. National Chief Bellegarde called on Canada to go back to court to seek an extension and to make greater efforts to meet its legal obligations. This was done and Parliamentary hearings on S-3 resumed.

On May 9, 2017, National Chief Bellegarde appeared before the Senate Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples to again speak to issues raised by Bill S-3.  The government’s original amendments were intended to address three forms of gender-based discrimination found in Descheneaux: (a) first cousins whose grandmother lost status due to marriage; (b) women who were born out of wedlock between September 4, 1951 and April 17, 1985; and (c) minor children who were born of Indian parents, but lost entitlement to Indian status because their mother re-married a non-Indian after their birth.

The National Chief’s submission supported the elimination of sex or gender-based discrimination, and he indicated the Indian Act, at its core, cannot be fixed. He reminded the Committee of the standard required by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples respecting free, prior and Informed consent for any legislative measures. National Chief Bellegarde also spoke to the need for additional financial resources to provide essential government services to new registrants, as well as the need for additional reservation land entitlements to account for increases in new members. He encouraged First Nations to assert their inherent jurisdiction over all matters respecting First Nations citizenship.

The Senate Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples approved an amendment proposed by Senator Marilou McPhedran that would go much further than that proposed by INAC by extending entitlement back generations. On June 1, 2017, the Senate accepted this amendment and S-3 was passed with a clause commonly called “6(1)(a) all the way.” The intent of this provision would be to give entitlement to all direct descendants of individuals born prior to April 17, 1985 and previously entitled to be considered Indians under previous Indian Acts. The Bill is now in the House of Commons for consideration.

There are concerns that the amendment introduced in the Senate is not drafted clearly enough to achieve its intended purpose. There also is no clear understanding of the demographic or financial implications of the motion or any real sense of how many persons may be entitled to be registered (some estimates range from 60,000 to 2 million). INAC has taken the position that it would be irresponsible for the Government to adopt this amendment without adequate information and consultation with First Nations. However, some First Nations have expressed support for the amendments made by the Senate.

At the December 2016 Special Chiefs Assembly, Resolution 71/2016 was adopted calling on Canada to repeal section 6 in favour of First Nations’ authority over First Nations’ citizenship and identity. This resolution also calls on Canada to withdraw Bill S-3 and to meet its constitutional obligations under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 to consult and accommodate before re-introducing any legislation.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

  • The AFN has developed a template citizenship law for First Nations who seek a resource to assist in asserting jurisdiction in this area. This template will be available for download shortly on the AFN website. In the meantime you may contact AFN General Counsel Stuart Wuttke to obtain a copy at swuttke@afn.ca.
  • If you wish to communicate your position on S-3 directly to Canada, First Nations governments can contact the Chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs, MaryAnne Mihychuk, M.P., care of Grant McLaughlin, Clerk of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs at grant.mclaughlin@parl.gc.ca and to the Minister of Indigenous Affairs, the Hon. Carolyn Bennett at carolyn.bennett@parl.gc.ca
read more
jordyAFN BULLETIN – Significant Amendments to the Indian Act Appear to Be Imminent: Make Your Voices Heard

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Marks TRC Report Anniversary – Calls for Faster Results

on July 16, 2017

June 2, 2017

(Ottawa, ON) – On the second year anniversary of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) Calls to Action, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today said the work of reconciliation must accelerate.

“The past two years has seen a great response from all levels of government and from Canadians who have embraced reconciliation, but change is not happening fast enough,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “We are still too far from completing these very important Calls to Action. The socio-economic gap between First Nations and Canadians remains vast. We must work more quickly, because too many First Nations remain without clean drinking water and adequate housing, and too many of our children are taken and poorly served by discriminatory child welfare systems.”

The National Chief added, “The framework needed has been clearly identified by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and promised by the Government of Canada. That is the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. That is our framework for change. Canada’s commitment to work with us to co-develop an Indigenous Languages Act to revitalize and preserve the original languages of this land is an important measure of progress. We need to do the same on implementation of the UN Declaration. It’s work that should not wait.”

On June 2, 2015 the TRC released 94 “calls to action” on priorities for action, including child welfare, justice, education health and the call for an MMIW Inquiry. The full final report was released December 15, 2015 and completed the work of the TRC which was mandated in the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement of 2007. The findings followed six years of hearing testimony from more than 7,000 former residential school students from across the country.

The AFN is a party to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement that led to the creation of the TRC. The federal government has committed to working with First Nations and Indigenous peoples to implement the Calls to Action. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has stated that true reconciliation goes beyond the scope of the Calls to Action and has pledged to work with First Nations, Indigenous leaders, provinces and territories and all key parties to design a national engagement strategy for developing and implementing a national reconciliation framework, informed by the TRC’s recommendations.

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

―30―

For more information, please contact:

 

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

Jamie Monastyrski
Press Secretary – National Chief’s Office
613-241-6789 ext. 222
343-540-6179 (cell)
jamiem@afn.ca

read more
jordyAFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Marks TRC Report Anniversary – Calls for Faster Results

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Encourages all Canadians to Celebrate First Nation Cultures and Languages in Recognition of National Aboriginal History Month

on July 16, 2017

June 1, 2017 

(Ottawa, ON) – The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde encourages First Nations and all Canadians to take part in cultural events and other celebrations in honour of National Aboriginal History Month held every June and National Aboriginal Day on June 21. 

“National Aboriginal History Month gives Canadians an opportunity to learn about their Indigenous neighbours and build a new relationship that is based on understanding and a mutual desire for a positive future. Education on First Nations, history, rights and Treaties can help build a foundation for positive change for all of us,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “As Canadians celebrate their 150th year as a nation, let’s join together to learn about First Nation cultures, languages and traditions as well as the many contributions First Nations peoples have made to Canada’s history. The movement across the country of acknowledging traditional territory is a simple and honourable way to respect the past and teach new generations about history. But we also want Canadians to learn that despite the genocide from the residential school system, in spite of the colonization and control of the Indian Act, and everything we have endured as First Nations Peoples, we are still here, we are getting stronger and we are getting louder.” 

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde recently sent a letter to the Prime Minister, proposing that the words “Indigenous Peoples” replace “Aboriginal” in the name of National Aboriginal Day and National Aboriginal History Month. This would bring it in line with the current terms used by the United Nations. In 2013, Chiefs-in-Assembly passed a resolution calling for the Government of Canada to declare June 21 a National Holiday known as Indigenous Peoples Day. 

The term “Aboriginal” refers to the three distinct Indigenous peoples in Canada – First Nations, Métis and Inuit.  In connection with the summer solstice, special events and gatherings take place across the country celebrating First Nation, Métis and Inuit contributions and accomplishments, cultures, traditions and languages. 

National Aboriginal History Month is recognized by the federal government every June in an effort to celebrate the contributions of Indigenous peoples in Canada.  The notion of a national holiday celebrating the Indigenous peoples in Canada was called for by AFN in 1982.  A day already known by many as National Aboriginal Solidarity Day was formally recognized by the federal government as National Aboriginal Day in 1996.

 

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

 

-30-

 

Contact information: 

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
jordyAFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Encourages all Canadians to Celebrate First Nation Cultures and Languages in Recognition of National Aboriginal History Month

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde Supports Rally for the Peace River Valley: Indigenous and Treaty Rights Must Be Honoured in Proposed Site C Dam Project

on July 16, 2017

May 29, 2017

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde stands with First Nations in Treaty 8 and all those participating today in the Rally for the Peace River Valley on Parliament Hill calling for a halt to the proposed Site C dam and respect for First Nations rights. 

“The federal governments’ approach to the Site C dam project in British Columbia is contrary to our rights in Canada’s own Constitution and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. “The review process was flawed and the environmental impact assessment said clearly that the Site C dam will undermine Indigenous rights and destroy burial sites, farmland, hunting and gathering places and sacred spaces.” 

BC AFN Acting Regional Chief Maureen Chapman said: “There is now an opportunity for a new government in British Columbia to work with us, to correct a faulty decision-making process and ensure that First Nations rights are respected and upheld. We will continue to push for a new approach to development that respects our people and our traditional territories.” 

Participants in today’s rally in Ottawa are urging the federal government to break its silence and commit to honouring and upholding the Treaty rights of affected First Nations. Treaty 8 First Nations have taken legal action to overturn approvals of the controversial hydroelectric dam project that will flood thousands of acres of their traditional territories and prevent them from exercising their rights. The Site C project, if built, will worsen impacts from existing large-scale hydroelectric development in the region and further devastate traditional First Nations territory.  

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.

―30―

For more information, please contact: 

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
jordyAssembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde Supports Rally for the Peace River Valley: Indigenous and Treaty Rights Must Be Honoured in Proposed Site C Dam Project

National Chief Perry Bellegarde Says Canada Must Act Now to Protect First Nations Children and Implement Jordan’s Principle

on July 16, 2017

May 26, 2017 

(Ottawa, ON) –Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde calls on the federal government to act immediately on today’s Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling to ensure safety, fairness and equity for First Nations children. 

“The ruling says simply and clearly that all First Nations children deserve to be treated fairly,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal has echoed what the AFN has been saying since we first filed this complaint more than 10 years ago: First Nations children deserve the same services that are available to all other children. We believe all Canadians support that approach. We should not have to continually go back to the Tribunal to get the government and bureaucracy to comply.” 

Today’s ruling by the Tribunal focuses on Canada’s implementation of Jordan’s Principle. Jordan’s Principle, named in memory of Jordan River Anderson, calls on all governments to ensure First Nations children can access government services on the same basis as other children. 

The ruling finds that Canada is taking an overly narrow approach to honouring Jordan’s Principle. It states that Jordan’s Principle applies to all First Nations children in need of care, regardless of where they reside. The ruling sets out a number of directives and timelines for Canada to comply with Jordan’s Principle. 

“We welcome the clear orders and timelines in the ruling,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “We need immediate action and we will hold Canada to these commitments and continue to work to ensure safety, fairness and equity for our children.” 

The ruling follows two previous non-compliance orders 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 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. 

 

 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
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
mhutchinson@afn.ca

read more
jordyNational Chief Perry Bellegarde Says Canada Must Act Now to Protect First Nations Children and Implement Jordan’s Principle

National Chief Perry Bellegarde Says Clear Communication with Family Members is Essential in Ensuring the Success of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

on July 16, 2017

May 23, 2017 

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde supports the many families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls who have expressed their growing frustration with the National Inquiry. 

Family members and the AFN have continually made strong, clear calls for action and justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women and their families. National Chief Bellegarde expressed concerns in an open letter last October regarding the lack of communication with families and First Nations in general. The letter then urged the Commissioners to immediately reach out to clearly communicate the plans and timing for the national inquiry to First Nations, Indigenous peoples and organizations, and, most of all, the families. National Chief Bellegarde invited Commissioners on three occasions to meet with First Nations leaders, women, youth and Elders, many of whom have been directly affected by this tragedy. Those invitations have all been declined. 

“Clear communication and outreach to family members are essential to rebuild trust and ensure the National Inquiry is a success,” National Chief Bellegarde said. “Survivors, family members and members of the public rightfully expect transparency on the part of  Inquiry Commissioner’s regarding their plans and timelines. We look forward to increased communication as promised in the Open Letter released by Commissioner Buller on May 19.” 

When the launch of the National Inquiry was announced, many family members were hopeful that the Inquiry process would result in justice for the victims and an opportunity for family members to be heard and to heal. 

In recent weeks, family members, First Nations and First Nation leadership have expressed serious concerns about the on-going delays and lack of transparency on the part of the National Inquiry. National Chief Bellegarde maintains that the Inquiry must take a “families first” approach in all its work, based on respect for survivors and family members, and the values of communication and openness.  The AFN is guided by the voices of the family members who fought long and hard for the National Inquiry to become a reality. 

“Survivors, family members, and all Indigenous women and girls have the right to expect better in the protection of their basic human rights to safety and security,” said National Chief Bellegarde

 

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
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

read more
jordyNational Chief Perry Bellegarde Says Clear Communication with Family Members is Essential in Ensuring the Success of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
Assembly of First Nations
    ×