News

AFN National Chief Bellegarde Says Speech from the Throne continues work toward reconciliation

on September 23, 2020

(Ottawa, ON) – National Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations said today’s Speech from the Throne builds on the important steps initially announced in 2019, and adds new commitments to improving the lives of First Nations through better infrastructure, policing and other key issues.

“Today’s Speech from the Throne promised to maintain the important commitments made in the 2019 Speech with additional specifics on infrastructure, housing, policing as an essential service, and a number of other items,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “First Nations support action on the climate crisis, new legislation ensuring the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and narrowing the gap in the quality of life between our people and the rest of the Canada. We must now ensure these commitments are reflected in the mandate letters from the Prime Minister to his ministers, and that they are then carried forward into the next federal budget.”

“We must continue to work together based on the foundation of the Treaty relationship, which is all about partnership, mutual respect and sharing to ensure that legislative and policy changes are done in the right way. Of course, this is happening during a pandemic, which makes the work more difficult, but efforts on reconciliation must continue for the sake of First Nations and Canada alike.”

Today’s Speech from the Throne contained several commitments that involve and affect First Nations, including the promise to work jointly with First Nations on legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; continuing work on safe drinking water and eliminating all long-term drinking water advisories; high-quality, culturally relevant health care and mental health services; the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, and the Calls for Justice of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. National Chief Bellegarde advocated for First Nations policing to be deemed an essential service, with legislation to support its proper resourcing, so the AFN welcomes the mention today.

The AFN outlined its priorities during the 2019 election in its Honouring Promises document, which can be found here: http://www.afn.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/19-09-09-AFN-Honouring-Promises_Fe.pdf

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

For more information please contact:

Michael Hutchinson
Interim Communications Director
Assembly of First Nations
613-859-6831 (cell)
[email protected]

Karen Joyner
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-292-0857 (cell)
[email protected]

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Sid LeeAFN National Chief Bellegarde Says Speech from the Throne continues work toward reconciliation

AFN National Chief Bellegarde urges governments to review recent, impartial study on how to properly fund First Nations child and family services

on September 10, 2020

(Ottawa, ON) – National Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) welcomes today’s release of a study by the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy (IFSD) that outlines an effective and fair bottom-up approach to funding First Nations child and family services.

“How First Nations child and family services are funded will have a direct effect on Canada’s promise to bring change to the tragedy faced by tens of thousands of First Nations children in government care and their families. This report by the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy outlines a bottom-up approach towards understanding the needs of First Nations children and families, and how to fund the services that support them, that puts the well-being of the child at the forefront,” National Chief Bellegarde said. “This study will form the baseline of the AFN’s advocacy to Ministers when it comes to improving child and family well-being and affirming First Nations authority over the social programs that support their families.”

A requisite of An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families (the Act) is to determine funding alternatives that address long term positive outcomes and substantive equality for First Nations children and families. In alignment with the Act, the new IFSD model also encourages First Nations child and family services agencies to focus on early intervention and prevention services.

As an expert on government funding and policies, the IFSD was asked by the AFN and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society to define a new funding approach and implementation plan for First Nations child and family services. The IFSD released Phase 1 of its research in 2019, identifying the real needs that First Nations child and family services agencies have and analyzing the costs of addressing these needs.

The IFSD’s research highlights that increased support in prevention services will not only reduce the number of First Nations children in care now, but will support long-term positive life outcomes of First Nations, including improving education and employment outcomes. The IFSD’s model measures what First Nations children, families and communities need to thrive, including connection to culture, community engagement and education. This is a marked shift from the current practice based on the number of children in care, which incentivizes the placement of children into care.

AFN Regional Chief for Manitoba, Kevin Hart, said the proposed funding approach also addresses the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal’s orders on long term reform and the need for a funding model that replaces Indigenous Services Canada’s (ISC) discriminatory funding practices.

“Today’s report is the culmination of decades of work of Elders, experts and First Nations leadership who have pushed for better futures for our children,” said Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin Hart, who holds the Social Development portfolio at the AFN. “First Nations children have been subjected to a discriminatory child and family services system for generations. I look forward to taking this report to Canada as the pathway to supporting First Nations children and families to thrive.”

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

For more information:
https://www.afn.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/20-09-09-Backgrounder-Reforming-FNCFS-Funding_Fe.pdf

The “Funding First Nations child and family services: A performance budget approach to well-being” Final Report:
https://www.afn.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/2020-09-09_Final-report_Funding-First-Nations-child-and-family-services.pdf

For more information please contact:

Michael Hutchinson
Interim Communications Director
Assembly of First Nations
613-859-6831 (cell)
[email protected]

Karen Joyner
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-292-0857 (cell)
[email protected]

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Celso CercadoAFN National Chief Bellegarde urges governments to review recent, impartial study on how to properly fund First Nations child and family services

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde sends condolences to Old Crow, YK and the friends and family of Elder Stephen Frost.

on September 7, 2020

(Ottawa, ON) – It is with great sadness that Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde extends his condolences to the loved ones of Elder Stephen Frost Sr. and all those who were taught by his stories and example.

“It is always tragic when family and friends lose an Elder, but a man like Stephen Frost Sr. had an impact that reached farther than most,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde.  “A Vuntut Gwitchin storyteller, historian, dog team racer and trapper, Mr. Frost was an ambassador for the Yukon. In his later years, he loudly warned about Climate Change and the changes that someone who lived as close to the land as he has experienced and witnessed. Mr. Frost is preceded by his wife and the mother of his 11 children, Ethel Frost, who was also a leader within the community and a person of great influence. Old Crow has lost a great and well-loved man. Please know, there are many who share in your sorrow.”

Growing up, Mr. Frost lived largely in the Bluefish River area, but moved to Old Crow, YK, when it was time for he and his wife to raise their children. He truly enjoyed being on the land and was a champion dog team racer and a trapper. In his later years, he loved to share stories from Vuntut Gwitchin history and culture.

Yukon Regional Chief Kluane Adamek also sends her thoughts and condolences to Mr. Frost’s loved ones.

“We stand with the Frost family, Vuntut Gwitchin, Gwitchin Nation, and friends of the late Stephen Frost Sr. as we mourn the loss of a great leader, said Regional Chief Adamek.

“He was a truly extraordinary man who led a remarkable life. He lived through many world changes, but throughout this time he remained steadfast in his commitment to climate action and the protection of the porcupine caribou herd, and Gwitchin culture and way of life. His commitments and actions had a profound impact on his people, and so many of us who live in the North. I will continue to cherish these memories, but what I will miss most of all is his openness and kindness – taking the time to welcome people with a smile and visit over a cup of tea. Mahsi Cho to the Frost family for sharing this special person with us.”

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

For more information please contact:

Michael Hutchinson
Interim Communications Director
Assembly of First Nations
613-859-6831 (cell)
[email protected]

Karen Joyner
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-292-0857 (cell)
[email protected]

 

 

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Angie TurnerAFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde sends condolences to Old Crow, YK and the friends and family of Elder Stephen Frost.

AFN National Chief Bellegarde says Nanos numbers show majority of Canadians see addressing First Nations concerns as a priority, even during a pandemic

on September 7, 2020

(Ottawa, ON) – Today, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is releasing a Nanos poll that shows support for the direction of the AFN’s advocacy and that Canadians give First Nations issues high priority, including supporting improvements in social and economic outcomes. AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde is encouraged by the poll’s numbers.

“These figures prove that most Canadians understand that First Nations need better infrastructure and services to build healthier families; that more resources are needed to better link First Nations to Canada’s economy; and that the United Nations’ Declaration on Indigenous Peoples presents a path towards a better relationship. Almost 80 per cent of Canadians polled say Governments must continue to move forward on First Nations issues because First Nations issues are also a priority for Canadians. This is incredibly encouraging,” said National Chief Bellegarde.

In April 2020, Nanos Research conducted polling for the AFN, surveying 1021 Canadians, 18 years of age or older through both telephone and online surveys. Canadians were asked their views on the relative importance of First Nations issues, and for opinions on the environment, languages, education, economic development, housing, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and lands and treaties.

In general, the figures show governments must continue to move forward on First Nations issues as First Nations issues are also a priority for Canadians. When asked, 79 per cent of Canadians support First Nations issues as a priority for Canada, this opinion was strong even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Canadians are twice as likely to say Canada is doing a better job at addressing Indigenous issues now, as compared to 2015.

For more information see the entire Nanos poll at: Nanos Poll

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

For more information please contact:

Michael Hutchinson
Interim Communications Director
Assembly of First Nations
613-859-6831 (cell)
[email protected]

Karen Joyner
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-292-0857 (cell)
[email protected]

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Angie TurnerAFN National Chief Bellegarde says Nanos numbers show majority of Canadians see addressing First Nations concerns as a priority, even during a pandemic

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Congratulates Newly Elected AFN Regional Chief for Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, Paul Prosper

on September 4, 2020

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde congratulates AFN Regional Chief Paul Prosper who was elected by the First Nation Chiefs in the provinces of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland today.

“Regional Chief Prosper is a welcome addition to the AFN Executive Committee and I congratulate him on his new role,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “As he was the Chief of the Paqtnkek First Nation in Nova Scotia for many years, I have known Regional Chief Prosper for a long time, and I know he is strong voice, with the dedication to his people that is the hallmark of an effective advocate. I look forward to working together with Regional Chief Prosper to pursue the priorities of First Nations in the East as well as First Nations across the country.”

Regional Chief Prosper is Mi’kmaq and has served his people as Chief of the Paqtnkek First Nation since 2013. A lawyer by trade, the Regional Chief has extensive experience working with Canadian and Mi’kmaq law. He has taught Mi’kmaq Governance and Aboriginal and Treaty Rights for Cape Breton University.

Over the years, Regional Chief Prosper has worked with or for numerous First Nations organizations including the Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq, the Nova Scotia Aboriginal Title Project, the Mi’kmaq Legal Support Network, the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of PEI, and as a Legal Advisor for the Treaty & Aboriginal Rights Research Centre of Nova Scotia.

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

For more information please contact:

Michael Hutchinson
Interim Communications Director
Assembly of First Nations
613-859-6831 (cell)
[email protected]

Karen Joyner
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-292-0857 (cell)
[email protected]

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Celso CercadoAFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Congratulates Newly Elected AFN Regional Chief for Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, Paul Prosper

AFN National Chief Bellegarde welcomes Canada’s consent to certification of national class action involving First Nations child and family services, and agreement to proceed to mediation

on September 3, 2020

(Ottawa, ON) – National Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) welcomes Canada’s agreement to the certification of a national class action involving underfunding of First Nations children and families in child welfare, including Jordan’s Principle persons.

“Systemic discrimination against First Nations children is abhorrent. Canada’s decision to work with the AFN and its allies in addressing this tragedy is an important step,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “It is crucial that Canada act in good faith in these upcoming negotiations, provide fair compensation to all those who suffered harm, and implement real change. Only then can we bring closure to this sad chapter in our history.”

The Parties to the class action, including the AFN, and Canada’s legal teams appeared today before a special sitting of the Federal Court of Canada to report on these important steps forward. The Parties and Canada have also agreed to mediation and to try to resolve through negotiation the claims in the class action. The negotiations will also seek a resolution to outstanding matters now before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) involving similar facts and issues.

In addition to those individuals adversely discriminated against by Canada’s child welfare program, Canada’s consent to certification covers a class of Jordan’s Principle persons beginning in 2007, and found to have been the subject of discrimination by the CHRT. The AFN and others will continue to advance a class action involving Jordan’s Principle persons that predates 2007. Potential claimants will continue to be updated on next steps.

Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin Hart holds the Child Welfare portfolio for the AFN.

“First Nations children are the centre of our cultures and families. It is crucial that First Nations have the infrastructure and social services necessary to raise healthy young people. Canada needs to step up and come to the table, in good faith, to resolve this long-standing tragic issue,” Regional Chief Hart said.

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

For more information please contact:

Michael Hutchinson
Interim Communications Director
Assembly of First Nations
613-859-6831 (cell)
[email protected]

Karen Joyner
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-292-0857 (cell)
[email protected]

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Celso CercadoAFN National Chief Bellegarde welcomes Canada’s consent to certification of national class action involving First Nations child and family services, and agreement to proceed to mediation

AFN National Chief Bellegarde happy to see Canada designate residential schools as National Historic Sites so that their tragic legacy is properly recognized and remembered

on September 1, 2020

(Ottawa, ON) – National Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is encouraged by today’s designation of the Long Plain and Shubenacadie Residential Schools as National Historical Sites. This ensures the tragic history of residential schools and survivors will not be forgotten by future generations.

“I lift up and honour those we lost in the Indian Residential School System, the Survivors of these schools, and their families,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “First Nations and all Canadians must know the truth about what happened in these institutions and why. This designation is another step toward Canada fully recognizing the human rights violations that took place in Residential Schools. We all must understand the devastating impacts the Residential Schools had, and continue to have, on our First Nations cultures, languages, and families here and throughout this country.”

The AFN would also like to recognize and honour all the people who worked so hard to make this happen, including Parks Canada, all those who participated in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the leadership of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.

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

For more information please contact:

Michael Hutchinson
Interim Communications Director
Assembly of First Nations
613-859-6831 (cell)
[email protected]

Karen Joyner
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-292-0857 (cell)
[email protected]

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Celso CercadoAFN National Chief Bellegarde happy to see Canada designate residential schools as National Historic Sites so that their tragic legacy is properly recognized and remembered

AFN National Chief Bellegarde welcomes funding to support First Nations mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic

on August 25, 2020

(Ottawa, ON) – National Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is pleased that the federal government is stepping up to provide $82.5 million dollars to support Indigenous mental health programs, with $55 million specifically earmarked for First Nations.

“It is good to see the federal government and Minister Miller recognize this issue and provide additional resources to help First Nations peoples and families get through the pandemic,” National Chief Bellegarde said of the government’s announcement. “As we approach the opening of schools, First Nations families must also have the resources necessary to protect their loved ones. Parents must be able to access all available options; this includes First Nations attending on-reserve schools and those who are attending off-reserve schools.”

Today, the Canadian Government announced $82.5 million towards urgent Indigenous mental wellness supports that are culturally safe and community-based. The funding will aid adaption of existing mental health and wellness supports to adjust to the current realities of COVID-19, including the transition of some programs to virtual platforms, while also allowing for improved access to additional services. This financial support will also help Indigenous partners in developing new ways to address substance use and improve access to treatment.

Yukon Regional Chief Kluane Adamek holds the Mental Health portfolio at the AFN.

“This announcement is an important first step in responding to the mental health and wellness issues and impacts that COVID-19 has magnified in First Nations communities. First Nations have the right to be actively involved in developing and determining matters that affect us. Our youth are often reminding us all of this important approach — ‘nothing for us, without us.’ We know mental wellness and issues impacting First Nations need culturally safe and relevant responses to their concerns. First Nations organizations will continue to lead the work in responding to these issues, and we welcome this new and deeply needed approach,” stated Regional Chief Kluane Adamek.

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

For more information please contact:

Michael Hutchinson
Interim Communications Director
Assembly of First Nations
613-859-6831 (cell)
[email protected]

Karen Joyner
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-292-0857 (cell)
[email protected]

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Angie TurnerAFN National Chief Bellegarde welcomes funding to support First Nations mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic

AFN National Chief Welcomes Canada’s continued investments to support First Nations as they continue to face impacts from COVID-19

on August 12, 2020

(Ottawa, ON) –National Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) welcomes the support of the federal government which announced today that it will invest an additional $305 million to assist First Nations in addressing the current impacts of COVID-19. The funds will help with mitigation as well as preparing for an expected ‘second wave’ in the coming months.  These funds, made available through the continuing Indigenous Community Support Fund, follows initial investments of $380 million and will help ensure First Nations have the public health resources we need to keep our people secure and safe.

“While early action by the federal government and local chiefs have helped First Nations avoid the dire situations we’ve seen in Indigenous communities in many other countries, far too many remain under states of emergencies,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “This additional funding will assist First Nations to better prepare for additional public health measures required from COVID-19. However, still more is needed and I will continue to advocate for sustainable funding to address the critical needs during this crisis. Canada must remain committed to addressing these unique needs so long as COVID-19 remains with us.”

Speaking at a press conference, Indigenous Services Canada Minister Marc Miller said: “Health and safety remains our priority and we will continue to work in partnership with Indigenous communities and organizations to support a strong and comprehensive pandemic response. This funding offers further concrete support for on-the-ground community solutions that respond to the unique needs and circumstances of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis wherever they reside.”

First Nations, tribal councils, and urban and off-reserve Indigenous organizations are eligible to receive additional funding under an expanded list of activities to address COVID-19. This week Canada also allocated $24.6M in funding to support urban Indigenous Peoples through the National Association of Friendship Centres, the 2Spirits in Motion Foundation and the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples.

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

SOURCE Assembly of First Nations

For further information:
Karen Joyner
Communication Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-292-0857 (cell)
[email protected]

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Celso CercadoAFN National Chief Welcomes Canada’s continued investments to support First Nations as they continue to face impacts from COVID-19

ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS KNOWLEDGE KEEPERS COVID-19 MESSAGE

on July 24, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is not over. We must continue to listen, learn, be cautious and take care of one another –  a message from the Assembly of First Nations Knowledge Keepers Council

We would like to give thanks to the Creator for keeping our families, communities, and leaders safe during these challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you, Creator, for walking with our families who have lost loved ones during this time and keep them safe. Creator, please keep our young people safe. 

The past few months have brought new challenges to our communities and Nations. Members of our families and communities have left this world early due to complications from COVID-19. We honour their memories and acknowledge the grief that many of you feel. We recognize that it has been difficult to be separated from friends and families and to not be able to participate in all the activities and ceremonies that support our wellbeing. We thank all the nurses and frontline workers who are taking care of our people.

To our younger generation: please know you are in our prayers and that you can reach out for support anytime. With technology today, we are available to provide support, or we can find the support you need.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic reached Canada, First Nations have worked relentlessly to protect people and families in their communities. We have case numbers at a manageable level with a majority of cases resolved in community. Through adapting and working together, we have once again shown that we continue to be resilient.  Some communities have had no cases so far, but that does not mean we can be complacent. The pandemic is not yet over. The risk of a second wave exists, and we must all continue to be cautious and continue to listen to our Elders, leadership, and health leaders.

With the change of seasons, many of us are going out onto the land to participate in ceremony, harvest fish and berries, and to hunt. We must continue to gain strength from these practices and honour our traditional beliefs while acknowledging the role of western medicine in keeping us safe from sickness. With the coming of fall, the influenza vaccine (flu shot) will become available, and this year, more so than ever, it is important that we get vaccinated and encourage our friends and family members to get vaccinated as well.

With the gradual re-opening of communities, businesses, and schools, our social circles will become larger and we will interact with more people from within and outside of our communities. Please apply the direction of our leaders and practice physical distancing, practice good hand hygiene, limit large gatherings, and wear a mask inside public spaces. You may not feel sick, but you may be a carrier. Be reminded that there is strength in the practice of self-isolating, seeking medical attention, and getting tested for COVID-19 if you do feel sick or are in contact with a confirmed case.

By taking these precautions, you are taking care of yourself, and, importantly, taking care of those around you who may be more vulnerable to the disease, especially our Elders.  Continue to listen and learn about what is known about COVID-19, how it is spread, and what is effective in reducing the spread as information is constantly evolving. We have always taken care of each other, we will continue to do so now, especially in this period of uncertainty, to protect our people, our communities, and our Nations.

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Celso CercadoASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS KNOWLEDGE KEEPERS COVID-19 MESSAGE