News

AFN BULLETIN – Annual General Assembly and National Chief Election 2021 – July 26, 2021

on July 26, 2021

National Chief Election

Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Chiefs-in-Assembly from across Canada made history earlier this month electing RoseAnne Archibald as the first ever woman National Chief.  Close to 2000 First Nations leaders, Elders, youth, women and veterans gathered for the 42nd Annual General Assembly held virtually and hosted by Six Nations of the Grand River and Mississaugas of the Credit in Ontario.

National Chief Archibald was elected July 8, 2021 following results of the fifth ballot and after candidate Chief Reginald Bellerose conceded.  406 Chiefs and proxies registered to vote in this AFN election. 350 Chiefs and proxies voted in the fifth ballot. For full election results please visit the AFN website.

A total of seven candidates were nominated for National Chief. RoseAnne Archibald, Reginald Bellerose, Alvin Fiddler, Dr. Cathy Martin, Jodi Calahoo-Stonehouse, Kevin T. Hart and Lee Crowchild and participated in an all-candidates forum the evening of July 6. Polls for voting opened the morning after.

Annual General Assembly

The AGA also provided an opportunity for essential business. Chiefs-in-Assembly passed four resolutions during regular AGA proceedings, including AFN Emergency Resolution “Demanding Justice and Accountability for Missing and Unidentified Children of Residential Schools”.  Prior to passing this resolution, Chiefs and delegates observed a moment of silence in honour of all the children who did not return home from Residential Schools.

Other resolutions passed during the AGA include AFN Emergency Resolution “Preliminary Examination of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court” and two separate resolutions related to the AFN Charter in respect to Assembly quorum and creating an AFN regional office for PEI. 

Final resolutions are currently available on the AFN website. Remaining resolutions will be shared with the AFN Executive Committee at their July 28-29 meeting and in accordance with AFN Rules and Procedures.

On the first day of Assembly, former National Chief Perry Bellegarde was honoured by AFN Elder Mike Mitchell who presented him with an Eagle Feather for his leadership and accomplishments in advancing First Nations priorities.

The first-ever virtual AFN Circle of Trade featured Indigenous businesses, organizations and sponsors. AGA delegates took part in virtual presentations and networking opportunities.

The AFN thanks First Nations leadership, delegates and sponsors for participating in the 2021 virtual AGA. We look forward to continuing the important advocacy work to seek justice for our young ones and all our loved ones in ways that will build a future where our people are respected and our nations thrive.

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Roy WhiteduckAFN BULLETIN – Annual General Assembly and National Chief Election 2021 – July 26, 2021

National Chief RoseAnne Archibald Seeks Urgent Action from Federal Government after Release of Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc Report on Unmarked Graves

on July 15, 2021

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief RoseAnne Archibald joined Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc Kúkpi7 Rosanne Casimir, her Council and community, Elders, special guests, and residential school survivors for the announcement of findings from the final report on the recovery of unmarked graves at the former site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School.

National Chief Archibald released the below statement today:

“I am honoured to have joined the Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc leadership, community members and survivors as they announced findings of the report on the recovery of their lost and now recovered little ones. This is an important day for us as First Nations people.  Here in Secwe̓pemc territory, in these sacred lands, Canadians and the world first learned about how 215 innocent children died and were buried in unmarked graves.

For many Canadians and for people around the world, these recent recoveries of our children – buried nameless, unmarked, lost and without ceremony are shocking, and unbelievable. Not for us, we’ve always known.

I ask every Canadian to stand with First Nations as we continue this painful but important work. I ask that you listen, learn and reflect on the history we share as a country. Please continue to call the Prime Minister, your Premier, your MPs and MPPs to demand reparation, justice and action.

The report findings today show that this recovery of our children is not over and there will be many reports to come. This ground-penetrating radar technology is revealing evidence and is undisputable proof that crimes were committed.  Crimes have to be investigated and those guilty must be held to account.

People and media have been referring to them as discoveries. These are NOT ‘discoveries’ – these are ‘recoveries.’ There must be truth before reconciliation. It’s time to find our children and bring them home.

As we continue the painful but essential work of locating and identifying our missing little ones, I urge all levels of government to provide the full breadth of resources and support for any First Nation pursuing investigative efforts.”

On May 28, 2021, the remains of 215 children were discovered in unmarked graves at the site of the former Kamloops Residential School in Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation.

Since then, additional remains have been found at Muskowekwan First Nation (35 unmarked graves), Cowessess First Nation (751 unmarked graves), and as of July 13, at Penelakut Island (160 unmarked graves).

National Chief Archibald will continue to meet with Chiefs, survivors and loved ones as she continues her first cross-country tour as National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

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

Contact information:

Jamie Monastyrski
Press Secretary
Office of the National Chief
613-612-7229 (mobile)
[email protected]

Kelly Reid
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-292-0857 (mobile)
[email protected]

 

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Sid LeeNational Chief RoseAnne Archibald Seeks Urgent Action from Federal Government after Release of Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc Report on Unmarked Graves

“The Glass Ceiling has been Broken!” – RoseAnne Archibald Voted in as First Woman National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations

on July 8, 2021

Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Chiefs-in-Assembly today elected RoseAnne Archibald as National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations at the 42nd Annual General Assembly held virtually this week and hosted by Six Nations of the Grand River and Mississaugas of the Credit in Ontario.

National Chief RoseAnne Archibald will address media at a virtual press conference Friday.

DATE: Friday July 9, 2021
TIME: 10:00 a.m. ET
LINK: Zoom meeting
Meeting ID: 945 0354 3746
Passcode: 325580

In a “herstorical”/historical unprecedented election, National Chief Archibald was elected following five ballot results and after candidate Reginald Bellerose conceded and is now the first woman elected into the National Chief position. 406 Chiefs and proxies were registered to vote in this AFN election. 350 Chiefs and proxies voted in the fifth ballot. Seven candidates stood for election as National Chief.

Close to 2,000 First Nations leaders, Elders, women, youth and veterans from coast to coast to coast gathered virtually this week with the focus on honouring children lost to residential schools, maintaining momentum of recent progress on First Nations priorities and electing a new National Chief. The AGA concluded today.

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

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Contact information:

Lori Kittelberg
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
604-340-3117 (mobile)
[email protected]

Kelly Reid
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-292-0857 (mobile)
[email protected]

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Roy Whiteduck“The Glass Ceiling has been Broken!” – RoseAnne Archibald Voted in as First Woman National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations

NATIONAL CHIEF URGES THOUGHTFUL DIALOGUE, NOT DESTRUCTION

on July 2, 2021

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde says thoughtful dialogue is the way through the frustration and anger many are feeling after the revelations of the past few weeks related to recoveries at residential school sites across the country.

“As a Cree leader whose father and grandfather and several more family members attended Indian Residential Schools, I fully understand the frustration and anger many are feeling after the revelations of the past few weeks have laid bare the miseries of the Residential School system.  These are tragedies of an almost unimaginable nature for most Canadians.  We need to understand what happened and learn to speak openly about it.  Destroying property will not help us build the peaceful, better and accepting Canada we all want and need.  I believe in processes that unite rather than divide. Violence must be replaced by turning to ceremony and all that our old people taught us about peaceful co-existence and mutual respect. Thoughtful dialogue not destruction is the way through this.”

 The National Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line is available for support: 1-866-925-4419.

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

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For more information please contact:

Kelly Reid
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-292-0857 (mobile)
[email protected]

Lori Kittelberg
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
604-340-3117 (mobile)
[email protected]

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Roy WhiteduckNATIONAL CHIEF URGES THOUGHTFUL DIALOGUE, NOT DESTRUCTION

HORRIFIC DISCOVERIES OF UNMARKED GRAVES DEMANDS URGENT ACTION AND SUPPORT FROM ALLIES SAYS NATIONAL CHIEF

on June 24, 2021

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde released the below statement following the announcement by Chief Cadmus Delorme about the work of Cowessess First Nation resulting in locating more than 600 unmarked graves on the grounds of the former Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan.

“First Nations are greatly pained by this latest finding of unmarked graves on the site of an Indian Residential School.  We grieve over the many children who never made it home after their forcible removal from their families and people. 

We must never forget our children were targeted and placed in a racist system purposely designed to stamp out every aspect of who we are – our languages, our cultures, our teachings. I support Chief Delorme in his call for healing and for an apology from His Holiness, Pope Francis. 

The Assembly of First Nations supports all First Nations seeking the truth and the full implementation of all the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. 

I know that First Nations across this country will continue the work to find, honour and commemorate the lost little ones. I call on all governments to support First Nations governments in this work and for all governments and the Catholic Church to respond to calls for resources and for information in their possession. 

The families and the nations of all the children who never came home have the right to truth – and to know who lies in these unmarked graves and what happened to them. 

First Nations will continue our search for our little ones and to honour and commemorate them. 

I thank the many Canadians, and members of the international community, who have written to the Assembly of First Nations to express their condolences and concern.  

I pray for healing for all of those impacted by the loss and the discovery of our precious children. 

The Assembly of First Nations stands with all who are suffering at this time.”

 

The National Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line is available for support: 1-866-925-4419.

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

 

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For more information please contact:

Kelly Reid
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-292-0857 (mobile)
[email protected]

Lori Kittelberg
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
604-340-3117 (mobile)
[email protected]

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Roy WhiteduckHORRIFIC DISCOVERIES OF UNMARKED GRAVES DEMANDS URGENT ACTION AND SUPPORT FROM ALLIES SAYS NATIONAL CHIEF

FEDERAL LEGISLATION TO IMPLEMENT UN DECLARATION MAJOR STEP TOWARD ADDRESSING RACISM AND DISCRIMINATION IN CANADA

on June 16, 2021

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde welcomes the passing of a federal bill to advance the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, urging its full implementation in Canada to meet standards necessary for the dignity, survival, and well-being of Indigenous peoples.

“This is a major step forward for First Nations and for Canada – this is concrete action, this is history in the making,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde, adding the passing of this federal legislation comes after decades of advocacy by First Nations and indigenous peoples worldwide.  “This legislation to implement the UN Declaration on the Right of indigenous Peoples in Canada can be a pathway to reconciliation, guided by our inherent and Treaty rights. Its full implementation will see First Nations rights respected and implemented and is essential to addressing all forms of racism and discrimination in Canada.”

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act passed June 16 by the Senate of Canada, will require the federal government to work collaboratively with First Nations and other Indigenous peoples to develop a National Action Plan to implement the UN Declaration, including measures to address prejudice and eliminate all forms of violence and discrimination against Indigenous peoples. While the UN Declaration already has legal effect in Canada, this new legislation requires that Canadian laws be reviewed and reformed in order to meet Canada’s international human rights obligations and explicitly rejects the racist doctrines of discovery and terra nullius.  It also requires regular reporting to Parliament on progress.

“The passing of bill C-15, now the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, means we now have a process that requires laws and policies to change so that First Nations rights are respected and implemented,” said National Chief Bellegarde.  “First Nations will determine their own priorities and how they wish to work with Canada. And I urge all governments in Canada to work to ensure full implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

The implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by all levels of government, including developing a national action plan, strategies, and other concrete measures to achieve the goals set out in the Declaration, is the focus of two of the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action and is also included in the Calls for Justice of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

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

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For more information please contact:


Lori Kittelberg
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
604-340-3117 (mobile)
[email protected]

Kelly Reid
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-292-0857 (mobile)
[email protected]

 

BACKGROUNDER

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (formerly Bill C-15) was passed by the Parliament of Canada and will soon receive Royal Assent.

This historic achievement is the product of decades of advocacy by First Nations leadership, internationally and in Canada, to ensure respect and implementation of the human rights of Indigenous peoples.

The Act provides explicit recognition of Canada’s obligation to respect and promote the inherent rights of Indigenous peoples, affirmed in the UN Declaration, including the right of self-determination. The urgent need to respect and promote the Treaty rights of Indigenous peoples is repeatedly affirmed to have Treaties respected and enforced. The Declaration contains international human rights standards that Canada and all members of the UN have affirmed, and re-affirmed, many times.

The Act does not take away or diminish any rights. This is all about taking long overdue action to respect and implement rights that First Nations already have.

Importantly, the Act requires the federal government to work with Indigenous peoples to reform the laws of Canada and develop a National Action Plan for the full implementation of the Declaration.

What does the Act do?

The Act requires the federal government to “work in consultation and cooperation” with Indigenous peoples to ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with the minimum human rights standards affirmed in the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The federal government must now work cooperatively with Indigenous peoples to ensure that federal laws, policies and operational practices meet these minimum human rights standards.

The Act explicitly confirms that the UN Declaration is to be used to interpret Canadian laws. (Canadian courts already have been using the Declaration in exactly this way.) The new Act will promote greater compliance and awareness of the work required to respect and implement the human rights of Indigenous peoples.

The Act requires the Government of Canada to “take all measures necessary to ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with the Declaration.” This requirement has immediate effect. Government officials must make every effort to interpret and apply Canada’s laws in a way that is consistent with the provisions of the Declaration. This requirement should inform and shape the positions taken by the federal government in negotiations and in court. There must also be a formal process to review laws and bring them back to Parliament to be repealed or reformed.

The Act also requires that the federal government “must…prepare and implement an action plan to achieve the purposes of the Declaration.” Such an Action Plan is to include concrete actions to ensure the human rights of Indigenous peoples are respected and implemented.

In all these measures, the Act states that the government must work in “consultation and cooperation” with Indigenous peoples. The Act also requires regular reports to Parliament that will be made public. In addition, the Act commits the government to explore additional accountability measures.

AFN’s expert legal advisors have confirmed that nothing in the Act can be used to take away, diminish or unilaterally redefine any rights of Indigenous peoples.

Why is implementation of the UN Declaration important?

The Declaration is a global human rights instrument setting out the “minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of Indigenous peoples.” All governments are expected to uphold and implement the provisions of the Declaration.

The Declaration was adopted by the UN General Assembly more than 13 years ago, on September 13, 2007. The Declaration was intended to close a critical gap in the international human rights system by explicitly affirming a wide range of universal human rights that have, in practice, been widely denied to Indigenous peoples. This includes the right to self-determination and collective rights to lands, territories and resources, environmental protection, spirituality, culture, and identity.

The Declaration is especially important because Indigenous peoples were active partners in its drafting. This included First Nations leaders and grassroots advocates.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) called the Declaration “the framework for reconciliation.” Canada embraced all of the TRC Calls to Action. Both the TRC and the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls called for Canada to implement the Declaration through law, policy, and collaborative action.

What does it mean to say that the UN Declaration “has legal effect” in Canada?

Canadian courts regularly use international human rights instruments to interpret domestic law. Courts and human rights tribunals are already using the UN Declaration in exactly that way.

In addition, the Declaration consolidates international standards that are already legally binding on governments in Canada. These standards include those previously set out in international conventions to which Canada is a party and those that have emerged as part of what is known as “customary international law”.

For example, the right to self-determination is affirmed in both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The prohibition against racial discrimination is elaborated in the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

What will be in the National Action Plan?

The Act states that the action plan must include measures to:

  • “address injustices, combat prejudice and eliminate all forms of violence, racism and discrimination, including systemic racism and discrimination”
  • “promote mutual respect and understanding as well as good relations, including through human rights education”; and
  • “measures related to monitoring, oversight, recourse or remedy or other accountability measures with respect to the implementation of the Declaration.”

As the Act sets out, the content of the National Action Plan must be developed in consultation and cooperation with First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Such actions must take into account a distinctions-based approach.

Why is the preamble to the Act important?

The preamble in any law in Canada is a tool that can be used to interpret and apply its operative provisions. In other words, preambles have legal effects.

The new Act has a very robust preamble. A number of the clauses in the preamble are worth highlighting, including the following:

  • Whereas all doctrines, policies and practices based on or advocating the superiority of peoples or individuals on the basis of national origin or racial, religious, ethnic or cultural differences, including the doctrines of discovery and terra nullius, are racist, scientifically false, legally invalid, morally condemnable and socially unjust;
  • Whereas the Government of Canada rejects all forms of colonialism and is committed to advancing relations with Indigenous peoples that are based on good faith and on the principles of justice, democracy, equality, non-discrimination, good governance and respect for human rights;
  • Whereas the Government of Canada recognizes that all relations with Indigenous peoples must be based on the recognition and implementation of the inherent right to self-determination, including the right of self-government;
  • Whereas there is an urgent need to respect and promote the rights of Indigenous peoples affirmed in treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements, and those treaties, agreements and arrangements can contribute to the implementation of the Declaration;
  • And whereas measures to implement the Declaration in Canada must take into account the diversity of Indigenous peoples and, in particular, the diversity of the identities, cultures, languages, customs, practices, rights and legal traditions of First Nations, Inuit and the Métis and of their institutions and governance structures, their relationships to the land and Indigenous knowledge.

What is the relationship between Bill C-262 and the new Act?

Bill C-262 was a private Member’s bill advanced by former Member of Parliament Romeo Saganash. Bill C-262 was passed by the House of Commons in 2018 but was blocked by the stalling tactics of a few Senators. C-262 was never brought to a final vote in the Senate.

The essential elements of the new Act – affirmation of the Declaration’s legal affect and the commitment to law reform, creation of a national action plan, reporting to Parliament and collaboration with Indigenous peoples – are like those of Bill C-262. However, the new Act uses C-262 as the “floor”, but not the ceiling.

Where did the Act come from?

For many years, First Nations have advocated for federal legislation to affirm the rights in the UN Declaration and ensure their implementation through a jointly developed action plan.

Romeo Saganash’s private Member’s bill to implement the UN Declaration, Bill C-262, was broadly supported by First Nations. Chiefs-in-Assembly had passed a resolution calling on Parliament to adopt Bill C-262. When Bill C-262 was blocked by filibuster tactics in the Senate, AFN Chiefs-in-Assembly passed a resolution in December 2019 calling for a government bill modelled on Bill C-262 to be introduced to Parliament within a year. AFN Resolution 86-2019 states that a government implementation bill must be at least as strong as Bill C-262.

Commitments to develop such legislation were made by Canada in the 2019 and 2020 Speeches from the Throne. Federal Justice Minister David Lametti tabled Bill C-15 on December 3, 2020, following a short engagement period.

Discussions over the Bill took place at AFN’s AGA in December 2020 as well as a two-day National First Nations Leadership Forum on Bill C-15 on February 10-11, 2021. Hundreds of First Nations leaders discussed this important legislation from a diversity of perspectives.

C-15 built on the foundation of C-262, while adding greater detail and clarity as well as a more robust preamble. The AFN’s team of expert legal advisors concluded Bill C-15 met the mandate to support government legislation that would be at least as strong as Bill C-262. In fact, C-15 is stronger than former Bill C-262 in several ways.

Input from the AFN and others during Parliamentary hearings calling for amendments, responsive to First Nations concerns, resulted in these improvements.

What amendments were made to the Act during the Parliamentary process?

In response to concerns raised by First Nations, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs adopted a number of amendments to clarify and strengthen Bill C-15.

 

  • The deadline for creating a National Action Plan was shortened from three years to two years.
  • In the clause on the National Action Plan, and in the preamble, where the Bill originally referred to eliminating violence and all forms of discrimination, the Act was amended to also explicitly include systemic racism.
  • In the preamble, where the Act rejects all doctrines of superiority, the Act was amended to add specific reference to the doctrines of discovery and terra nullius.
  • Where the preamble refers to section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 and the underlying constitutional principle and value of protecting Aboriginal and Treaty rights, the following statement was added: “Canadian courts have stated that such rights are not frozen and are capable of evolution and growth.”
  • A grammatical amendment was made: where the English version of the Bill originally referred to its “purpose” – even though there were two separate purposes named – the Act says “purposes.”

What happens next?

Given that there is a two-year deadline for completing the first National Action Plan, the federal government should immediately engage with First Nations to develop an inclusive process consistent with the requirements of the Declaration itself.

Passage of the Act also establishes an immediate obligation for the federal government to ensure that its laws are consistent with the UN Declaration. This should be reflected in the positions taken by the federal government in negotiations and in court and the need to undertake a joint law and policy review with First Nations to identify where federal law, policy and operational practices do not align with the minimum standards of the UN Declaration.

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Roy WhiteduckFEDERAL LEGISLATION TO IMPLEMENT UN DECLARATION MAJOR STEP TOWARD ADDRESSING RACISM AND DISCRIMINATION IN CANADA

Years after release of TRC report, most Canadians want accelerated action to remedy damage done by residential school system, says poll

on June 15, 2021

A poll conducted by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, the Assembly of First Nations and Abacus Data shows that the majority of Canadians believe governments are not doing enough to teach students about the legacy of the residential school system.

TORONTO, June 15, 2021—The discovery of the remains of 215 First Nation children at the former site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School, and another discovery of a possible mass grave at the site of the Brandon Indian Residential School in Manitoba has highlighted the devasting and traumatic impacts of the residential school system, prompting Canadians to express unprecedented support, with 49 percent saying they have a new appreciation of the damage done by residential schools. Canadians also signalled strong support for actions on
First Nations-led priorities toward justice, healing and closing the socio-economic gap.

Results of a survey released today by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF), the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and Abacus Data, expose glaring gaps of knowledge and education related to Canada’s history and renew calls to re-examine questions around who should be held accountable. Polling results identify that 93 percent of Canadians are aware of the discovery of remains at the site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School, with 58 percent Canadians following the news closely. This is a slight increase (seven percent) in the number of Canadians who were closely following the news on the legacy of residential schools upon the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, nearly six years ago. Despite 72 percent of Canadians being saddened by the news of the mass grave, only 10 percent of Canadians are very familiar with the history of the residential school system.

Thirteen years after the Government of Canada offered a formal apology to the survivors of the residential school system and families, 68 percent of Canadians polled still say they were either unaware of the severity of abuses at residential schools or completely shocked by it.

“The discovery at Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation confirms what First Nations have been saying for decades, and demands urgent action to support justice and healing for survivors and to end the racist and discriminatory practices, policies and approaches that maintain a socio-economic gap between First Nations and the rest of Canada,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “There is an opportunity before every single person in this country to demand and act for change. Increased awareness and attention must be met with increased
understanding and real action by governments. I encourage every single person in Canada to join First Nations in honouring the lost children and the survivors and families of residential schools and urge every level of government to fully implement the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.”

The news of the mass grave at the Kamloops Residential School appears to have increased many Canadians’ desire to know more about the historical legacy of residential schools. Sixty-two percent of Canadians believe that provincial education curricula do not include nearly enough about residential schools, and 65 percent believe the level of education around residential schools should increase. Seventy percent of survey respondents say that the framing of residential schools has been downplayed in the education system.

The majority of Canadians are unequivocal about whom should take responsibility for the damage done by the residential school system. Ninety percent of respondents believe that the federal government is liable for the damage caused by residential schools, followed by the Catholic Church (81 percent) and the RCMP (80 percent).

Four out of five Canadians would like to see the Pope formally apologize to the survivors of residential schools. Nearly as many want the federal government to offer more funding to identify other possible mass graves at all residential school sites.

“What is clear from the poll’s findings is that several entities have failed not only the Indigenous population, but all Canadians,” said Mohammed Hashim, Executive Director for the CRRF. “While the historical legacy of the residential school system in Canada is shameful, it must be taught, thoroughly analyzed and embedded within provincial curricula so that something like this is never, ever repeated. Ignoring this terrible chapter does not only dishonour survivors and victims of the residential school system, it is a dishonour and disservice to the integrity of
Canadian society.”

The survey results show apparent differences in views among specific demographics. For instance, 69 percent of young people surveyed (aged 18-29) agree that the residential school policy was an instrument of genocide on the Indigenous population in Canada. Sixty percent of immigrants to Canada surveyed agree. On the political spectrum,
85 percent of left-leaning Canadians would like to see the pace of implementing the TRC calls to action accelerated. Conversely, one in five politically right-leaning Canadians is opposed to quickening the speed of the TRC action points. Eighty-four percent of Canadians believe that they will find more gravesites, while nearly all Indigenous respondents (99 percent) say the discovery of more mass graves is inevitable.

On the heels of removal of the Egerton Ryerson statue in Toronto and discussions around changing the name of the university named in his honour, appetite is high among Canadians for symbolic measures to erase relics of Canada’s racist past and honour those who were adversely affected by them. Fifty-eight percent of Canadians want to see buildings and institutions named after the architects of the residential school system renamed. Sixtyfive percent of Canadians would be in support of a national statutory holiday honoring the survivors and victims of the residential school system.

“By margins of greater than three to one, Canadians are telling us they want action on First Nations priorities,” added AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “People want to see Canada accelerate progress on the 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report, invest in efforts to identify all unmarked graves at residential schools, and to stop fighting against our children and residential school survivors in court. Decisionmakers at all levels must heed these calls for action. These are some of the ways we can truly honour the lives of those who were so tragically lost.”

—END—

About the Canadian Race Relations Foundation:
The Canadian Race Relations Foundation was created in 1996 to reaffirm the principles of justice and equality for all in Canada. The mandate of the Foundation is to facilitate throughout Canada the development, sharing, and application of knowledge and expertise in order to contribute to the elimination of racism and all forms of racial discrimination in Canadian society.

About Abacus Data:
Abacus Data is an innovative, fast-growing public opinion and marketing research consultancy. They use the latest technology, sound science, and deep experience to generate top-flight research-based advice for their clients. They offer global research capacity with a strong focus on customer service, attention to detail, and exceptional value. Abacus Data was one of the most accurate pollsters conducting research during the 2019 Canadian Election.

About the Assembly of First Nations:
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing 634 First Nations in Canada.

Residential Schools National Report – June 2021

For media inquiries, please contact:

Kimberly Bennett
Director of Communication
Canadian Race Relations Foundation
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 437 533 1104

Jenna Young Castro
Director of Communications
Assembly of First Nations
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 613 314 8157

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Celso CercadoYears after release of TRC report, most Canadians want accelerated action to remedy damage done by residential school system, says poll

Assembly of First Nations Election 2021 – Announcement of Candidates for the Office of the National Chief

on June 3, 2021

OTTAWA, ON – The Office of the Chief Electoral Officer, responsible for the election of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief, has received nomination papers in proper form from the following persons, listed below in alphabetical order by last name:

    1. Archibald, RoseAnne – ON
    2. Bellerose, Reginald – SK
    3. Calahoo-Stonehouse, Jodi – AB
    4. Crowchild, Lee – AB
    5. Fiddler, Alvin – ON
    6. Hart, Kevin T. – MB
    7. Martin, Ed.D., Cathy – QC

According to the AFN Charter, an Eligible Candidate must:

  • Be eighteen (18) years of age or older;
  • Be of First Nations ancestry;
  • Be a member of a First Nations community, in good standing with the AFN; and
  • Have 15 eligible electors, First Nations Chiefs, endorse their candidacy.

The 2021 Election for the Office of the National Chief will take place on Wednesday, July 7, 2021, during the AFN Annual General Assembly (AGA). The 2021 AGA is taking place virtually July 6-8, 2021.

The AFN Charter, Article 22 states that the National Chief shall be elected by a majority of sixty (60) percent of the votes. The Assembly of First Nations is the national advocacy organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.

General Inquiries:
Please contact [email protected] or visit www.afn.ca.

Media Inquiries:
Please contact candidates directly for media inquiries. Below is the campaign contact information for each candidate:

ROSEANNE ARCHIBALD
Campaign Manager: Tania Cameron
Email: [email protected]

REGINALD BELLEROSE
Campaign Manager: Bailey Watson
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 306-331-8970

JODI CALAHOO-STONEHOUSE
Campaign Manager: Amanda Alexis
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 780-860-1372

LEE CROWCHILD
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 403-828-3158

ALVIN FIDDLER
Media Inquiries: Carmella Fontaine
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 204-898-9799

KEVIN T. HART
Campaign Manager: Cheryl Gerard
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 204-998-2217

CATHY MARTIN, Ed.D.
Campaign Manager: Joe Phillips
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 647-570-1991

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Roy WhiteduckAssembly of First Nations Election 2021 – Announcement of Candidates for the Office of the National Chief

ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS BULLETIN – Free Registration Open – AGA 2021

on June 1, 2021

The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is pleased to announce that free registration is now open for the 42nd Annual General Assembly (AGA) and election of National Chief taking place virtually July 6-8, 2021.

First Nations leaders, Knowledge Keepers, Women, Youth and Veterans from coast to coast to coast will gather online to celebrate the progress and deliberate priorities for continued advocacy.  Chiefs from more then 600 First Nation communities across Canada will gather virtually to vote in the Election for National Chief on July 7, 2021. Thousands of First Nation citizens, government officials, partners, interested Canadians and media will be tuning in to see who Chiefs will elect to lead the AFN to represent their interests and advocate on their behalf for the next three years.

This year’s AGA theme, Building Our Future, will focus on maintaining the momentum of progress and on the action required to rebuild from a pandemic. The three-day event will feature welcoming remarks from host nations near Toronto, ON, updates from Regional Chiefs from across Canada as well as remarks by and an honouring of outgoing National Chief Perry Bellegarde.

The AFN and the Chief Electoral Officer are working diligently to ensure First Nation Chiefs and proxies are familiar with the online and telephone voting options and voter registration process. AFN staff will be reaching out to each First Nation in advance of the AGA to offer assistance in registration and will be available as well by phone during the AGA. Resources and videos to support Chiefs and proxies will be posted to the AFN website. A help desk and IT support will be available by telephone on July 7.

The AFN looks forward to a successful AGA and the time we can welcome First Nations and all AGA delegates and guests together again in person.

More details will be shared in the weeks ahead. For more information please visit https://www.afn.ca/2021-annual-general-assembly/.

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Roy WhiteduckASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS BULLETIN – Free Registration Open – AGA 2021

NATIONAL CHIEF DEMANDS ACTION FOR MISSING FIRST NATIONS CHILDREN AND GRAVE SITES

on June 1, 2021

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde released the below statement to mark the first day of Indigenous Peoples History month and in advance of the June 2 anniversary of the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.

“In the days since the discovery of the remains of children from Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation and those who attended Kamloops Indian Residential School, there has been an outpour of support to our people and communities.  Flags are half mast, children’s shoes line the steps at Parliament and at monuments across the country and an orange wave is washing over social media.   All eyes are on First Nations as we attempt to digest the most recent evidence of the genocide against our people, our children.

We have the attention of our non-Indigenous brothers and sisters, many of whom seek direction on how to show support.  It’s incumbent on us right now to work together to seize the opportunity to harness this awareness and this energy.  Everyone has a role. Every single government and person in Canada can help drive change, to honour our shared history and commit to doing better as a country.

The Government of Canada must respond to First Nations seeking assistance in finding our lost children and support our mourning First Nations communities. We deeply appreciate the support of so many concerned Canadians.  I demand that all governments commit to supporting First Nations seeking thorough investigations into former residential school sites and to take any, and all action available to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions.

The resources and efforts currently being put toward a judicial review of the 2016 Canadian Human Rights Tribunal decision should be invested in fulfilling the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Calls to Justice of the Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous women and Girls.

Moments of silence are respectful and heartfelt, but we need to see real action. I demand the federal government stop fighting our children in court and implement the orders from the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.  Provincial and territorial governments must stop apprehending our children and work with First Nations to fully implement the Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families.

We need to see real action to end the systemic racism that persists in every single system in the country. And we need to see Parliament implement international human rights standards in Canada by passing C-15, the proposed legislation on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The discovery at Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation confirms what First Nations have believed for decades took place at residential schools.  With increased awareness, it’s my hope there will be increased understanding for the searing reality of intergenerational impacts of the “Indian” Residential School system.

I encourage every single person in Canada to stand with First Nations as we press forward for action to ensure our children are returned to their people to finally receive the respect and dignity not provided to them in life.

I encourage any concerned Canadian to write their Member of Parliament to press for the full implementation of all the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. We must continue to reveal the truth, no matter how painful, in order to move toward reconciliation.”

 

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

 

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For more information please contact:

Kelly Reid
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-292-0857 (mobile)
[email protected]

Lori Kittelberg
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
604-340-3117 (mobile)
[email protected]

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Roy WhiteduckNATIONAL CHIEF DEMANDS ACTION FOR MISSING FIRST NATIONS CHILDREN AND GRAVE SITES