News

National Indigenous Organization Leaders at the State Funeral of her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

on September 18, 2022

(London, UK) – Leaders from Canada’s three national Indigenous organizations are attending the state funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II tomorrow as part of the Canadian delegation. Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief RoseAnne Archibald, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) President Natan Obed, and President of the Métis National Council (MNC) Cassidy Caron are scheduled to arrive at Westminster Abbey around 9:20 – 9:30 BST.

AFN National Chief Archibald will then be available for media requests at the Corinthia London at 14:00 BST. She will be joined by Chief Sheldon Kent of Black River First Nation and Chief Theresa Nelson of Animbiigoo Zaagi igan Anishinaabek.

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

For more information please contact:

Andrew St. Germain
Office of the National Chief
416-543-1690 (mobile)
[email protected]

Steven Sutherland
Communications Manager
Métis National Council
[email protected]

Patricia D’Souza
Director of Communications
Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami
[email protected]
613-292-4482 (mobile)

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Sid LeeNational Indigenous Organization Leaders at the State Funeral of her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Federal bill to implement un declaration “a positive step toward healing the wounds of racism and injustice” says National Chief Perry Bellegarde

on December 3, 2020

(Ottawa, ON) – National Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) welcomed the tabling of a federal bill to advance implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“The bill tabled today contains key elements that the Assembly of First Nations has long sought to ensure that Canada meets its obligations to respect and implement the UN Declaration,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “The UN Declaration is a crucial tool for addressing systemic racism and closing the gap in quality of life between First Nations and Canadians. The new bill provides a much-needed framework to put the Declaration into practice.”

The proposed legislation would require the federal government to work collaboratively with Indigenous peoples to develop a National Action Plan to implement the Declaration, including measures to address prejudice and eliminate all forms of violence and discrimination against Indigenous peoples. The legislation calls for a process to identify laws that need to be reformed in order to meet Canada’s international human rights obligations. The bill would also require regular reporting on the progress made.

In addition, the Bill affirms the fact that the UN Declaration already has legal effect in Canada: it is increasingly being used by courts and tribunals to interpret federal and provincial laws. The preamble to the Bill condemns all racist and colonial doctrines and beliefs.

“Passing federal implementation legislation will be a positive step toward healing the wounds of racism and injustice,” said National Chief Bellegarde.

In its provisions, the new bill is closely modelled on Bill C-262, a private Member’s bill that was passed by the House of Commons in 2018.  When Bill C-262 was blocked in the Senate, AFN Chiefs passed a resolution calling for federal legislation that “fully respects the intent of the Declaration, and establishes Bill C- 262 as the floor, rather than the ceiling.”

National Chief Bellegarde said, “The AFN has been given a clear mandate from our Chiefs to advocate for federal legislation that builds on the foundations of Bill C-262 and is every bit as strong as Bill C-262 in its respect for our rights. The bill tabled today meets that test.”

The implementation bill will be closely examined during the upcoming AFN Annual Chiefs Assembly.

The AFN is urging all Parliamentarians to support adoption of a strong implementation framework before the close of this session of Parliament.

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

For more information please contact:
Karen Joyner
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-292-0857 (cell)
[email protected]

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Celso CercadoFederal bill to implement un declaration “a positive step toward healing the wounds of racism and injustice” says National Chief Perry Bellegarde

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Calls for the Removal of RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki

on October 23, 2020

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde released this statement today calling for the removal of RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki:

“Given months of civil unrest and multiple issues relating to the safety of First Nations people across the country, I will be writing to Prime Minister Trudeau to express that we have lost confidence in Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commissioner Brenda Lucki. The safety and security of all Canadians, including First Nations people, must be the top priority of the Prime Minister and the federal government. I am asking the Prime Minister to remove Commissioner Lucki and to replace her with someone who will focus greater attention on public safety and combating racism.”

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 Calls for the Removal of RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki

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 Says Newly Passed Legislation will Help Build Stronger and Healthier First Nations

on June 20, 2019

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today welcomes the passing of two new pieces of federal legislation passed in the House of Commons today. The Indigenous Languages Act, Bill C-91 and An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families, Bill C-92 are expected to receive Royal Assent in the Senate tomorrow, on National Indigenous Peoples Day.

“Today we have made history and arrive at a turning point in our work to reclaim, revitalize, maintain and strengthen our languages,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “Language is life and central to our identities and cultures. We know that when states uphold Indigenous languages their likelihood of survival increases. This is why we pushed for The Indigenous Languages Act, and it’s why I’m so proud we now have the federal government’s full support for this work. Today we celebrate the work of our language champions who worked with Canada to create this legislation that will help ensure our children grow strong in their language and stronger in life, confident and proud in their identities and connected to their nations. This is an example of reconciliation in action and a meaningful way to mark 2019, the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages.”

On February 5, 2019, Bill C-91, an Act respecting Indigenous languages, was tabled in the House of Commons with the objective to protect, promote, revitalize and strengthen Indigenous languages in Canada. The initiative to co-develop legislation with the AFN and other national Indigenous organizations was announced by Prime Minister Trudeau at an AFN Assembly in December 2016.

Bill C-92, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families, was introduced in the House of Commons in February 2019. It was developed with direction from AFN Chiefs-in-Assembly and input by the AFN legislative working group which is comprised of technicians and experts from across the country drawing on years of advocacy and direction.

“Bill C-92 puts First Nations children first and is a major step in the right direction to address decades of failures that resulted in far too many of our children being torn from their families,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “The goal with this legislation is to apply laws, policies and values to systems designed and implemented by First Nations for First Nations with the focus on providing every opportunity for our children to grow up feeling valued and connected to their families, cultures and nations. No one piece of legislation will fix the drastic and long-lasting impacts of a broken system, but with First Nations jurisdiction paramount we have a solid base for change. I urge all provinces and territories to work directly with First Nations on the implementation of this legislation.”

The Act to Respect First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families affirms First Nations jurisdiction and creates space for First Nations laws and practices regarding their families. It respects rights in the context of implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which is the minimum international standard for the survival and dignity of Indigenous peoples. It sets out key principles that will prevent children from being removed from their homes unnecessarily, promotes children staying in their communities and nations and ensures the best interests of the child principle is understood and applied with a First Nations lens for our children and families.

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

For media requests or more information, please contact:

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

Monica Poirier
Bilingual Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext. 382
613-292-0857 (mobile)
[email protected]

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Sid LeeAFN National Chief Bellegarde Says Newly Passed Legislation will Help Build Stronger and Healthier First Nations

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Says Involvement of First Nations in Columbia River Treaty Negotiations is the Right Move That Will Lead to Better Outcomes

on May 2, 2019

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde welcomes a decision by the federal government to officially involve First Nations in the negotiations currently underway with the United States to modernize the Columbia River Treaty.

“The decision to include the Ktunaxa Nation, Secwepemc Nation and Syilx Okanagan Nation in the negotiations on the Columbia River Treaty is an important and necessary step,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. “Canada must respect the right of First Nations to be involved in any activities that affect their rights and their traditional territories. I have advocated for Canada to extend an official role for First Nations in negotiations of international agreements, and the AFN passed a national resolution supporting direct First Nation participation in Columbia River Treaty. Foreign Affairs Minister Freeland has done the right thing by including these First Nations. This should be part of a broader move to involve First Nations in all national and international negotiations where our rights can be impacted. There is the added benefit that involving First Nations leads to better decisions and better outcomes.”

Canada and the United States are currently negotiating to modernize the Columbia River Treaty, first signed in 1964 to develop hydroelectric power in the Columbia River Basin and control flooding. Decisions made under the Treaty have had many adverse effects on the First Nations involved, including damage to village and burial sites and damage to fish stocks, a traditional food source with cultural and spiritual significance. The three First Nations have had some input into the negotiations, but on April 26, Minister Freeland announced that representatives from the First Nations will participate as official observers in the negotiations. Chiefs-in-Assembly called for such a move in resolution 23/2018, First Nations Participation in the Re-negotiation of the Columbia River Treaty, passed by consensus at the AFN’s 2018 Annual General Assembly. The next round of negotiations takes place June 19-20 in Washington, D.C.

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

For more information, please contact:

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

Monica Poirier
Bilingual Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext. 382
613-292-0857
[email protected]

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Sid LeeAFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Says Involvement of First Nations in Columbia River Treaty Negotiations is the Right Move That Will Lead to Better Outcomes

Broken Systems Failed Tina Fontaine – AFN Says Coordinated Action Required to Implement Manitoba Child Advocate Report’s Recommendations

on March 12, 2019

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde says the report released today by the Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth underscores the need to address long-standing failures in approaches by governments across a range of systems, including education, health and mental wellness, and victim support services, in regard to the care and safety of First Nations children.

“This report lays bare the reality that First Nations children and families are still impacted by a history of colonialism and government policies aimed at breaking apart our cultures, our families and our nations,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “Children are our most sacred gifts from the Creator, and the systems that should be protecting them are failing them. I continue to offer support to the family and friends of Tina Fontaine as they seek justice and healing. The focus now must be reducing risk. We need urgent action by governments and agencies to work with First Nations families, leaders and experts to act on these recommendations among others. Our guiding principle must be the best interests of the child, including fostering strong connections to their kin and their cultures. I look forward to public progress reports on this important work.”

Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth Daphne Penrose this morning released a special report published after an investigation in accordance with The Advocate for Children and Youth Act. The report, A Place Where it Feels Like Home: The Story of Tina Fontaine, contains five recommendations directed at the Manitoba government, government systems and public bodies. It was released in Tina Fontaine’s home community of Sagkeeng First Nation and aims to uncover truths and honour Tina Fontaine’s legacy.

The 115-page report contains pointed comments on the impacts of colonialism, specifically stating that Tina Fontaine “carried a burden that was not her own”. It offers five recommendations in the areas of education, health and mental wellness, victim support services and child and family services. Ms. Penrose revealed her office will be tracking government compliance with the recommendations publicly.

“This report is a clear call to action for the government to work with First Nations to keep our children safe,” said AFN Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin Hart, who holds the portfolio for Child Welfare. “The report states that Manitoba has the highest prevalence rate of missing children and youth in the country. We cannot stand by and wait for another tragedy to prompt action. Our children are the center of the circle of our nations. We are taking action and we must keep up momentum. The AFN worked to ensure legislation on First Nations child welfare was put forward last month that will support our right and our jurisdiction to take responsibility for our children. This is one piece of much larger reforms that are needed. My thoughts are with the family of Tina Fontaine as they receive this report, and I want today to mark a new beginning in the safety and protection of our children.”

The August 2014 death of 15-year old Tina Fontaine drew national attention and highlighted the national priority of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Raymond Cormier was acquitted of second-degree murder charges by jury in February 2018.

First Nations have called for changes to the justice system in Canada, including increased representation by First Nations on juries and support for First Nations approaches to justice, including restorative justice.

Following years of pressure and advocacy for action and reform, last month the federal government introduced federal legislation on Indigenous child welfare that recognizes First Nations jurisdiction over child and family services.

The AFN continues to call for a coordinated national action plan to provide safety and security for First Nations women and girls that would include shelters and safe spaces, education and training, transportation, daycare and other supports. The National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls is expected to conclude June 2019.

The full report by the Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth is available at https://manitobaadvocate.ca/wp-content/uploads/MACY-Special-Report-March-2019-Tina-Fontaine-FINAL1.pdf

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

 

For more information, please contact:

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

Monica Poirier
Bilingual Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext. 382
613-292-0857
[email protected]

 

 

 

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Sid LeeBroken Systems Failed Tina Fontaine – AFN Says Coordinated Action Required to Implement Manitoba Child Advocate Report’s Recommendations

National Chief Perry Bellegarde Bulletin – March 2019

on March 12, 2019

Federal Legislation on Indigenous Child Welfare – Bill C-92


SUMMARY:

  • On February 28, 2019 Indigenous Services Canada Minister Seamus O’Regan introduced federal legislation on Indigenous child welfare (Bill C-92) that recognizes First Nations jurisdiction over child and family services.
  • The proposed legislation was developed with input by the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) legislative working group, comprised of First Nations leaders, technicians and experts from across the country, drawing on years of advocacy and direction.

The initiative to develop this legislation was announced on November 30, 2018 by AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde, the former Indigenous Services Canada Minister and leaders of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and Métis National Council.

Our children are sacred.  They are gifts from the Creator.  They are the focus and center of our nations, and they deserve every opportunity to fulfil their dreams and succeed.  Decades of underfunding and misguided approaches have harmed our children and families.  Outdated laws and policies have created a situation where our children are grossly over-represented in the child welfare system. We need comprehensive reform across the system, and federal legislation is an essential piece of this reform.

On February 28, the federal government introduced legislation on Indigenous child welfare that recognizes our jurisdiction over child and family services. This follows years of pressure and advocacy for action and reform.  It is a major step toward regaining responsibility over our children.

Bill C-92, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Children, Youth and Families, was introduced in Parliament by Indigenous Services Canada Minister Seamus O’Regan. The AFN legislative working group, comprised of First Nations leaders, technicians and experts from across the country, had direct input into the development of this legislation.  The group drew from years of advocacy and direction to secure key clauses in respect to jurisdiction and prevention.  With a focus on the safety, security and future of First Nations children, this legislation recognizes First Nations jurisdiction to build systems based on First Nations governance, laws and policies. It is about recognizing First Nations jurisdiction as paramount over federal and provincial jurisdiction.  The goal is prevention over apprehension, and keeping our children close and connected to their cultures, healthy and loving families and nations.

The recognition of our jurisdiction is a critical and essential element of reform.  The legislation recognizes the right of First Nations to be responsible for child welfare as an inherent right under section 35 of Canada’s Constitution.  Based on First Nations direction, this legislation helps fill the “box of rights” in section 35.

There are two provisions in the proposed legislation that are key to First Nations and will take effect as soon as the law is passed – family unity, and automatic standing.  Family unity means that every placement of an Indigenous child can be reassessed under the new law. Automatic standing means that a family member will have legal standing in any cases before the courts and First Nations representatives may make representations to courts.

This legislation does not infringe on any existing agreements or impede existing processes that First Nations are working on, including recent agreements in regions across the country. Many First Nations have already built successful child welfare systems or are in the process of doing so. This legislation will give every First Nation the ability to build a system based on their laws, values and priorities.  Every government – federal, provincial and territorial – must work together with First Nations to ensure a seamless transition that supports and recognizes First Nations jurisdiction and ensures no child is left behind.

One area that requires continued advocacy is funding and investments to support our systems.  As you know, legislation never contains specific dollar amounts but this legislation does reference the need for funding in the preamble.  We must continue to advocate for the inclusion of explicit funding provisions that provide for equitable and sustained funding for First Nations.  We will continue to push on all fronts for the right investments to ensure our children are safe, secure and enjoy a fair start in life to pursue every opportunity before them.

I am proud of the efforts to date by everyone involved and want to see this legislation passed before the parliamentary session ends this June. There is some urgency to this work and I look forward to working with you to realize this longstanding goal.

This legislation is truly a new chapter for our children and families – one where we write the laws, policies and values that apply to our children regardless of where they reside. It’s time to end the epidemic of apprehension and ensure our children grow up with a strong connection to their families, nations, cultures and languages.  We can and will create a better day for our children and families.

The AFN is conducting a full review and analysis of the proposed legislation and we will make it available once complete.

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Roy WhiteduckNational Chief Perry Bellegarde Bulletin – March 2019

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Welcomes Tabling of Federal Legislation to Revitalize Indigenous Languages, Says the Bill Deserves Support from All Canadians and Parliamentarians

on February 5, 2019

February 5, 2019

Statement from National Chief Perry Bellegarde

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today welcomed the tabling in Parliament of the federal Indigenous Languages Act, saying it deserves the support of all Parliamentarians and all Canadians.

“This is landmark legislation to protect and strengthen Indigenous languages, the original languages of these lands, that embrace our identity, our worldview and our nationhood,” said National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “No Indigenous language in Canada is safe. But now there is hope. This legislation will support First Nations efforts to keep their languages alive, vital and strong. Canadians and all parliamentarians must support this Bill because we all understand that language is identity, languages is culture, language is life. There is no better way to mark 2019 – the International Year of Indigenous Languages – than to see the country that once tried to eliminate our languages enact a law to protect, promote and revitalize our languages.”

The Indigenous Languages Act was tabled today in the House of Commons with the aim of it becoming law before the end of the current Parliamentary session. The initiative to co-develop legislation to “protect, promote and revitalize Indigenous languages” was first announced by Prime Minister Trudeau in December 2016 at an AFN Assembly. The announcement was a response to years of advocacy by the AFN, National Chief Bellegarde and First Nations. The AFN helped co-develop the legislation to ensure that First Nation perspectives, priorities and rights were included in the legislation.

Last week on February 1st, National Chief Bellegarde spoke about the legislation in his remarks to the United Nations General Assembly as the North American Indigenous Representative: “We need legislation to ensure sufficient, sustainable and long-term funding toward the revitalization of our languages. We need schools on-reserve as well as in urban and rural settings to create and implement effective bilingual and immersion education programs beginning with pre-school age children. And we need programs that inspire all of our people to speak our languages, regardless of age, to renew the vibrancy of our communities as our cultural places. We want our languages to be our living languages – sourced from our lands, expressing our creation stories, and alive in our ceremonies and daily lives.”

The text of the National Chief’s remarks at the UN are available on the AFN website at www.afn.ca. The United Nations declared 2019 the International Year of Indigenous Languages to encourage urgent action to preserve, revitalize and promote Indigenous languages.

 

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

 

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For more information, please contact:

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

Monica Poirier
Bilingual Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext. 382
613-292-0857
[email protected]

read more
Roy WhiteduckAFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Welcomes Tabling of Federal Legislation to Revitalize Indigenous Languages, Says the Bill Deserves Support from All Canadians and Parliamentarians