News

“We Must Bring Justice and Healing to the Families Whose Children Never Made it Home from Residential Schools,” Says AFN NWT Regional Chief Yakeleya

on September 19, 2019

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) NWT Regional Chief Norman Yakeleya attended a presentation by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) yesterday on their work regarding Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Call to Action 72, which calls on the federal government to allocate sufficient resources to the NCTR to allow it to “develop and maintain the National Residential School Student Death Register” established by the TRC that compiles information about children who died while under the responsibility of Indian Residential School authorities. The NCTR has advised that it will be making this register available to the public in the near future.

“We must bring justice and healing to the families whose children never made it home from the residential schools,” said AFN NWT Regional Chief Yakeleya, who oversees this work for the AFN. “We have taken steps to work towards healing and justice for the living survivors with the Residential Schools Settlement Agreement and the Indian Day School Class Action Settlement.  Now we must take care of those who have passed or gone missing.  We know this is sensitive and significant work. We must ensure the families affected by this tragedy receive justice and healing.  We must address this dark chapter in our shared history.  Truth and justice are essential to reconciliation and I commend the NCTR’s efforts to develop and maintain this registry.  Today, my thoughts are with the memory and spirits of those who did not make it home.”

In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Missing Children and Unmarked Burials Working Group investigated the history of Indigenous children who died at Residential Schools. To date, the most accurate number available of deceased children is 4,200 as identified by the NCTR through named and unnamed death records. Calls to Action 72-76 emphasize the need to commemorate, document and protect burial sites and for the NCTR to develop and maintain a National Student Death Register established by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

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

For more information, please contact:

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

Michael Hutchinson
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext. 201
613-859-6831 (cell)
[email protected]

 

 

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Angie Turner“We Must Bring Justice and Healing to the Families Whose Children Never Made it Home from Residential Schools,” Says AFN NWT Regional Chief Yakeleya

Update on New Fiscal Relationship – National Chief Perry Bellegarde Bulletin

on September 19, 2019

September 2019

SUMMARY: 

  • The Joint Advisory Committee on Fiscal Relations (JACFR) presented their interim report, Honouring Our Ancestors by Trailblazing a Path to the Future, to the National Chief and Minister of Indigenous Services Canada in June 2019.
  • Consistent with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) resolution 24/2019, the JACFR, the AFN and ISC will engage extensively with First Nations on the report over the coming months and report back on their findings to Chiefs-in-Assembly at the AFN Annual General Assembly in July 2020.

pdf version

On June 10, 2019, the Joint Advisory Committee on Fiscal Relations (JACFR) presented their interim report, Honouring Our Ancestors by Trailblazing a Path to the Future, to Minister O’Regan of Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) and myself. A copy of that report is available on the Assembly of First Nations website at www.afn.ca/policy-sectors/fiscal-relations/

Both Minister O’Regan and I were impressed with the thorough and bold vision put forward by the Committee and we agreed that First Nations and the Government of Canada should give the report thorough consideration. Resolution 24/2019, Engage Extensively with First Nations on the Report of the Joint Advisory Committee on Fiscal Relations, passed at the recent Annual General Assembly (AGA) in Fredericton, calls on the JACFR, the AFN and ISC to engage extensively with First Nations about the report and bring back their findings to Chiefs-in-Assembly at the AFN Annual General Assembly in July 2020.

The report and the resolution both speak to the need to develop a structure that respects the diverse histories, circumstances and aspirations of First Nations from coast to coast to coast in ways that support and do not interfere with their path to self-determination. This will be a guiding principle of the engagements to roll out over the next year and whatever process follows. The vision is to develop a fiscal relationship that serves each First Nations path to a Nation to Nation and government to government relationship.

At the core of the vision of the JACFR report is the idea of a statutory transfer of funding to First Nations. A statutory transfer has been a key recommendation of studies such as the Penner Report in 1983, the report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples in 1996, various Auditor General Reports and resolutions of Chiefs-in-Assembly. As First Nations move toward affirmation, implementation and enforcement of inherent and Treaty rights, title and jurisdiction, our governments must have the fiscal capacity to assert that jurisdiction. A statutory transfer, perhaps similar in structure to those provided to provinces and territories, is essential to ensuring that fiscal capacity exists.

Specifically, a statutory transfer must be based in Treaty. It must fully meet needs, address our full membership regardless of residence or status, rise with cost drivers such as inflation, and must reflect a fair share of the wealth that comes from our lands and resources as measured in Canada’s Gross Domestic Product. The vision and structure put forward in the JACFR report achieves all of this and more.

The report also speaks to the necessary infrastructure to sustain statutory transfers that meet the objective of truly closing the socio-economic gap, by measuring funding against progress toward comparable outcomes. This includes capacity building for First Nations governments and developing institutions that both First Nations and Canada can trust to provide objective information to everyone about that progress as well as the investments needed to fulfill the federal government’s promise of “sufficient, predictable and sustainable funding”.

There is much more in the report and I encourage you to read it and discuss it with your experts and your citizens. I encourage you as well to work with the JACFR in setting up an engagement process that works for you. Some regional meetings have already taken place and the JACFR will be reaching out over the next few months about building an engagement process that works for you and provides them the feedback they need to report back in a meaningful way at the next AGA.

I want to thank the members of the JACFR for their good work and their commitment in moving forward with this process: Chief Richard Sydney, Chief David Jimmie, Chief Lee Crowchild, Vice-Chief Heather Bear, Richard Nerysoo, Chief Laurie Carr, Chief Connie Lazore, John G. Paul, Don Drummond, Kevin Page, Bonnie Healy, Terry Goodtrack, and Harold Calla.

For more information about this report and the work on a new fiscal relationship, please contact Dan Wilson, Special Advisor at [email protected].

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Roy WhiteduckUpdate on New Fiscal Relationship – National Chief Perry Bellegarde Bulletin

The Government of Canada announces the coming into force of an Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families

on September 10, 2019

News release
Indigenous Services Canada

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Roy WhiteduckThe Government of Canada announces the coming into force of an Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families

The AFN Launches Honouring Promises: 2019 Election Priorities for First Nations and Canada

on September 9, 2019

(Ottawa, ON) – Today, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde launched Honouring Promises: 2019 Federal Election Priorities for First Nations and Canada to provide a path forward for parties and candidates in the federal election. The document identifies a comprehensive set of commitments federal parties must make to First Nations to work together to build a stronger Canada.

“This country was founded on promises between First Nations and the newcomers to share the land and work together in the spirit of partnership and mutual respect,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “First Nations want federal parties to commit to the promises we are setting out today so we can move forward together. Our plan is ambitious and bold because we are making progress and we must maintain momentum. Canadians understand that First Nations priorities are Canada’s priorities. Honouring these promises will benefit everyone.”

Honouring Promises begins with a call for action on the global priority of climate change and preserving the natural world – a promise to the next seven generations. It shows how to build a stronger Canada through healthy and educated First Nations citizens living in safe and secure communities, and fully participating in the economy in ways that strengthen the national economy and sustain the environment.

Honouring Promises speaks to justice for First Nations, and a Canada where First Nations law is recognized as equal to common law and civil law, where First Nations rights and Treaties are recognized, respected and implemented.

“This election is taking place at a turning point in our shared history,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “This is our time to commit to action to save our planet and ourselves, to commit to ensure all children are equipped to build a prosperous future, and to commit to a promise that health, education, the economy and justice systems will work for everyone. The plan we call Honouring Promises points the way to real, transformative change. The time to act is now.”

The Honouring Promises: 2019 Federal Election Priorities for First Nations and Canada document, and other information on First Nations priorities and concerns, can be found on the AFN’s website here.

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

For more information, please contact:

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

Michael Hutchinson
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext. 201
613-859-6831 (cell)
[email protected] 

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Angie TurnerThe AFN Launches Honouring Promises: 2019 Election Priorities for First Nations and Canada

AFN Secures Major Victory and Compensation for First Nations Children and Families at Human Rights Tribunal

on September 6, 2019

September 6, 2019

(Ottawa, ON): Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde said today’s ruling by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) is a major victory for fairness and justice that must be respected by Canada. The decision secures compensation for First Nations children unnecessarily apprehended and those denied essential services.

“The AFN will always stand up and fight for First Nations children and families. This ruling is another important victory,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. “This is about our children, their safety, their right to be with their families, kin and communities and their right to quality of care. No government should be fighting these fundamental values. We have to work together to give life to this ruling, just as we worked together to secure First Nations control over child welfare with the passing of Bill C-92 in the last session of Parliament. This is about forging a brighter future for First Nations children, and that’s good for all Canadians.”

The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal decision follows a hearing on April 25 and 26, 2019. The CHRT agreed with the AFN’s submissions and has ordered Canada to provide compensation of up to $40,000 to:

  • all First Nation children who were unnecessarily apprehended on or after January 1, 2006
  • all parents or grandparents of children unnecessarily apprehended on or after January 1, 2006
  • all children denied an essential service (Jordan’s Principle) between December 12, 2007 and November 2, 2017

It is estimated that approximately 54,000 children could benefit from this ruling. Individuals can opt out of the compensation scheme, and a process is to be established to provide compensation for minors upon reaching the age of majority. The CHRT has ordered Canada to begin discussions with the AFN and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, partners in the joint complaint at the CHRT, to establish an independent process for distributing compensation to the children and parents or grandparents covered by this decision.

AFN Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin Hart, who oversees the Child Welfare portfolio for AFN, said Canada’s response to the ruling will indicate whether or not there is commitment to reconciliation and justice for First Nations children and families: “We are urging Canada not to seek a judicial review of this ruling, and to work with us to implement it. The CHRT has issued seven compliance orders against Canada since its original ruling in January 2016. It is time for Canada to stop obstructing fairness and justice for First Nation children and provide them the care and opportunity they deserve. Today is a good day for First Nations children and we will continue to protect and stand up for them.”

Bill C-92, An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families, affirms First Nations jurisdiction over First Nations child welfare and creates space for First Nations laws and practices regarding their families. Jordan’s Principle is a child-first principle ensuring First Nations children get necessary services when they need them, and that these services are not denied because of jurisdictional disputes. It is named in memory of Jordan River Anderson, a First Nations child from the Norway House Cree Nation in Manitoba.

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

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For more information please contact:

Michael Hutchinson
Senior Communication Advisor
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext. 244
613-859-6831 (cell)
[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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Angie TurnerAFN Secures Major Victory and Compensation for First Nations Children and Families at Human Rights Tribunal

Assembly of First Nations Convenes its First Ever National Cannabis Summit – Delegates will Address Key Issues of Jurisdiction, Health, and Social and Economic Impacts

on September 4, 2019

(Vancouver, B.C.) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde and AFN British Columbia Regional Chief Terry Teegee addressed delegates today at the AFN’s first ever National Cannabis Summit in Vancouver, B.C. The Summit is one of the most comprehensive examinations of the implications and issues surrounding First Nations and legal cannabis.

“This Summit is about First Nations directly addressing the many issues related to legal cannabis that were not addressed by the federal government in implementing this new regime,” said AFN Regional Chief Terry Teegee, who oversees this portfolio for AFN. “We’ll be examining critical issues related to revenue sharing, trade, health and social impacts and more. The purpose of this Summit is to provide the best and most current information on all aspects of legal cannabis so First Nations can make informed decisions. The government excluded us from this important dialogue and we are filling the space and finding ways forward that will respect First Nations rights and jurisdiction.”

Hundreds of First Nations leaders and citizens, along with experts in health, economics, the law, and social development are gathered in Vancouver over the next two days for the National Cannabis Summit. Cannabis became legal in Canada on October 17, 2018 when the Cannabis Act and related legislation came into force. The federal government did not fully engage or consult with First Nations on how its proposed legislation would ensure respect and implementation of First Nations rights, title and jurisdiction.

“The AFN National Cannabis Summit is one of the most comprehensive examinations of First Nations and cannabis to date,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “It is an opportunity for First Nations to discuss, dialogue and share their views. First Nations have diverse views on legal cannabis but we all agree that governments must recognize and respect our jurisdiction. The AFN will advocate and support First Nations who want to assert and exercise their jurisdiction in this area, and fully support those First Nations who do not want to participate.”

The AFN National Cannabis Summit is being held September 4-5, 2019 in Vancouver, British Columbia on the territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.

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

For more information, please contact:

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

Michael Hutchinson
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext. 201
613-859-6831 (cell)
[email protected] 

 

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Sid LeeAssembly of First Nations Convenes its First Ever National Cannabis Summit – Delegates will Address Key Issues of Jurisdiction, Health, and Social and Economic Impacts

AFN National Chief Bellegarde Wants Immediate Action to Stop Devastation in the Amazon and a Commitment from Canada to Act Now on the Climate Crisis

on August 25, 2019

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde wants Brazil and all countries to take immediate action to stop the fires that are devastating the Amazon, and for all federal party leaders in Canada to commit to work with First Nations on a national plan to address the climate crisis with specific actions and measurable targets.

“We must act now to stop the fires in the Amazon rainforest and if this requires international pressure at the G7 meeting and other forums then Indigenous peoples around the world support that,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “The climate crisis – climate destruction – is our number one priority. Everything hinges on a livable world and a healthy environment for our children. It is an emergency and First Nations can be first responders. Every leader of every political party in Canada needs to commit now to work with First Nations on a national action plan with specific targets and progress that can be measured and assessed. In the Amazon and here in our homelands, climate destruction is an immediate threat to Indigenous lives, Indigenous rights and Indigenous territories.”

Currently, there are an estimated 75,000 fires raging in the Amazon.  Deforestation in the region has increased by at least 80% over the past year.  Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, ran on a platform of deforestation which is pushing farmers, ranchers and miners deeper and deeper into the rainforest.  The Amazon is an important source of the Earth’s oxygen, and Brazil is home to 60% of the Amazon and more than 300 Indigenous tribes.

National Chief Bellegarde pointed to the Paris Agreement as the roadmap forward, stating, “The Paris Agreement sets out a positive and progressive plan of action. It is the first climate change agreement that commits countries to ambitious climate action, while respecting the rights of Indigenous peoples. First Nations are the first to feel the impacts of climate change and we are dealing with forest fires, flooding and loss of animal and plant life in our territories.  Meeting our targets under the Paris Agreement requires a focused and sustained effort but those targets must not be seen as aspirational or optional.  They are literally a matter of life and death. We are out of time. First Nations are ready to work with all governments to act now.”

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

For more information, please contact:

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

Michael Hutchinson
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext. 201
613-859-6831 (cell)
[email protected] 

 

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Angie TurnerAFN National Chief Bellegarde Wants Immediate Action to Stop Devastation in the Amazon and a Commitment from Canada to Act Now on the Climate Crisis

Court Approval on the Indian Day School Class Action Settlement is a Step Towards Reconciliation, says AFN National Chief

on August 21, 2019

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde calls yesterday’s Federal Court announcement approving the Indian Day School class action settlement an important step towards reconciliation and healing for former students and their families.

“We stand with the survivors and their families in their fight for justice and healing,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. “This settlement is a step towards reconciliation and justice for all those who suffered as a result of compulsory attendance at these federal government run institutions. This settlement will help survivors and their families, and will help Canadians understand our shared history and the path forward.  Truth and justice are essential in our move towards healing and reconciliation.”

The AFN has fully supported the Indian Day School class action and the proposed Indian Day Schools Settlement to compensate the Indigenous children who attended Day Schools.  The class action was brought on behalf of two classes: the Survivor Class, which includes all Indigenous persons who attended an Indian Day School from 1920 onwards and the Family Class, which includes all spouses, former spouses, children, grandchildren and siblings of a member of the Survivor Class. As many as 140,000 claimants are eligible to receive between $10,000 and $200,000 based on the abuse suffered. A legacy fund will also be established for healing initiatives.

“Today is a good day for the survivors and families who attended the Indian Day Schools,” said AFN NWT Regional Chief Norman Yakeleya, who oversees this portfolio for the AFN.  “I want to acknowledge a true warrior, the late Garry McLean, one of the lead plaintiffs in the Indian Day School Lawsuit, who with his colleagues fought tirelessly to ensure former students and their families would receive restitution for the harms done. Garry is not with us to witness this historic day, but this is part of his legacy. This marks one small step towards justice and a huge leap towards reconciliation.”

The Indian Day School class action was filed by Joan Jack Law Office on July 31, 2009. Following significant delays, Gowling WLG became the firm representing the claimants for the class action.  Claimants have a 90-day opt-out period and a 60-day appeal period which has now commenced. The deadline to opt-out is November 18, 2019.

More information on the settlement can be found at: https://indiandayschools.com

 

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

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For more information, please contact:

 

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

Michael Hutchinson
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-241-6789 ext. 201
613-859-6831 (cell)
[email protected] 

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Roy WhiteduckCourt Approval on the Indian Day School Class Action Settlement is a Step Towards Reconciliation, says AFN National Chief

Assembly of First Nations Offers Condolences to the family of Elder Tony Cote

on August 2, 2019

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today offered condolences to the family and friends of Elder Tony Cote, a highly respected veteran, Knowledge Keeper, First Nations advocate and past Chief of Cote First Nation in Saskatchewan.

“On behalf of the AFN Executive Committee, we offer our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Tony Cote, the citizens of Cote First Nation and all those who knew and worked with him throughout the years” said National Chief Perry Bellegarde.  “Elder Cote will be remembered as a well-respected leader and advocate for First Nations rights and for First Nations veterans, a man who dedicated his life to ensuring all First Nations youth had the best opportunities to advance and participate in sports and recreation.  Tony was instrumental in organizing the Saskatchewan First Nations Summer Games. In a tribute to his work and achievements, they were renamed in his honour in 2017 as the Tony Cote First Nations Summer Games and the Tony Cote First Nations Winter Games.  He encouraged First Nations youth to come together and to work hard to achieve their goals.  We lift him up and offer our thoughts and prayers to his loved ones.”

Elder Tony Cote passed away at the age of 84 on July 31, 2019. Cote was a survivor of the St. Phillips Residential School and at 17 joined the Canadian Armed forces.  He was elected Chief of the Cote First Nation and served two terms.

Memorial services for Elder Tony Cote will be held on Sunday, August 4, 2019 and the funeral will be held in Cote First Nation at 10 a.m. Monday, August 5, 2019.

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

For more information, please contact: 

Monica Poirier
Bilingual Communications Officer
613-292-0857 (Cell)
[email protected]

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Sid LeeAssembly of First Nations Offers Condolences to the family of Elder Tony Cote
Assembly of First Nations
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