News

NATIONAL CHIEF PERRY BELLEGARDE BULLETIN – Federal Budget and Comprehensive Claims Funding

on March 22, 2019

March 2019

SUMMARY: 

  • The federal budget tabled on March 19 includes a commitment to forgive and reimburse First Nations loans accumulated through the negotiation of comprehensive claims.
  • I advocated for this commitment along with First Nations as a move consistent with our rights, title and jurisdiction, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This is a move in the right direction.

In follow-up to the AFN’s Federal Budget Bulletin issued earlier, I am providing this Bulletin to highlight a specific and important move in the recently tabled budget.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples states in article 27 that First Nations have the right to access “a fair, independent, impartial, open and transparent process” to address their land rights and claims, and that we have the right to participate in this process.

Consistent with this article and consistent with our rights, title and jurisdiction, the AFN has been advocating forcefully for this principle to be applied by Canada.  I have explicitly conveyed this to the federal government many times, including a June 1, 2018 letter to Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Bennett. This is about nothing less than compelling the federal government to uphold the honour of the Crown with regards to the restitution of First Nation lands.

The recent federal budget commits $1.4 billion dollars over 7 years to forgive and reimburse First Nations for loans accumulated from negotiating comprehensive claims agreements. This builds on our victory in last year’s federal budget, which finally ended the unjust practice of forcing First Nations into increasing financial debt while negotiating a federal land claim. That approach was replaced with non-repayable contribution agreements.

The recent commitment to forgive all loans and repay those that have already been paid back is an important next step in ensuring First Nations are able to negotiate on an equal footing with the Crown.  I maintain that First Nations should not have to pay for the rightful restitution of our lands and traditional territories. With your ongoing support, we will continue to move forward towards full recognition of our rights and reconstituting our lands and traditional territories. I thank you for your support in this work.

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Roy WhiteduckNATIONAL CHIEF PERRY BELLEGARDE BULLETIN – Federal Budget and Comprehensive Claims Funding

ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS BULLETIN – Federal Budget 2019

on March 22, 2019

March 2019

Budget 2019 Investment Areas


SUMMARY: 

  • The federal budget was tabled in the House of Commons on March 19, 2019.
  • Budget 2019 includes 24 measures for Indigenous peoples, totalling approximately $4.7 billion. More than $4.4 billion has been identified for First Nations.
  • Investments over the last four budgets total more than $21 billion, which is four times what the Kelowna Accord committed to in 2006.

Budget 2019 identifies important sustained investments for First Nations, a result of sustained advocacy by the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and First Nations. These investments are good for First Nations and Canada.  AFN’s advocacy is garnering results and while we must continue to seek investments to close the gap between First Nations and Canada, we are seeing progress in priority areas as a result of the total investment of more than $21 billion over the past four budget cycles.

The federal budget released March 19, 2019 includes 24 measures for Indigenous peoples, totalling approximately $4.7 billion.  The investments are aimed at a range of initiatives, including, languages, post-secondary education, education, economic participation, emergency management, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action such as the National Council for Reconciliation, water and well-being.  This federal budget also provides loan forgiveness and reimbursement to First Nations in the area of comprehensive claims, and funding for research in specific claims.  Investments over the last four budgets total more than $21 billion. That is four times what the Kelowna Accord ($5.1 billion) committed in 2006.

Here is a breakdown of Budget 2019 investments for First Nations. The attached chart provides further detail:

$1.2 billion over 3 years for Jordan’s Principle

This new investment reflects the ongoing commitment to uphold and fully implement Jordan’s Principle and supplements the federal government’s work with First Nations to develop a long-term approach to improving services for First Nations children via Jordan’s Principle.  AFN continues to advocate for greater First Nations control of Jordan’s Principle to ensure First Nations children have access to child-centered, needs-based and First Nations-based programs and services wherever they reside.

$739 million over 5 years for water

The majority of this investment builds on previous investments to eliminate boil water advisories by funding operations and maintenance to prevent First Nations from ending up on boil water advisories again.

$333.7 million over 5 years +  $115.7 million ongoing to implement Indigenous Languages Act

This investment will support the implementation of Bill C-91, which is currently before the House of Commons.  AFN has pressed for the revitalization and strengthening of First Nations languages – to keep our people connected to our cultures and to ensure our children are healthy and are strong in their identity. The goal is for the Indigenous Languages Act to become law by June 2019 (within this parliamentary session) and within the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages (2019).

$327.7 million over 5 years for post-secondary education

This investment helps reduce the existing wait list of First Nations post-secondary students (currently about 10,000). Without continued investments, however, the wait list will continue to grow as more and more  of our students graduate from high school.  AFN continues its work with the federal government to ensure the implementation of recommendations made by First Nations through the federal review of First Nations post-secondary education.  This work includes facilitating the drafting of a new federal policy for First Nations post-secondary education with the intent of securing adequate funding and supports for post-secondary students and First Nations institutions of higher learning.

Loan forgiveness and reimbursement for comprehensive claims and research for specific claims

This investment pertains to any loan taken by a First Nation for the negotiation of comprehensive claims and self-government, including any loans that were taken and paid back by the First Nation. These loans will be forgiven or, where they have already been paid, they will be reimbursed.  National Chief Bellegarde, AFN and First Nations in BC, the Yukon and Northwest Territories pressed hard for this commitment and this is a step in the right direction.  First Nations should not have to pay for the restoration of our rightful land base.

$127 million to create the National Council for Reconciliation

This is a one-time funding commitment to create the National Council for Reconciliation, the key accountability mechanism identified in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and its Calls to Action.

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Roy WhiteduckASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS BULLETIN – Federal Budget 2019

2019 Federal Budget Provides Sustained Investments for Continued Momentum and Progress for First Nations: AFN National Chief Bellegarde

on March 19, 2019

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde says the federal budget tabled today in Ottawa includes key sustained investments that continue to support success for First Nations children and First Nations governments.

“This federal budget shows important and sustained investments to advance First Nations priorities as a result of sustained advocacy by First Nations and the AFN, and that’s good for First Nations and Canada,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “The investments in First Nations children through Jordan’s Principle, funding for First Nations languages, safe drinking water, emergency services, land claims, economic development and other areas will help close the gap between First Nations and the rest of Canada. They will build healthier First Nations, stronger governments and a stronger Canada. Now it’s time to keep up the momentum to ensure we see results on the ground – in our nations, in our homes and in our families.”

The federal budget released today includes 24 measures for Indigenous peoples, totalling approximately $4.7 billion aimed at a range of initiatives, including languages, post-secondary education, education, economic participation, emergency management, implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, water, health and well-being. The budget also identifies commitments to loan forgiveness and reimbursement in the area of comprehensive claims and funding for research in specific claims. Specific commitments to support Jordan’s Principle will supplement AFN’s ongoing advocacy efforts for adequate support for its implementation.

Investments over the last four budgets total more than $21 billion, which is four times what the Kelowna Accord committed to in 2006.

AFN is conducting a full analysis on investments and will be made available in coming days.

 

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:

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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Roy Whiteduck2019 Federal Budget Provides Sustained Investments for Continued Momentum and Progress for First Nations: AFN National Chief Bellegarde

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 Bellegarde Says First Nations Responsibility for Child Welfare Key to New Legislation, Urges Investments to Support New Approach

on February 28, 2019

(Ottawa, ON) – Following the introduction of federal legislation on Indigenous child welfare today in Parliament, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde said that First Nations children are the first priority and any legislation must ensure they grow up valued and connected to their families, cultures and nations.

“This legislation is first and foremost about First Nations children and their safety, their security and their future,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. “The tragedy of thousands of First Nations children in care tells us we need a new approach. This legislation will recognize First Nations jurisdiction so they can build their own systems based on their own governance, laws and policies. Our focus has to be on prevention over apprehension, and keeping children close to their cultures and families.  We need investments to support this work, and we need everyone to support this approach. The time is long overdue for First Nations to finally regain responsibility over our children.”

Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O’Regan introduced the proposed federal legislation this morning in the House of Commons.  The legislation was developed with input by the AFN legislative working group comprised of technicians and experts from across the country drawing on years of advocacy and direction.

“First Nations value our children and want to keep them in the centre of the circle of our families and nations,” said AFN Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin Hart, who leads AFN’s work in this area.  “We have our traditional laws, approaches and protocols that will guide our work in setting up systems to care for our children, keep them safe and ensure they learn and live their cultures and languages. It is time for all governments to work with First Nations to ensure a seamless transition so that no child is left behind.  We must all commit to this work on the understanding that our children are at the heart of our efforts.”

On November 30, 2018, National Chief Bellegarde stood with former Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott and the leaders of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and Métis National Council to announce work aimed at introducing the federal legislation on Indigenous child and family services.

January 26 marked three years since the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled the federal government discriminates against First Nations children and families on reserve. Last January former Indigenous Services Minister Philpott convened an emergency meeting of First Nation, Métis and Inuit leaders, provincial and territorial representatives and child welfare experts and committed the federal government to six points of action which included co-developed legislation on Indigenous child welfare.

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

 

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For media requests or more information, please contact:

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

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Roy WhiteduckAFN National Chief Bellegarde Says First Nations Responsibility for Child Welfare Key to New Legislation, Urges Investments to Support New Approach

AFN National Chief Says Safe Drinking Water and Proper Sanitation for First Nations is a Human Right at AFN Annual Water Symposium

on February 26, 2019

February 26, 2019

(Niagara Falls, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde addressed delegates this morning at the opening of the 2nd Annual Water Symposium and Tradeshow in Niagara Falls, Ontario, calling for a new approach and new investments to ensure that First Nations families have safe drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.

“There is much work to be done to address the serious and urgent water and wastewater issues facing First Nations children and families,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “This is a priority. This is about the health and safety of our citizens who are being denied a basic human right. We need significant investments in water and wastewater infrastructure, repeal and replacement of the Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act and new legislation co-developed with First Nations that actually results in safe drinking water. The situations many First Nations are facing would not be tolerated anywhere else in this country. First Nations have the solutions and the work over the next three days will help guide the work that lies ahead”.

Many First Nations in Canada are facing water and wastewater issues, boil water advisories and poor sanitation. A new approach supported by new investments is needed. The three day Symposium that opened today will focus on recent developments and approaches that impact First Nations and water and highlight innovative approaches driven by First Nations. The event includes plenary addresses from First Nations leaders and experts, government representatives, and a keynote presentation from Te Pou Tupua, the official voice of the Whanganui River located in Aotearoa/New Zealand, established under the Whanganui River Treaty settlement as the first river ever to possess formal legal personhood.

“This Symposium is an important opportunity for dialogue that will lead to action to ensure First Nations have equity in water, quality standards and equity in water access” said Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald and AFN Water Portfolio Holder.  “Many First Nations in Canada continue to deal with unsafe drinking water, boil water advisories and inadequate sanitation.  In a time of reconciliation, access to safe water is a human right and essential in order to build healthy communities”.

The AFN 2nd Annual National Water Symposium and Tradeshow is being held in Niagara Falls, Ontario, from February 26 to 28, 2019.  The Symposium is targeted to First Nations leaders or their representatives, Community Housing and Infrastructure Councillors, Water Operators, Community Water Monitors, Tribal Councils, Provincial/Territorial Organizations, and federal and provincial officials involved in water or wastewater infrastructure.

 

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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For more information, please contact:

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

 

 

 

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Roy WhiteduckAFN National Chief Says Safe Drinking Water and Proper Sanitation for First Nations is a Human Right at AFN Annual Water Symposium

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Congratulates NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh on Election Victory

on February 26, 2019

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today congratulates NDP leader Jagmeet Singh on his electoral victory in the riding of Burnaby South, B.C.

“I congratulate the NDP leader and the new Member of Parliament for Burnaby South, Jagmeet Singh, on his victory today,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “I have met with Mr. Singh many times and I know he understands the importance of working together to build strong First Nations and a stronger country for all of us. He has attended a number of AFN Assemblies and has demonstrated a commitment to listening and engaging directly with First Nations. I look forward to working with him at this critical time to advance some key legislative priorities that will support First Nations languages, First Nations children, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and protection for the environment.”

Jagmeet Singh was elected today as MP for the riding of Burnaby South in British Columbia. He became leader of the federal New Democratic Party in October 2017.

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:

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

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Roy WhiteduckAFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Congratulates NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh on Election Victory

ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS BULLETIN – Tabling of an Act respecting Indigenous languages in the House of Commons

on February 7, 2019

February 2019

Bill C-91: Act respecting Indigenous languages

On February 5, 2019, AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde welcomed the tabling of Bill C-91, an Act respecting Indigenous languages. The objective of the Bill, also known as the Indigenous Languages Act, is to reclaim, revitalize, strengthen and maintain Indigenous languages in Canada. Here is some key information about the Bill.

The preamble of the Bill:

  • reiterates that the Government of Canada is committed to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration), including the affirmation of Indigenous language rights
  • recognizes that Indigenous languages played a significant role in the establishment of Indigenous-European relations
  • acknowledges the contribution of discriminatory policies, such as residential schools, in eroding Indigenous languages
  • respects that Indigenous languages are fundamental to Indigenous identities, cultures, spirituality, relationships to the land, world views and self-determination
  • recognizes the Government of Canada’s role in supporting the work of entities with a mandate to promote the use of Indigenous languages and to support Indigenous peoples in reclaiming, maintaining and strengthening their languages
  • acknowledges that the control and initiative to lead Indigenous language reclamation, revitalization, maintenance, and strengthening is best placed in the hands of Indigenous peoples

The key purposes of the Act are:

  • the promotion of the use of Indigenous languages
  • the support of a multifaceted approach to Indigenous language revitalization including, but not limited to, language nests and immersion programs
  • the establishment of measures for adequate, sustainable and long-term funding
  • the establishment of mechanisms to work with provinces, territories, Indigenous representative organizations and Indigenous governments to create effective support for Indigenous languages in Canada
  • respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action 13 to 15,
  • advance the UN Declaration as it relates to Indigenous languages

The Act includes recognition and protection of language rights:

  • The Act states that: “The Government of Canada recognizes that the rights of Indigenous peoples recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 include rights related to Indigenous languages”.

The Act responds to First Nations’ calls for funding for Indigenous languages:

  • First Nations made funding a clear priority throughout the engagement process.
  • Bill C-91 addresses funding requirements in three places and obligates the Minister to consult with Indigenous peoples, governments and organizations to provide “adequate, sustainable, and long-term funding for the reclamation, revitalization, maintenance and strengthening of Indigenous languages.”

The Act establishes an Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages:

  • The Office would be an independent, arms-length entity working outside of the federal government.
  • The Commissioner must be appointed through an order in council and in consultation with Indigenous governments, governing bodies, and organizations.
  • It is mandated to support Indigenous communities, governments, and/or governing bodies in their efforts to reclaim, revitalize, maintain, and strengthen Indigenous languages.
  • The Commissioner must review complaints related to Indigenous language agreements, funding, obligations of the Government of Canada under the Act, and in the implementation of the Act. Following the review, the Commissioner must prepare a report with concrete recommendations.

The Act includes provisions for regulation and rule-making:

  • Legislation requires the Minister to conduct consultations to ensure that the unique circumstances and needs of Indigenous peoples, groups and communities are considered.

A Five-year Review:

  • An independent review of the Act is required five years after the entry into force of the proposed legislation and every five years thereafter.

Immediate next steps

The legislation received first reading. After it has gone to second reading in the House of Commons, the proposed Act is referred to a Standing Committee. While at Committee, interested parties can submit their views and suggestions to the Committee to consider as amendments to the Bill.

Towards implementation

Co-development will continue on an inclusive basis to address implementation requirements. In preparing for the implementation of the legislation, co-development efforts will prioritize funding measures, operationalizing the Office of the Commissioner, and supporting capacity building in relation to regional entities to assist local efforts in language assessments and language revitalization initiatives. The objective is for the proposed Indigenous Languages Act to become law by June, 2019, and before the upcoming general federal election.

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Roy WhiteduckASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS BULLETIN – Tabling of an Act respecting Indigenous languages in the House of Commons

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
Assembly of First Nations
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