News

National Chief Bulletin – Update on federal engagement for a Bill to advance implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

on November 16, 2020

SUMMARY

  • In early October, the federal Department of Justice (DoJ) initiated an engagement process respecting a proposed federal Bill to advance implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration).
  • The focus of federal engagement with First Nations has been on a draft bill closely based on former private member’s Bill C-262 (United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act), with a few technical amendments. (See Attachments 1-English and 2-French)
  • On September 23, 2020 a briefing package was provided to the AFN Executive flagging that the launch of federal engagement with First Nations organizations was imminent. The federal engagement process has been extended into November.
  • On November 12, 2020, DoJ hosted an ‘Ad Hoc Table of Federal-Provincial-Territorial Ministers and Indigenous Leaders on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples’. I attended this meeting, along with several First Nations leaders, federal-provincial-territorial representatives and the national leadership of ITK and MNC.
  • DoJ’s consultative draft bill may be amended following conclusion of the engagement process in preparation for tabling a Bill before the end of 2020.

 

BACKGROUND:

  • In 2007, following more than 25 years of global advocacy by First Nations and other Indigenous peoples, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (the Declaration) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Since then, the UNGA has reaffirmed the Declaration at least eleven times.
  • Chiefs-in-Assembly ratified the Declaration by Resolution 37/2007; committed to its full implementation; welcomed the support of the Liberal Party of Canada, the New Democratic Party and the Bloc Quebecois and demanded that the Government of Canada commit to implement the Declaration in full cooperation with Indigenous peoples.
  • In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC), issued its final report and called on federal, provincial and municipal governments to adopt and implement the Declaration. By Resolution, Chiefs-in-Assembly supported the full implementation of all the TRC Calls to Action.
  • In 2017, Chiefs-in-Assembly passed Resolution 97-2017 calling on all federal parliamentarians to support Bill C-262 (United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act). This Bill was sponsored by then NDP MP, Romeo Saganash.
  • In its final report, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls called for the full implementation of the Declaration and passage of legislation like Bill C-262.
  • In 2018, Bill C-262 was passed by the House of Commons. However, in June of that year, it failed to pass in the Senate of Canada. This was due to a Conservative filibuster preventing it from moving to third reading and passage.
  • Following this, Chiefs-in-Assembly passed Resolution 86/2019 (Federal Legislation to create a Framework for Implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples). This resolution calls for: 1) a collaborative process to introduce legislation to implement the Declaration as government legislation by the end of 2020; 2) ensuring such legislation fully respects the Declaration; and 3) establishes the content of Bill C-262 as the floor rather than the ceiling.
  • In 2019, First Nations in B.C. and the Government of British Columbia worked together to see Bill 41, Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act passed unanimously.
  • In both the 2019, and the 2020, Speech from the Throne, the Liberal government committed to introduce federal legislation by the end of 2020. It has also publicly committed on several occasions to ensuring that a government bill will be at least as strong as Bill C-262 (Bill C-262 must be “the floor” of any government bill.
  • AFN Executive Committee Motion 2019-12 called for the creation of a Legal Team to engage with the DoJ on the federal UN Declaration Legislation initiative. The AFN Legal Team has engaged with DoJ lawyers under Non-Disclosure Agreements and Confidentiality Undertakings.
  • As National Chief, I have advocated for introduction of a Bill at least as strong as former Private Member’s Bill C-262 and the passage of such a Bill to Royal Assent as quickly as possible.

 

CURRENT STATUS:

  • Towards, implementing Resolution 86-2019, I have secured the support of the federal Liberal Party, the NDP, the Bloc Quebecois and the Green Party for the objective stated in AFN Resolution 86-2019 – a government bill that is at least as strong as Bill C-262 and tabled before the end of 2020.
  • In late September 2020, the DoJ launched an engagement process primarily focused on Indigenous peoples. The focus of engagement with First Nations has been on a federal consultative draft (Attachments 1-English and 2-French) reflecting the content of former private member’s Bill C-262. There are a few technical amendments. DoJ has confirmed that the purpose of the federal engagement with First Nations is to consider enhancements to strengthen the content which follows closely that of Bill C-262.
  • DoJ has engaged with provinces/territories and held roundtables with some industry stakeholders, to raise awareness and education on the Declaration and its implementation.
  • On November 12, 2020, the federal government held a federal-provincial-territorial ministerial level meeting with national and First Nations leadership as an opportunity to share perspectives on this initiative. This meeting allowed a frank exchange of views but did not involve any negotiations.
  • The AFN regularly requests that the DoJ proactively provide information on their engagement process. There have been some challenges in receiving information in a timely manner. Information on engagements held to date are attached in Attachment 3.
  • The AFN has been involved in the engagement process as a national organization. AFN lawyers have engaged with DoJ and CIRNA officials to ensure they understand technical aspects of the Declaration and its current legal effect; and to suggest options for enhancing the consultative draft. The AFN has told the federal government to keep its focus on engagement with First Nations in accordance with the Declaration, rather than provinces, territories or industry. The federal government has indicated that the purpose of its engagement is to enhance or strengthen the consultative draft through input from Indigenous peoples.
  • Additional background about this initiative is available on the AFN Website at https://www.afn.ca/policy-sectors/implementing-the-united-nations-declaration-on-the-rights-of-indigenous-peoples/

 

NEXT STEPS:

  • In response to First Nations advocacy, the federal government has repeatedly affirmed a commitment to table a government bill by the end of 2020, that is at least as strong as former Bill C-262.
  • DoJ’s consultative draft may change following conclusion of the engagement process in preparation for tabling a Bill before the end of 2020.
  • Once a Bill is tabled, the AFN will analyze its content measured against Chiefs-in-Assembly Resolutions and will share updates with First Nations.
  • Once in Parliament, it would be referred to a Parliamentary Committee for study.
  • There would be several challenges ahead:
  • The Official Opposition (the Conservative Party of Canada) is likely not to be supportive of the legislation. As it has been the only federal party opposed. The Conservatives and again may resort to filibuster techniques as they did with Bill C-262
  • The federal Parliamentary process is still hampered somewhat by COVID-19 restrictions and therefore, is slower
  • Some Provinces will likely continue to try to influence the federal government to weaken the language of a Bill
  • Time – the ever-shortening Parliamentary window to get a Bill tabled, then passed by the House of Commons and the Senate before June 2021 (if the minority Liberal government survives that long).

 

ATTACHMENTS:

1) Federal Consultative Draft-English
2) Federal Consultative Draft-French
3) UN Declaration Regional Engagement Meetings To-Date
4) National Chief Statement at Ad Hoc Table of FPTI Leaders on the UN Declaration
on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

5) DoJ Final Engagement Deck-English
6) DoJ Final Engagement Deck-French

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Celso CercadoNational Chief Bulletin – Update on federal engagement for a Bill to advance implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

AFN National Chief Bellegarde welcomes emergency COVID funding for First Nations Early Learning and Child Care

on October 30, 2020

(Ottawa, ON) – National Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) welcomes Canada’s announcement of emergency funding for Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care (ELCC) to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. Today’s announcement committed to investing approximately $70 million over the 2020-21 fiscal year to support First Nations ELCC providers to safely reopen and deliver programs and services for First Nations children and families during the pandemic.

“Today’s announcement acknowledges the important role that First Nations early learning and child care programs play in developing happy and healthy First Nations children. The pandemic has exacerbated systemic disadvantages for First Nations, making these programs that support our children’s wellbeing more important than ever. COVID-19 has complicated how programs are delivered, but the safety of the providers and participants has continued to be a top priority,” National Chief Bellegarde said. “This funding will help First Nations early learning and child care service providers adjust to the realities of COVID-19 and continue to deliver these important programs in a safe way.”

Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin Hart holds the Social Development portfolio at the AFN and says that the funding not only will help First Nations ELCC programs reopen safely when they are ready, but also recognizes the work they have done throughout the pandemic.

“We want to lift up the staff and management at our First Nations early learning and child care programs. They have done amazing work supporting our children and families during the pandemic,” Regional Chief Hart said. “This investment is a good first step to ensure that this work is recognized and can operate safely as many of our communities move into the second wave of this pandemic. I will continue to monitor the situation and advocate for more investments where they are needed to ensure the continued safety of our children and families.”

This investment comes in addition to the September 2020 Throne Speech, in which the federal government committed to creating a Canada-wide early learning and child care system.

“I will continue to speak up for the needs of First Nations children, families and early learning and child care providers, particularly as Canada moves to create a national early learning and child care system,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “We must ensure that First Nations are properly supported in a new national system for early learning and child care, and further that the distinct needs and priorities of First Nations are respected in this, which is especially important in the context of COVID-19.”

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

For more information please contact:

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

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

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Celso CercadoAFN National Chief Bellegarde welcomes emergency COVID funding for First Nations Early Learning and Child Care

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

Technical Reports – Housing Unit – October 2020

on October 22, 2020

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

1.What has the Housing Unit worked on over the last quarter?
Over the last quarter, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Housing Unit continued to work towards two activities to enhance federal transparency. The first is further development of performance measures to standardize assessments of Federal Government transparency with First Nations. A second draft of performance measures will be presented for comment to Regional First Nations Housing Technicians (RFNHTs) in September 2020 (date TBD) as a follow-up to the first draft the RFNHTs reviewed in a meeting in April 2020.
Secondly, securing a commitment to have an AFN representative receive clearance to participate in drafting the Memorandum to Cabinet (MC) is expected in late 2020 or early 2021; this representative will propose transformative change in the federal policy on First Nations housing. Unfortunately, there has been no progress on both matters since April 2020, due to work resources diverted to COVID-19 related activities. The AFN Housing Unit continues to push for government transparency.
Under the leadership of the National Chief Perry Bellegarde and AFN portfolio holder, Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin Hart, the 10-Year National First Nations’ Housing and Related Infrastructure Strategy (the Strategy) was adopted by Chiefs-in-Assembly in 2018. Since then, a draft implementation plan has been under development and will provide a path towards the realization of First Nation’s care and control of housing and related infrastructure. Cost estimates will be supported by data related to First Nations housing and related infrastructure needs. This important stage of the Strategy provides the evidence to obtain the resources and sustainable investments required from the Federal Government. Once completed, it is anticipated that the Implementation Plan, supported by the housing and related infrastructure needs data and associated costing will inform and be attached to the Memorandum to Cabinet in late 2020 or early 2021, with meaningful co-drafting by First Nations representatives.
With the Strategy in place and the Implementation Plan near completion, many regional First Nations organizations across Canada are already moving towards the goal of self-determination; this is being accomplished by working towards the transfer of housing and related infrastructure from the federal government to First Nations. A number of First Nations are in early discussions with Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) on framing these new systems.
Moving forward, the Sector is working towards the creation of a First Nations housing policy and research centre, identified as a priority goal in the Strategy, and actionable early in the Implementation Plan. A housing policy and research centre would function as a research centre and archive for housing information, tools, and best practices as well as innovative approaches to housing in First Nations. A feasibility analysis that will seek views from the AFN’s regions is expected to be completed late in fall 2020.
The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.
Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.

2.Are there recent current events or government action affecting the Housing Unit or its priorities?
Recent events surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic have emphasized the housing and infrastructure crisis that exists in First Nations. Calls urging the Federal Government to promptly invest significantly in First Nations housing and infrastructure, and advance First Nation’s priorities in self-determination, must be ramped up. Immediate federal investments supporting elements of the Strategy are undeniably necessary now.
The Strategy provides the ways and means for First Nations self-determination in housing and related infrastructure and to ensure the health, safety and well-being of their members and citizens. First Nations need to be part of the process in planning for their infrastructure, to “Build Back Better,” and make our communities more resilient and sustainable for seven generations and beyond.
What is your Sector planning for the future?
The AFN Housing Unit is currently planning to facilitate the convening of a high-level Canada-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs (CIRNA) officials meeting with senior Dene Nation representatives to advance the Dene Nation’s goal to control their housing. The unique way in which federal social housing supports are delivered in Denendeh, the Northwest Territories, creates a challenge to transfer control of housing, which is, possibly, greater than that experienced by most First Nations south of the sixtieth parallel. ISC has indicated that the transfer of control initiative is open to the Dene Nation. An additional challenge is determining to what extent the Dene Nation communities and members have been receiving an unequal share of federal housing resources relative to their southern counterparts. Equity of treatment is one of many Dene Nation housing issues. The AFN’s support activities are subject to the prior approval by the Dene Nation.
The AFN will continue to build on the momentum of advocating for immediate investments considering the COVID-19 pandemic. The Housing, Infrastructure, Water and Emergency Services Sector (HIWES) will support the Chiefs Committee on Housing and Infrastructure in their advocacy role to obtain the investments required to meet the needs and aspirations of First Nations in their housing and related infrastructure. Another key feature of the Strategy is to enable First Nations to provide housing services to their members who live away from their communities. The AFN will conduct additional outreach and gather input from Indigenous housing providers in urban and rural locations to further develop positive and strong working relationships.
Upcoming Events
Fall 2020 – Developing estimates of the full cost of implementing the Strategy
Fall 2020 – Think-tank Session First Nations Housing Managers & Urban Indigenous Housing Providers
Fall 2020 – Co-drafting of the Memorandum to Cabinet

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Celso CercadoTechnical Reports – Housing Unit – October 2020

AFN National Chief Bellegarde Encouraged by Meeting, But Needs To See Action On Addressing Racism Within The Healthcare System

on October 16, 2020

October 16, 2020

(Ottawa, ON) – Having attended today’s emergency meeting on racism in Canada’s healthcare system, National Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) said that the tragic death of Joyce Echaquan must lead to positive systemic change.

“We are horrified by the passing of Joyce Echaquan. The circumstances surrounding her death clearly demonstrate racism in health care settings,” National Chief Perry Bellegarde said.  “Systemic racism must be addressed, condemned, and eradicated. There should be zero tolerance within any public institution, especially one as vital as health care.

“Together, we can determine solutions that will ease the painful outcomes that Indigenous Peoples encounter from appalling health care experiences. The tragedy of Mrs. Echaquan’s death must motivate governments to change the course of systemic racism in health care. My thoughts are with her children, her partner, and the entire Atikamekw community.”

National Chief Perry Bellegarde calls on all governments to implement the following recommendations:

  1. Work directly with First Nations to ensure that Indigenous Peoples feel safe accessing health care services.
  2. Quebec needs to work with First Nations to fully implement the Viens Commission Report’s recommendations.
  3. Canada must conduct an immediate review of the Canada Health Transfers and the Canada Health Act, to ensure quality health care is being provided to Indigenous Peoples.
  4. The federal, provincial, and territorial governments must listen to Indigenous Peoples on the need for a healthcare Ombudsperson.
  5. The Provinces and Territories must work with educational institutions to ensure a more expansive curriculum for all health care providers.

National Chief Bellegarde thanks Minister Marc Miller for coordinating this important meeting.

 

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

 

―30―

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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Roy WhiteduckAFN National Chief Bellegarde Encouraged by Meeting, But Needs To See Action On Addressing Racism Within The Healthcare System

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde on the lobster conflict

on October 14, 2020

(Ottawa, ON) – “This conflict has been steadily escalating for more than a month. It is time for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the federal government, and the provincial government to intervene before someone gets badly injured or, possibly, killed.  This has never been a commercial disagreement, and the actions of non-Indigenous fishers are meant to harass and intimidate the First Nations with whom they share the waters and the resources within them.

“The Supreme Court of Canada made it amply clear in its Marshall decision that Indigenous peoples have a right to fish those waters, and First Nations should not be bullied off the water in this thuggish manner.  We expect the federal government to ensure the safety of everyone in Canada and to bring to justice to anyone who threatens violence or deprives others of their rights to food and a modest income.”

“Continued inaction by the police, and the unwillingness of the federal government to intervene directly in this dispute, only serves to increase the risk of racial violence and damage to these communities, which could last for generations.  Justice must be served, and this intimidation must end.”

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 on the lobster conflict

AFN Women’s Council Call For Immediate Action To End Violence Against Indigenous Women And Girls

on October 2, 2020

(Ottawa, ON) – On Sunday, vigils in honour of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) will take place across the country. These annual vigils raise public awareness and consciousness on the ongoing issue of MMIWG and helps healing for families who have lost their loved ones to violence.

This year has been difficult for many, and not just because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “This year, Eishia Hudson and Chantel Moore were both shot and killed by police. Barbara Kentner’s killer had his charges reduced from second degree murder to manslaughter,” says Chief Constance Big Eagle, Chair of the AFN’s Women’s Council. “How many more women need to die until Canada recognizes that something needs to be done and this can’t be put on the backburner any longer?”

The vigils are being organized at a time when First Nations mourn the recent and tragic death of Joyce Echaquan, a 37-year-old Atikamekw mother of seven, who died at the hands of deplorable behaviour and blatant systemic racism in the Quebec heath care system.

“This past week, the death of Joyce Echaquan received national attention after being verbally assaulted by nurses because she was First Nations. The abhorrent words and contempt shown to a dying mom was tragic and hurtful for everyone who watched the video online,” says Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald, who holds the Women’s Council portfolio. “I strongly support the Calls for Justice and call on both levels of government to develop a strong joint action plan with First Nations and BIPOC to end to systemic racism in Canada.”

Call for Justice 3.1 from the National Inquiry into MMIWG calls for all governments to “ensure that the rights to health and wellness of Indigenous Peoples, and specifically of Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people, are recognized and protected on an equitable basis.”

The Government of Canada has committed to the development of a National Action Plan to end violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA. The recent and tragic incidences of violence and systematic racism targeting First Nations women are just one of the many examples of why the National Inquiry’s Calls for Justice need to be implemented immediately.

“On behalf of the AFN Women’s Council, our love and condolences go out to the families who have lost their loved ones this past year, and years prior. The violence, the racism and the killing of our women needs to stop,” says Chief Big Eagle.

Find the MMIWG Inquiry’s Calls for Justice here: https://www.mmiwg-ffada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Calls_for_Justice.pdf

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

For more information please contact:

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

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

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Celso CercadoAFN Women’s Council Call For Immediate Action To End Violence Against Indigenous Women And Girls

AFN Calls for Renewal of Residential School Survivors’ Mental Health Support Program, Set to Expire End of March 2021

on September 30, 2020

(Ottawa, ON) – Today, the Assembly of First Nations released the Indian Residential School (IRS) Resolution Health Support Program Continuation Report. The report calls for the renewal of the IRS Resolution Health Support Program, due to expire on March 31, 2021, that helps thousands of Survivors and their families on their healing journeys.

“I stand with Survivors, their families, support workers and community organizations to advocate for the continuation of the Indian Residential School Resolution Health Support Program, a program that helps so many with healing,” says National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “After everything Survivors have endured, it’s important that Canada recognizes that this program is essential for their mental wellbeing.”

The report was released today to coincide with Orange Shirt Day, a day when Canadians reflect on the experiences of Residential School Survivors. The report, made with the voices of Survivors who have benefited from the program, presents evidence showing the significance of the program, and the need for it to stay.

In the first seven years of the program’s existence, almost 900,000 Survivors and families reached out for cultural and emotional support. Additionally, more than 65,000 Survivors and families participated in almost 500,000 counselling sessions across Canada.

Read the entire IRS Resolution Health Support Program Continuation Report here: http://www.afn.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Indian-Residential-Schools-Resolution-Health-Support-Program-Continuation-Report-FINAL.pdf

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

For more information please contact:

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

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

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Celso CercadoAFN Calls for Renewal of Residential School Survivors’ Mental Health Support Program, Set to Expire End of March 2021

On Orange Shirt Day, AFN National Chief Bellegarde says the healing journey of Residential School Survivors must be supported

on September 30, 2020

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde said that as Canada acknowledges Orange Shirt Day and Residential School Survivors, it must be acknowledged that the healing journeys of former students do not have a deadline and must continue to be respected and supported.

“Canada’s Residential Schools were an attempt at genocide, they had a severe negative impact on our cultures, our nations, our languages, and for reconciliation to occur, Canada must right this wrong and help the former students and our nations recover and heal from this tragic history,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “After everything Survivors have endured, it’s important that Canada recognizes that the IRS Resolution Health Support Program is essential. I stand with Survivors, their families, support workers and community organizations to advocate for the continuation of this program that helps so many with healing.”

On Orange Shirt Day, many Canadians and First Nations people wear orange as a reminder of the many First Nations children who were taken from their families and put in residential schools. Within the schools many suffered abuse and experienced the loss of their culture, language, and pride in who they are.

The day was begun by Phyllis Webstad, a young First Nations girl, who had her favourite orange shirt taken from her upon arriving at a residential school. Now she is a Survivor. The AFN honours the work Phyllis has done to have her story, and the stories of all the students of Residential Schools, heard through the creation of Orange Shirt Day

Dene National Chief and AFN Regional Chief for the Northwest Territories, Norman Yakeleya, holds the residential school file within the AFN, and said that we cannot change the past, but we can all be a part of changing the future.

“We wear orange in honour of all Indigenous people who, like Phyllis Webstad, faced senseless tragedies at residential school. Today, this colour helps us proclaim that every child matters and is deserving of safety, protection and love,” Regional Chief Yakeleya said. “I am pleased Canada is recognizing that reconciliation is a lifelong journey by introducing legislation to establish a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. I will continue advocating with survivors for further actions to meaningfully commemorate this painful chapter of our shared history, including the construction of a national monument honouring residential school victims and survivors.”

 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 CercadoOn Orange Shirt Day, AFN National Chief Bellegarde says the healing journey of Residential School Survivors must be supported

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

on September 23, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information please contact:

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

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

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