News

AFN National Chief Bellegarde Urges Committee Support for Federal Legislation focused on First Nations Jurisdiction for Care of Children

on May 9, 2019

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs today, speaking directly to e urgency of passing federal legislation on First Nations child welfare in this session of Parliament.

“Bill C-92 is focused on the safety, security and future of First Nations children in Canada, and it’s crucial this legislation pass before the end of June,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde to members of the Standing Committee today. “The impact of the status quo child welfare system is felt every day in our families and communities. There is no greater gift from the Creator than our children. They deserve to grow up valued and connected to their families, cultures and nations.”

National Chief Bellegarde proposed specific areas to strengthen the bill together with Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, Director of Indian Residential School Centre for History and Dialogue, Professor, Allard Law School, University of British Columbia.  Areas identified for strengthening include references to adequate funding, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, best interests of the child and Jordan’s Principle.

“No single legislative instrument will be enough on its own, but with First Nations jurisdiction paramount, we have a solid base for the change we need to see for our children and families,” said National Chief Bellegarde.  “Federal legislation sets a national framework and is a good first step to complement existing self-government agreements and while work at the regional and local levels continues. Bill C-92 recognizes and affirms the right to raise and take care of our children according to our own practices and values and to carry our languages and cultures forward from this generation to the next.”

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

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

 

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

 

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For media requests or more information, please contact:

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

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

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Roy WhiteduckAFN National Chief Bellegarde Urges Committee Support for Federal Legislation focused on First Nations Jurisdiction for Care of Children

Assembly of First Nations Welcomes Court Ruling to Uphold Federal Carbon Pricing Plan

on May 3, 2019

(Ottawa, ON) – Following a decision by the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal to uphold the federal Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde says carbon pricing is an important step to address what he calls “climate destruction” and the impacts of climate change.

“This is a positive step in supporting action on climate change and protecting our lands and waters for future generations,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “First Nations are the original stewards of the land. We are the first to experience the impacts of climate change and we are leaders in fighting this greatest challenge of our time. It is crucial that governments work with First Nations to ensure our rights and our Elders’ traditional knowledge inform all actions in addressing climate change. We must ensure those plans don’t disproportionately impact the unique situation of First Nations, including communities dependent on diesel energy or lacking public transit. We look forward to working with all governments to support full engagement with First Nations to take action on climate change.”

The AFN intervened in the Saskatchewan case in mid-February where Saskatchewan challenged the constitutionality of the federal Greenhouse Gas Pollution Pricing Act which was implemented in Saskatchewan, Ontario, Manitoba and New Brunswick April 1. The AFN argued that a national response that respects First Nations rights, title, jurisdiction and responsibilities is critical given the vulnerability of First Nations to climate change.

AFN Resolution 103/2017: Carbon Pricing Regimes calls on the federal Environment Minister to respect First Nations rights, title, and jurisdiction and responsibilities to their traditional territories and provides AFN with the mandate to develop innovative solutions to the unique circumstances of First Nations, including the possibility of revenue recycling mechanisms that minimize the disproportionate effects of carbon pricing on First Nations.

“First Nations are keen to work together with the federal government on a broad dialogue with provincial, territorial, and First Nations governments on the implementation of this approach and to ensure it respects the unique considerations of First Nations taxation,” said AFN Yukon Regional Chief Adamek, co-chair of the AFN Advisory Committee on Climate Action and the Environment. “Canada has also indicated that part of the carbon tax revenue will support municipalities, schools, hospitals, non-profit organizations and Indigenous communities. Governments need to work with First Nations directly, including those with modern agreements, to ensure equity in the allocation of these funds.”

First Nations are committed to the co-development of policies and regulations under the Act, as articulated in AFN Resolution 09/2018: Develop First Nations-Specific Solutions for the Green House Gas Pollution Pricing Act. This is consistent with the establishment of the AFN-Canada Joint Committee on Climate Action formed following the December 2016 First Ministers Meetings on the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.

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

For more information, please contact:

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

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

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Sid LeeAssembly of First Nations Welcomes Court Ruling to Uphold Federal Carbon Pricing Plan

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

on May 2, 2019

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

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

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

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

For more information, please contact:

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

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

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

Assembly of First Nations Participates in the 18th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

on April 23, 2019

(New York City, NY) – The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) co-hosted an event today at United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York called Achieving the Promise of the International Year of Indigenous Languages – Outcomes, Legacies and Future Work. This event is part of the annual sessions of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations Grand Chief Wilton Littlechild spoke on behalf of AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde, stating: “Recognition and support of Indigenous languages is a vital aspect of implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

Grand Chief Littlechild was honoured today by having the Ambassador’s board room named after him at the Canadian Mission.

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde said, “We lift up and honour Grand Chief Wilton Littlechild for his leadership and his long-term advocacy for Indigenous rights nationally and on the international stage. The AFN’s presence at these international forums helps advance our priorities and build bridges among all our peoples.”

The event was co-organized by the Assembly of First Nations and the Permanent Missions of Ecuador and Canada, with additional sponsorship by the Missions of Norway and Australia. It featured a keynote address by Her Excellency María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the UN General Assembly, signaling high level support for the event and for action to strengthen Indigenous languages. Based on a recommendation by the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages (IYIL). The IYIL seeks to promote and protect Indigenous languages and improve the lives of those who speak them, and contribute to implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.

In December 2016, Prime Minister Trudeau responded to years of advocacy by the AFN, First Nations and the National Chief to create an Indigenous Languages Act which has now been tabled as Bill C-91. The AFN co-developed the legislation to ensure that First Nation perspectives, priorities and rights were included, and is pushing for the legislation to be passed before the end of the current session of Parliament.

The text of the National Chief’s remarks to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues will be available on the AFN website at www.afn.ca. The AFN will be participating in the Forum over the next two weeks.

 

 

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms, @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 WhiteduckAssembly of First Nations Participates in the 18th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

Assembly of First Nations Mourns Passing of First Nations Leader, Knowledge Keeper and Former National Chief Noel Starblanket

on April 15, 2019

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today mourned the passing of Noel Starblanket, a highly respected Knowledge Keeper, advocate, teacher and two-time National Chief, from Star Blanket Cree Nation in Saskatchewan.

“I offer my deepest condolences and prayers on behalf of myself and the AFN Executive to the family of Noel Starblanket, a strong and outspoken leader and Knowledge Keeper who dedicated his life to ensuring First Nations people and First Nations rights are honoured and respected,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “Noel was a major and influential figure in Saskatchewan and across the country. So many young people of my generation learned from him through his example of hard work and his accomplishments both as a leader and a Knowledge Keeper. He was already a Chief of Star Blanket Cree Nation in his early 20s and continued throughout his life to set a positive example of strong leadership in a way that builds bridges among people and communities. This is a profound loss for all of us, but his spirit, his teachings and his leadership will always guide us.”

The family announced that Noel Starblanket passed early this morning. Starblanket started his work as a leader at a young age. He became Chief of Star Blanket Cree Nation in 1971 at the age of 24, making him the youngest Chief in the country at the time. He served on the board of what was then called the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (now the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations) and served as leader for two terms of the National Indian Brotherhood, now known as the Assembly of First Nations, from 1976 – 1980. Later in life, Starblanket dedicated his time to providing spiritual guidance, teachings, advice and insight as the Elder-in-Residence at Scott Collegiate in Regina, with the Regina public school board and the University of Regina’s Office of Indigenization. He helped set the foundation for the eventual repatriation of the Constitution in 1982.

 

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 WhiteduckAssembly of First Nations Mourns Passing of First Nations Leader, Knowledge Keeper and Former National Chief Noel Starblanket

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Says Supreme Court Win in Residential Schools Compensation Case “A Victory for Justice and for Survivors of the Indian Residential Schools”

on April 12, 2019

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde called today’s ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada in J.W. v. Canada (Attorney General) an important victory that helps ensure fairness and justice for survivors of the Indian residential schools. The AFN was a party in the case, arguing on behalf of survivors and for the fair application of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA), negotiated by the AFN.

“This Supreme Court decision is a victory for survivors of the Indian residential schools and a victory for justice and healing,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “The AFN has always stood with survivors of the residential schools, right from the outset by leading negotiations on the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement through to today’s decision. We continue to push for justice, healing and reconciliation from the legacy of the schools, including our work on legislation that will strengthen our languages and legislation that gives First Nations responsibility over child welfare. We want to move out from under the long shadow of the residential schools through a shared commitment, but we will not hesitate to use the courts when we have to stand up for survivors and for justice.”

The AFN supported “J.W.”, a residential school survivor, and other claimants involved in the Independent Assessment Process (IAP) under the IRSSA, who have systematically been denied compensation under a category known as SL1 claims (which involve acts such as sexual touching). Some adjudicators were requiring IAP Claimants to prove the motive or sexual intent of a perpetrator in assessing these claims, which is a higher standard than that used under criminal law.

The Majority of the Supreme Court of Canada held that the initial adjudicator’s decision constituted an unauthorized modification of the IAP and this and other errors were compounded by the adjudicator’s misinterpretation of the criminal case law with respect to sexual assault. As a result, the adjudicator’s conduct amounted to a failure to apply or implement the terms of the Agreement, warranting judicial intervention to ensure that the benefits promised in the Agreement were delivered.

“This is an important decision by Canada’s highest court that will ensure the Settlement Agreement is respected and upheld,” said AFN NWT Regional Chief Norman Yakeleya, who oversees the AFN’s work on residential schools. “In addition to respecting the agreement and the law, this will help ensure survivors of the schools are not unfairly burdened in their journey to justice and healing.”

The Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement was initiated by the AFN and came into effect in 2007. It is the largest class action settlement in Canadian history.

 

 

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]

read more
Roy WhiteduckAFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Says Supreme Court Win in Residential Schools Compensation Case “A Victory for Justice and for Survivors of the Indian Residential Schools”

AFN National Mental Wellness Forum Focuses on Life Promotion and Cultural Pathways to Closing Health Gap

on April 5, 2019

(Ottawa, ON) – In advance of World Health Day, First Nations from across Canada gathered in Winnipeg, Manitoba this week for the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Mental Wellness Forum.  More than 500 First Nations citizens, health providers and experts gathered to identify gaps in prevention, support and care services, and to discuss and implement strategies to integrate cultural pathways for closing the health gap between First Nations and Canada.

“I am encouraged by the thoughtful discussions and deliberations that took place at the AFN National Mental Wellness Forum this week, and I lift up all delegates for their input and participation,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde.  “I believe our culture, languages and traditions have an important and integral role in achieving overall health and wellness, and can be integrated in ways that support healing and life promotion, and close the overall health gap between First Nations and Canadians.”

Last week the Canadian Medical Journal Association released a study linking poverty among Indigenous people in Canada to challenges in mental health and suicide. The study included survey responses filed with Statistics Canada in 2012.

“We cannot implement solutions without knowing where we’ve come from. We must factor in the traumas from the past and how they relate to the present and future,” said AFN Manitoba Regional Chief Kevin Hart. “I acknowledge and commend the strength and courage of the many delegates and guest speakers who shared lived experiences this week. This is how we learn and grow as leaders and as health professionals. We have a clearer path forward based on input and discussion this week. We’ve identified specific areas that require transformative change from government policy to individual behavior and approaches.  With the input and discussion this week, we have a better understanding of the overall state of First Nations wellness and can identify approaches to address specific challenges, including the growing opioid crisis, to improve overall mental wellness among our people.”

The three-day national forum included guest speakers and workshops in the areas of addiction, life promotion, culture, gender and sexuality. Discussion focused on access to health services, highlighting best practices and innovative approaches in these areas.

“Current programs and services for First Nations mental wellness must change to address the multiple barriers and challenges existing at all levels of government,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “The AFN will continue to work directly with First Nations to advocate for appropriate supports and investments in First Nations-led approaches, with the intent of creating initiatives, policies, funding mechanisms, programs and services that are culturally relevant and provide proven results for our people.”

World Health Day is recognized annually by the World Health Organization and globally April 7. 

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 or 613-314-8157 (cell) [email protected]

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

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Roy WhiteduckAFN National Mental Wellness Forum Focuses on Life Promotion and Cultural Pathways to Closing Health Gap

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Statement on Departure of Ms. Jody Wilson-Raybould and Dr. Jane Philpott from Liberal Caucus

on April 3, 2019

April 3, 2019

(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde released the below statement following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s announcement to remove Ms. Jody Wilson-Raybould and Dr. Jane Philpott from Liberal caucus.

“I have expressed my disappointment with the departure of both Jody Wilson-Raybould and Dr. Jane Philpott from cabinet. Both leaders were assets to the cabinet table and have shown strong genuine interest in working directly with First Nations advancing our priorities. I commend both women for their integrity, courage and all their efforts to advance First Nations priorities to date. I hope they continue to contribute in their roles as independent Members of Parliament.

The events of the past few weeks raise serious concerns about the motivations and actions of this government. In order to regain First Nations’ trust, we must all recommit ourselves to reconciliation and I urge both the Government of Canada and all parliamentarians to focus on passing key First Nation legislative priorities in this session of parliament. This includes supporting a better future for First Nations children and families based on respect for our rights, languages, and cultures. First Nations priorities are good for First Nations and Canada.

Reconciliation is not about one political party or individual. It’s about all of us. We must all act to advance reconciliation in every avenue available to us. I will continue to advocate for the respect and implementation of First Nations rights and title and to close the gap between First Nations and Canada. “

 

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 WhiteduckAFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Statement on Departure of Ms. Jody Wilson-Raybould and Dr. Jane Philpott from Liberal Caucus

Senators must be there for reconciliation – Indigenous peoples’ organizations, human rights groups and faith communities urge Senate not to squander opportunity to pass UN Declaration implementation Bill

on April 1, 2019

Tomorrow, April 2, is the next crucial opportunity to advance the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples implementation Bill, private member’s Bill C-262, toward its eventual adoption into law.

Indigenous peoples’ organizations, human rights groups and faith communities have all called on Senators to support an anticipated vote to send Bill C-262 to Committee in preparation for its final adoption so it can receive Royal Assent before the House rises.

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is the framework for reconciliation and the path to closing the gap in the quality of life between First Nations and Canada,” said Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “These are non-partisan priorities that deserve support by all parliamentarians and all Canadians. I urge all Senators to seize this opportunity to move Bill C-262 to its next step towards Royal Assent. This move will be a step toward a more fair and just country and an important step toward reconciliation.”

Bill C-262 is a private member’s bill put forward by NDP MP Romeo Saganash requiring the federal government to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, including necessary reforms of laws and policies.

“Bill C-262 provides a clear and principled framework for the federal government to live up to its promise to finally address some of the most serious human rights concerns facing Canada,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada. “Unfortunately, there is only a small window left for the Senate to bring legislation to a final vote before the current session of Parliament ends. It’s crucial that Senators not miss this opportunity.”

The House of Commons committee that reviewed Bill C-262 heard more than 70 witnesses chosen by all parties and only one of those witnesses expressed opposition to the Bill. Members of Parliament voted overwhelmingly in support of Bill C-262 when it was before the House of Commons last year.

“I can’t emphasize enough the importance of adopting Bill C-262,” said Rosemarie Kuptana, a leading Inuk human rights advocate and past President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and Inuit Circumpolar Council.  “There’s wide support among Canadians and Members of Parliament for Bill C-262 and we’re confident that there is a high level of support in the Senate too. The challenge now is ensuring Senators turn that support into action by showing up for the critical votes to come. Indigenous peoples are watching.”

Mariam Wallet Med Aboubakrine, the Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, said, “With Bill C-262, Canada has the opportunity to set an important and much needed example of how the UN Declaration can be implemented through a principled and collaborative process. Indigenous peoples around the world are anxious to see this bill become law.”

For more information, please see www.declarationcoalition.ca

CONTACT

Lucy Scholey
Media Relations
Amnesty International Canada
(613) 744-7667 ext 236
[email protected]

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Roy WhiteduckSenators must be there for reconciliation – Indigenous peoples’ organizations, human rights groups and faith communities urge Senate not to squander opportunity to pass UN Declaration implementation Bill

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
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