Assembly of First Nations National Chief Calls for Unity, Citizen-engagement and Treaty Meeting Between First Nations and Crown

OTTAWA, Jan. 3, 2013 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo today continued calls for solidarity, engagement and action by First Nations and the Crown.  First Nation leaders will meet on the anniversary of the Crown-First Nations Gathering January 24, 2013 and an urgent invitation to the Prime Minister and the Governor General to commit to attend this meeting was sent on January 1, 2013.

"First Nations across this country have been voicing concern and frustration with a broken system that does not address long-standing disparities between First Nations and the rest of Canada, and address priorities in ways that will provide for long-term solutions and sustainability," said National Chief Atleo, further acknowledging the actions of First Nation citizens, leaders and supporters, including Elder Raymond Robinson from Cross Lake Manitoba and Chief Theresa Spence of Attawapiskat who have been without food since December 11, 2012, calling attention to the urgent need for the Crown to respect and honour its duty to work with First Nations to implement Treaties.

"There is no excuse for inaction either by First Nation leadership or by Canada," said National Chief Atleo.  "First Nations are ready to do the hard work to address our many challenges and achieve a better future for our children.  We must see concrete commitment and action.  It's time for the Crown to honour its relationship and responsibilities to First Nations starting with the recognition and affirmation of our inherent and Treaty rights. It's time for all First Nations citizens and their leaders to drive solutions."

January 24 will mark one year since the Crown-First Nations gathering where First Nation leaders, the Governor General and Prime Minister Harper committed to work on a number of key areas, including Treaty implementation and comprehensive claims, strengthened First Nation governance and fiscal relations, economic development and education.

In a December 29 letter to First Nation leadership, National Chief Atleo highlighted the importance of nation-based solutions, and the need for all First Nations to engage at the community level. "I and the AFN Executive support and encourage community-level and treaty-level meetings to advance priorities first and foremost in the homes and territories of our Nations," wrote National Chief Atleo also acknowledging the support from Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples across the country and beyond.  "It is our way and our responsibility to understand and achieve our priorities together, led by our peoples.  Our role at the regional and national level is to offer full support for First Nation driven initiatives and solutions to recognize, respect and implement our rights and responsibilities."

"Through the 'Idle No More' movement, we have seen a tremendous outpouring of energy, pride and determination by our peoples in recent weeks," said National Chief Atleo.  "This level of citizen and community engagement is absolutely essential to achieve the change we all want to see in every First Nation - the hard work of re-building our Nations, our governments and protecting our lands, waters and territories. "

"First Nations are engaging in a peaceful assertion of our rights and our responsibilities." said National Chief Atleo.  "We can and must do this work together.  We express our thanks to all and in particular the women and youth leadership who have spoken up forcefully and effectively. We support and care for all of our peoples to be safe and secure especially our children. We are stronger together. And we extend this invitation and encouragement to all Canadians to join us in understanding and support to achieve fairness and justice."

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

SOURCE: ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS

For further information:

Jenna Young AFN Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 401; 613-314-8157 or jyoung@afn.ca

Alain Garon AFN Bilingual Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 382; 613-292-0857 or agaron@afn.ca