Assembly of First Nations Supports Declaration, Women's Council Honours Leadership of Chief Theresa Spence

OTTAWA, Jan. 23, 2013 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Executive Committee, together with the AFN National Women's Council today expressed their continued support of Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence and supporters. AFN expressed formal support for a Declaration brought forward by Chief Spence, committing to advancing work to achieve change based on First Nations priorities.  Chief Theresa Spence announced today she will end her now 44-day hunger-strike, releasing a Declaration of Commitment to achieving fundamental change for First Nations.

"We have expressed to Chief Spence our deep appreciation for her strength and resolve, and hailed the impact that has had in raising awareness of the need for fundamental and transformative change in the relationship between First Nations and the Crown," said AFN Regional Chief Roger Augustine, speaking on behalf of the AFN National Executive.

National Chief Shawn Atleo expressed his personal appreciation for Chief Spence's contribution, adding:  "Our shared goal is simple and clear: to guarantee that our children can achieve the brighter future that they deserve. This is what every Chief across this country, every member of the Assembly of First Nations, will continue to fight to achieve," said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo.  "Our mandate is to advance the priorities of First Nations in those areas, and to achieve that justice for our children. We have made real progress in recent weeks. Our journey - the Chiefs, the AFN and mine - will not be over until we have won those guarantees."

The Declaration of Commitment: First Nations Working Towards Fundamental Change, that will be shared with all First Nations and First Nation organizations as well as Parliamentarians commits all to "undertake political, spiritual and all other advocacy efforts to implement a renewed First Nations - Crown relationship where inherent Treaty and non-Treaty Rights are recognized, honoured and fully implemented as they should be, within the next five years."  It includes, but is not limited to, ensuring commitments made by the Prime Minister on January 11, 2013 are followed through and implemented as quickly as possible as led by First Nations with open transparency and trust.

"On behalf of the National Women's Council, we honour the courage, spirit and leadership of our sister Chief Theresa Spence, and we stand behind her and other leaders in full support of achieving a better day for all our peoples - schools for our children, housing for our families, and thriving communities for us all to grow, live and prosper," said National Women's Council Co-chair Therese Villenueve.  "We share our prayers for Chief Spence's good health and continue to push forward with her among other challenges and priorities, the specific issues impacting women and families."

For a link to the Declaration of Commitment: First Nations Working Towards Fundamental Change visit http://www.afn.ca/index.php/en/news-media/latest-news/declaration-of-commitment-january-23-2013

For a list of eight commitments made during the January 11, 2013 meeting between First Nation leaders and the Prime Minister visit http://www.afn.ca/uploads/files/13-01-16_afn_bulletin_fe.pdf

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