Assembly of First Nations Continues Call to Protect Our Sacred Waters

OTTAWA, Nov. 15, 2013 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo today reminds us all the responsibility given by the Creator to protect our water sources and ensure that our water rights are protected, consistent with principles of the United Nations Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples. First Nations have the right to free, prior and informed consent to developments on our lands, waters and coastal seas.

"First Nations access to the water through and beyond First Nation's boundaries is unjustly restricted and controlled due to licenses held by other parties. This is becoming more of a concern as rivers become depleted due to climate change and increased industrial uses," said National Chief Atleo. "First Nations never relinquished our inherent rights and responsibilities to water and remain united coast to coast to coast in upholding our rights and our duties towards water. First Nations have been calling attention to this matter for years and we need to better protect access to fresh water to ensure the health and safety of our people."

AFN NB/PEI Regional Chief Roger Augustine said: "First Nations are stewards of the land and recognize water as a sacred gift that connects all life. The waters in Canada are increasingly being disrespected, misused and polluted by industrial and resource development, agriculture, urbanization and climate change. All First Nations place a high importance on water, and practice sacred ceremonies to ensure waters are respected and that these water ceremonies are passed on to future generations. First Nations must be adequately and fairly consulted and accommodated prior to any decisions or actions related to our waters in Canada's provinces or territories."

AFN continues to work on the recognition and respect for First Nations rights, jurisdiction, management and access to water. A draft First Nations National Water Declaration was presented at the 2013 AFN Annual General Assembly and will be presented at the 2013 AFN Special Chiefs Assembly in December for full endorsement.

You can view a copy of the draft First Nations National Water Declaration at: http://64.26.139.40/uploads/files/water/afn-water-declaration.pdf

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

SOURCE: Assembly of First Nations

For further information:

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

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


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