Assembly of First Nations National Chief and Yukon First Nation Leaders confirm mutual support for continued efforts advancing First Nation interests and Self Government agreements

OTTAWA, Nov. 9, 2011 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo today expressed his support for efforts by Yukon First Nation leaders to achieve full implementation of the negotiated self-government agreements, particularly for the Crown to fulfill its responsibilities under such agreements.

"Yukon First Nation leaders are driving change for the betterment of their citizens and communities by building capacity and advancing their rights and responsibilities," said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo who met with leaders from Yukon region in Whitehorse today.  "First Nations across Canada are taking forward plans for self-determination.  By building capacity at the community level based on our interests and values, First Nations will be better equipped to lead change in ways that are best suited for our success and prosperity."

"It is clear that Canada's comprehensive land claims policy and inherent rights policies have not kept up with evolving jurisprudence and instruments such as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples - let alone with the vision and ambitions of Yukon First Nation governments," said AFN Yukon Regional Chief Eric Morris.  "Self-government agreements were negotiated in good faith and it's time for the Crown to return to the original spirit and intent agreed to as part of the implementation of these modern agreements. By strengthening First Nations capacity to govern our own lives, we can move away from the Indian Act which is not working for our peoples or Canada."

"Ultimately, this is about the real recognition of Indigenous Peoples, our governments and jurisdiction, our rights and our relationships with the land. This is about the pursuit of self-determination and a clear respectful partnership with the Crown," said Council of Yukon First Nations Grand Chief Ruth Massie.  "However, implementation remains a consistent issue as the Crown has failed its obligations in many aspects such as attempts to impose unilateral fiscal arrangements during negotiations that are not consistent with the spirit of Yukon self-government agreements."

The leaders met to discuss strategies and options to address ongoing challenges.  Independent dispute resolution was discussed as a possible way forward to ensure effective implementation. Based on the discussion, National Chief Atleo committed to advancing options for consideration with the federal government.

National Chief Atleo also had an opportunity to meet with Yukon First Nation students and learners during his time in the north.  He visited the Elijah Smith Elementary School and was welcomed by the students with a traditional song.  He attended a community celebration focused on a Student Mentorship Program created and operated by CYFN in partnership with Yukon First Nation youth leaders and high school students.

"There is so much that Canada can learn from Yukon First Nations," said National Chief Atleo.  "With their positive attitude, a confident approach, and abundant support for one another - First Nations can transform the relationship with Canada and all Canadians, and lift up our future generations for a better future for us all.  As I've seen during my many visits to this territory, clearly the future is bright for Yukon First Nations families and children."

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

SOURCE ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS

For further information:

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

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

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