Assembly of First Nations National Chief Calls for Action on Crown-First Nations Gathering Commitment on Comprehensive Claims

OTTAWA, Sept. 6, 2012 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo today expressed concern about the federal government's announcement of a new approach to treaty and self-government negotiations.

At the Crown-First Nations Gathering held earlier this year, the Crown committed to jointly reform the policy to bring it into line with the principles of recognition and affirmation. The Crown must live up to these commitments. First Nations are united in our resolve to press Canada to engage immediately in a process of reform, but this must be a process that is both meaningful and comprehensive.

"The current comprehensive claims policy does not work.  It is outdated, ineffective, unjust and a further constraint to economic opportunity and potential. First Nations across the country have been waiting for too many years to get action on their claims," said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo. "The current policy is based on denial and extinguishment rather than recognition and affirmation; and it has resulted in costly negotiations and very few agreements. The policy is at odds with section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and has not kept pace with Supreme Court decisions and the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples."  

Achieving results in negotiations involves the engagement of both parties on a foundation that is respectful of one another's rights and responsibilities. A policy that seeks to limit negotiations to those regions and contexts where only Canada's needs are met is not sufficient for First Nations.  

"We have a shared interest in expeditious process and outcomes resolution but this must be achieved justly and with a view to defining a policy that responds to the needs and aspirations of all First Nations, not only those that happen to be in resource-rich areas or where desperation compels them to accept a process that falls short of their aspirations," said National Chief Atleo.   

AFN National Chief added: "Results-based negotiations must take account of the unique needs that each First Nation engaged in negotiations brings to the table - one size does not fit all. With sufficient political will, Canada can overcome this longstanding barrier to progress and economic development for First Nations, and truly move into a new era of meaningful engagement and reconciliation for all Canadians."  

The Chiefs-in-Assembly have passed a variety of resolutions calling on Canada to reform its comprehensive claims policy. This reform must address the root-causes of problems with policy, such as recognition, overlaps, fiscal relations and dispute resolution.

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow @AFN_Updates, @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 or cell: 613-292-0857 or e-mail agaron@afn.ca

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