OTTAWA, Dec. 5, 2013 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National
Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo today commented on the report "Forging
Partnerships, Building Relationships" prepared by Douglas R. Eyford and
presented to the Prime Minister. The report focuses on First Nations
and Energy Development.
"Mr. Eyford's report reflects some key concerns and perspectives of
First Nations as they relate to energy development and resource
development and addresses these with some important recommendations,"
said AFN National Chief Atleo. "As we have said, in order to ensure
prosperity for Canada and First Nations, Canada must recognize First
Nation rights, support First Nations through capacity support, access
to capital, and engage in environmental planning that incorporates
First Nations traditional knowledge and principles and must facilitate
shared decision making that is respectful, inclusive and accountable."
National Chief Atleo added: "The reality is that the federal government
and all parties must understand that First Nations are not simply
another interest group in this work. We have constitutionally
protected rights and title and there is a legal obligation on the part
of government to meaningfully consult and accommodate First Nations.
For too long these realities have been ignored and they are holding all
of us back. Now is the time for action. First Nations are not
anti-development but if any project is going to proceed it must be
responsible, sustainable, we must be involved, our rights must be
respected and there must be meaningful engagement consistent with the
principles of free, prior and informed consent as set out in the United
Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples."
The report makes recommendations across four broad themes: Building
Trust, Fostering Inclusion, Advancing Reconciliation and Taking
Action. Amongst other recommendations, the report calls for a
"Crown-First Nations tri-partite energy working group" comprised of the
federal and provincial governments and First Nations. The report
places development work in the broader context of reconciliation,
noting this activity must not be seen as separate from action on First
Nations education, employment, land issues and rights.
AFN BC Regional Chief Jody Wilson-Raybould stated, "We are pleased Mr.
Eyford's report was made public as it provides a welcome insight into
the hard work ahead of us to ensure true reconciliation can occur
between our Nations and the Crown. Canada must ensure that our Nations
are full partners in the decisions that affect our lands and resources
including, and where our Nations support development, benefiting in a
meaningful and substantive way from energy development. However,
resource development for First Nations is a means to an end and not the
end in itself. Accordingly, seeking First Nations support for resource
development cannot be divorced from the broader issues of
reconciliation to address long standing grievances and where the
objective of our Nations is to ensure our peoples have an improved
quality of life with practicing and thriving cultures. With so much at
stake for not only our peoples but all Canadians, I truly hope that Mr.
Eyford's recommendations will be given the serious consideration they
deserve and that the Prime Minister will continue to ensure a high
level of oversight in the development of a new reconciliation framework
for Canada that goes beyond the limitations and restrictions of the
existing federal 'comprehensive claims policy.'"
AFN Alberta Regional Chief Cameron Alexis said: "I welcome this report
as action is needed for both the Alberta and BC regions on these
issues. I was disappointed when Premier Redford and Premier Clark
signed a pipeline agreement and did not consult with First Nations from
both our respective regions. I believe that now is the time that all
interested parties work together to finally achieve an agreement that
can be consistent with the expectations of Treaties 6, 7 and 8." On
March 19, 2013, the Government of Canada appointed the Special Federal
Representative, Douglas Eyford, to engage with First Nations
communities and governments in British Columbia and Alberta on future
energy infrastructure development.
The National Chief stated: "The AFN has been pressing for action on
these matters for some time and it is important that this report help
compel immediate action on these fundamental issues."
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing
First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms,
SOURCE: Assembly of First Nations
For further information:
Alain Garon AFN Bilingual Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 382; 613-292-0857 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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