Assembly of First Nations National Chief Welcomes TRC Interim Report, Calls for Commitment and Concrete Steps Forward

OTTAWA, Feb. 24, 2012 /CNW/ - Following a three day national forum on First Nations driving change toward safe and thriving communities, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo welcomed the interim report today released by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC), further calling for a commitment by governments and all Canadians to engage in concrete reconciliation efforts.

"In this interim report, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission draws important conclusions and points to clear steps toward reconciliation," said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo.  "Real reconciliation, though, is achieved through action and change.  We must all work together to ensure these important recommendations are implemented in ways that address the needs of all residential schools survivors and families, and to ensure that from now on education will only be used to support and improve the continued and sustained success of First Nations as an investment in Canada's collective future."

In its 30 page report, citing 20 recommendations, the TRC concludes the Indian residential school system constituted an assault on First Nation children, families, culture and communities.  The report also highlights the importance of recognizing the unique legal status of First Nations as the original peoples of Canada, encouraging all levels of government to work with First Nations based on this understanding.  Specific recommendations include support for health and healing of all survivors, the need for culture and language programming, parenting supports, access to documents, and records as well as restoring funding to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation.

"While we support all survivors and their families on their individual healing journeys, we must at the same time turn the page on this dark chapter of our shared history and work toward a future that unleashes the full potential of our peoples in this country," said National Chief Atleo.  "By acting now in mutual respect, support and partnership we can and will achieve a better day for First Nations in this country - where First Nation education is reflective of our strong languages, cultures and traditions and supports our success at every level."

The AFN National Justice Forum gathered more than 600 delegates in Vancouver this week, with focused discussion and strategic dialogue in the development of a national justice strategy and action plan for ending violence against Indigenous women and girls.  Many delegates referenced the importance of healing and reconciliation, as well as support for cultures and languages stripped from First Nations during the operation of residential schools.

TRC Chair Justice Murray Sinclair and Commissioners Chief Wilton Littlechild and Marie Wilson released the interim report at a news conference in Vancouver this morning.

As outlined in the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement, the TRC has a mandate to learn the truth about what happened in the residential schools and to inform all Canadians about what happened in the schools. The TRC will document the truth of what happened by relying on records held by those who operated and funded the schools, testimony from officials of the institutions that operated the schools, and experiences reported by survivors, their families, communities and anyone personally affected by the residential school experience and its subsequent impacts.

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

SOURCE ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS

For further information:

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

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

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ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS

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