National Chief Addresses Canadian Club of Toronto: "First Nations Count" in Federal Election

OTTAWA, April 11 /CNW/ - During a major speech to the Canadian Club of Toronto today, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo delivered a strong message on the need for First Nation priorities to be addressed during the current federal election.

"The 2011 federal election is an opportunity to change the way First Nation issues are addressed in this country," said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo. "This election comes at an important time when our population is young and booming, when Canada is looking at major developments to ensure we remain productive and competitive. We are at a crossroads and this election is an important opportunity to transform the relationship between First Nations and Canada, something that is required to realize the true potential of First Nations in this country."

National Chief Atleo and the AFN recently launched an initiative to ensure First Nation priorities are part of the election discussion, to seek commitments from all parties based on priorities set by First Nations and, at the same time, engage First Nation citizens in the national discussion on the issues that matter to them.

The initiative is called "First Nations Count - Our Communities, Our Nations, Our Voice".  It is based on four key areas to address the gap between First Nation citizens and other Canadians.  Under the broad theme of "working together now to build success for the future", these priorities are education, affirming our relationships, driving partnership and the economy, and community health and safety.

National Chief Atleo set out a very clear plan of what is required.  "We've seen the Liberal and Conservative parties quickly commit to sustainable rates of growth for health and education - rates of 6.6 per cent per year," said National Chief Atleo in Monday's speech.  "For these same services, First Nations, despite being the fastest growing population, are capped at 2 per cent. We seek the same and equivalent commitment to sustainable growth. We seek a relationship founded on respect and fairness to unlock the tremendous potential benefit to First Nations and all Canadians."

On April 1, the AFN submitted a questionnaire to all party leaders, seeking commitments based on the "First Nations Count" priorities.  AFN is hosting an online virtual summit April 14 to further engage First Nation citizens and interested Canadians to discuss the issues that matter to them.  AFN has also invited party candidates to a special town hall event focused on First Nation issues April 27.

For more information on "First Nations Count", AFN election priorities and upcoming events please visit www.afn.ca.

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

SOURCE ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS

For further information:

Don Kelly, AFN A/Communications Director 613-241-6789 ext. 334 or cell: 613-292-2787 or email dkelly@afn.ca

Jenna Young, Assembly of First Nations Communications Officer
613-241-6789, ext 401 or cell: 613-314-8157 or email jyoung@afn.ca

Alain Garon, Assembly of First Nations Bilingual Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 382 or cell: 613-2920857 or email agaron@afn.ca

Media inquires for Canadian Club of Toronto:

Lynn Chou, CCT Program Manager at 416-364-5590 or lchou@canadianclub.org

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ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS

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FEDERAL ELECTION 2011

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