OTTAWA, Nov 27, 2015 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today addressed The Rotary Club of Toronto and spoke to opportunities for First Nations and the federal government to work together on shared priorities to close the gap in the quality of life between First Nations people and Canadians based on a new Nation-to-Nation relationship.
"Closing the gap means making a commitment to addressing long-standing inequities between First Nations people and Canadians and the human rights violations experienced by First Nations people," said National Chief Bellegarde. "The inequities are staggering and they're holding us all back. First Nations are ready to work with the government to create a better future for our children, safer communities for our people and a stronger country for all of us. Closing the gap will ensure we all succeed because when First Nations win, Canada wins."
The National Chief spoke about a new fiscal relationship as a necessary part of closing the gap, noting the upcoming federal Speech from the Throne and budget. The National Chief highlighted three steps that can be taken immediately to advance this work. First, significant one-time investments so First Nations can catch up and address fundamental priorities like the lack of clean drinking water, housing and schools. Second, removing the 2% funding cap on essential services – which the National Chief called "a cap on growth and opportunity" - that has been in place for almost two decades and does not keep pace with inflation or population growth. And third, new approaches to predictable and sustainable funding to replace unpredictable and inadequate contribution agreements.
"When we talk about a renewed Nation-to-Nation relationship - respect, cooperation and partnership - we need to include a new fiscal relationship," said National Chief Bellegarde. "We can reach a point that sees First Nations people truly sharing the land, the resources, in every sense. We can have real economic development. We can put in place a new fiscal arrangement between us that reflects the Constitutional status of First Nations, one that finally embodies the spirit of sharing and caring that was laid out by our forefathers in Treaty relationships so long ago. These are concrete steps that can enable First Nations people to begin to truly contribute our intellect, ingenuity and creativity to Canadian society. And when that happens, we are all better off."
The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.
SOURCE Assembly of First Nations
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