AFN National Chief Calls National Day of Action an Overwhelming Success and Show of Support for First Nations: "A hundred thousand strong, and a hundred points of hope"



    
    "We are looking for the basic necessities of life that come with being
    Canadian - clean drinking water, decent housing, education and health
    care. We are looking for equality of opportunity so we can get good jobs
    and support ourselves and our families. We are looking to control our own
    destinies. Improving our lives will not only be good for us. It will be
    good for Canada."

                                            AFN National Chief Phil Fontaine
                                                Speaking to 3,000 supporters
      National Day of Action event on Algonquin territory in Ottawa, Ontario
    

    OTTAWA, June 29 /CNW Telbec/ - Assembly of First Nations National Chief
Phil Fontaine stated that today's National Day of Action organized by the
Assembly of First Nations was an overwhelming success.
    "First Nations and Canadians across the country organized and
participated in more than one hundred events," said National Chief Fontaine.
"This is one of the largest rallies in Canadian history based on the sheer
number of events and the number of locations. Today, the story is not about
conflict or confrontation. It is about the overwhelming critical mass of
support for justice and fairness for First Nations."
    The National Chief took part in the Ottawa event, which attracted
approximately 3,000 supporters. The National Chief was joined by political
leaders such as Liberal leader Stephan Dion and NDP leader Jack Layton, union
leaders, church leaders, First Nations leaders and citizens and many
non-Aboriginal Canadians. The Day of Action is also supported by all Premiers
and Territorial leaders and many businesses including Canadian Pacific
railways.
    "I hope the federal government takes note of this massive show of support
for our people and our cause," said the National Chief. "This is a Day of
Action and clearly Canadians want to see action. First Nations have a plan for
progress and prosperity. All we need now is for the federal government to step
up and demonstrate the will and the vision to work with us in partnership for
a better, stronger Canada."
    In his address to the crowd, National Chief Fontaine called for immediate
action to address the poor social conditions that afflict too many First
Nations. The National Chief called on the federal government to honour its
promises to First Nations; to implement the plan agreed to at the First
Ministers Meeting on Aboriginal Issues in Kelowna, BC; to apologize to
survivors of residential schools; and to work with First Nations to give life
to their rights as recognized in Canada's Constitution.
    The National Chief noted that all AFN-organized events were peaceful and
positive.
    "I thank all our supporters for gathering in a spirit of cooperation, and
I commend law enforcement officials for their commitment to a measured and
non-confrontational approach," said the National Chief.
    The National Chief noted that the Day of Action is only the beginning of
creating a new era of peace and prosperity for First Nations. The AFN's Annual
General Assembly takes place in Halifax, Nova Scotia July 10-12, during which
there will be a discussion about the National Day of Action and next steps. As
well, the National Chief has been invited to meet with all Premiers and
Territorial leaders on August 8 in Moncton, New Brunswick.
    "Today is only a beginning, but an excellent start to the work we must do
as a nation," said National Chief Fontaine. "If we were to look at Canada from
above today, we would see more than a hundred rallies and marches across the
land, and thousands and thousands of people showing their support for a better
quality of life for First Nations. Each event and each individual represents a
point of hope - hope for a better future for First Nations, and hope for a
stronger, more united Canada for all Canadians. We see the support for our
cause: more than a hundred thousand strong, and a hundred points of hope."

    The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing
First Nations in Canada.




For further information:

For further information: Bryan Hendry, A/Director of Communications,
(613) 241-6789, ext. 229, cell (613) 293-6106, bhendry@afn.ca; Nancy Pine,
Communications Advisor - Office of the National Chief, (613) 241-6789, ext
243, (613) 298-6382, npine@afn.ca


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