AFN National Chief Comments on June 24 Day of Action: "First Nations are
Ready to Move Forward"

OTTAWA, June 25 /CNW Telbec/ - Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo issued the following statement responding to the National Day of Action held in locations across Canada on June 24, 2010:

"Thousands of First Nations citizens and supporters participated in demonstrations - including blockades, rallies and marches - on June 24, the day before Canada welcomes world leaders to the G8 and G20 meetings. This at a time when First Nations leaders have called on Canada to advance fundamental rights recognition through endorsement of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Assembly of First Nations, our Executive and First Nations citizens view this as a critical opportunity to re-set the relationship that has oppressed and discriminated against Indigenous peoples throughout Canada resulting in the deplorable conditions facing our peoples today.

At the AFN's December 2009 Special Assembly, First Nations leaders designated 2010 the 'International Year of Action' and our citizens seized this opportunity - and the global scrutiny that accompanies international meetings - to press for action on the First Nations agenda - an agenda that carefully sets out action to affirm rights, support building effective governance systems and advancing economic and environmental responsibility.

The AFN supports the peaceful actions taken by our citizens on June 24. We want movement on these issues: honouring the spirit and intent of the Treaties; respecting First Nations rights; strengthening First Nations languages and culture; better education, better homes, better opportunities, stronger economies and stronger First Nations governments. At the AFN, we are working on these issues every day, year round.

The message of June 24 is that First Nations people are no longer willing to wait. Our citizens have shown profound patience given the poverty of our people in the face of the nation's prosperity. A recent report by the Canadian Council of Provincial Child and Youth Advocates stated that First Nations children are in crisis; they lag behind other children across all social and economic indicators. By the age of 18 they are more likely to be involved in the criminal justice system than they are to graduate. More of our children are in state care today than during the peak of the Indian Residential School system.

Simply put, Canada is failing First Nations children. First Nations people will not stand by as our children suffer. Addressing current conditions requires a commitment to fundamental change and creating hope - hope through education and support for families and for success. The AFN has issued a Call to Action on First Nation Education which includes specific action required at all levels and in particular the Federal government committing to an equality and sustainability guarantee for every First Nation child.

Our time is now. The message from June 24 is that First Nations citizens are ready to move forward and we want all Canadians to walk with us.

We call on Canada to work with us on an agenda that will lead to real reconciliation and fulfill the promise of the Apology from Canada to First Nations on June 11, 2008. Canada speaks to its international commitments at the G8 and G20, yet First Nations people suffer while surrounded by the riches of their traditional territories.

The AFN will participate in the Queen's imminent visit to Canada. First Nations' historic relationship is with 'the Crown' and this will be an opportunity to remind everyone of this relationship and the duty and responsibility of the Government of Canada to deal with our people respectfully on a nation-to-nation basis.

Now is the time for action. We are all Treaty people. The AFN and our Executive have set out innovative and ambitious plans for progress. All we require is a willing partner who will work with us in the spirit of partnership and mutual respect, principles embraced in the Treaties and the UN Declaration.

We are ready to move. We are ready to work. But, as was made clear on June 24, we will not wait."

    
                                        National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo
                                                   Assembly of First Nations
    

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

SOURCE Assembly of First Nations

For further information: For further information: Alain Garon, Bilingual Communications Officer, (613) 241-6789 (382) or agaron@afn.ca


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