Assembly of First Nations calls for support for Aboriginal Healing Foundation

OTTAWA, March 29 /CNW Telbec/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo and AFN Regional Chief Bill Erasmus today issued a call for all governments and the private sector to support the Aboriginal Healing Foundation so it can continue to fulfill its critical role in supporting Indian residential school survivors and their families.

"We cannot heal one hundred years of abuses in twelve years. Ending projects supported by the Aboriginal Healing Foundation now will create a gap in support at a time when it's needed the most," said National Chief Atleo, noting that projects delivered by the Aboriginal Healing Foundation will be especially important as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission launches its national hearings and commemorative events. "The Aboriginal Healing Foundation is a proven institution that's highly accountable and effective and should be given the opportunity to continue its good work in supporting health and healing for the survivors of residential school and their families."

Federal funding for the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, which currently provides culturally appropriate community-based services to Indian residential school survivors and families across Canada, ended as a result of this year's federal budget. Without support, 134 projects across various regions will end as of Wednesday, leaving entire regions without these healing and health supports, including Manitoba, Yukon, Nunavut and Prince Edward Island. This is in addition to the 1,211 projects that have had to end already, impacting thousands of residential school survivors and their families.

"The AFN is working with Health Canada on a broad health and healing support plan for Truth and Reconciliation Commission events, but more needs to be done to assist our people and communities," said National Chief Atleo, adding that the uptake on the Common Experience Payment (CEP) and Independent Assessment Process (IAP) has exceeded projections, also increasing need for healing and health supports for former students and their families.

"The Aboriginal Healing Foundation supports a range of diverse healing and health supports that are needed in our communities, as identified in the 2007 Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement," said AFN Northwest Territories Regional Chief Bill Erasmus. "The important work of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation is far from complete and we need to walk together on a healing journey to address the legacy of the residential school system and work towards reconciliation. This is consistent with the 2008 federal Apology to residential school survivors and their families."

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada released its evaluation of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation this March - one day following the federal Budget. The evaluation, which identifies an ongoing demand for healing, outlines a management response and work plan and reinforces the point that the Aboriginal Healing Foundation has been very effective and efficient in its delivery of programming.

Just as this Government committed 125 M in 2007, a renewal of this investment over the next three years would extend the Aboriginal Healing Foundation until 2013, providing the opportunity to continue to deliver First Nation-driven, community based healing and health supports to those impacted by the Indian Residential School system.

The Aboriginal Healing Foundation provides resources to Aboriginal communities that promote reconciliation and support in building and reinforcing sustainable healing processes that address the legacy of physical, sexual, mental, cultural and spiritual abuses in the residential school system, including intergenerational impacts. It has operated 1,345 quality projects since its inception in 1998.

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: Jenna Young, Assembly of First Nations Communications Officer at (613) 314-8157 or jyoung@afn.ca


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