Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine seeks support and assurances from the Federal Government on proposed changes to Bill C-21



    OTTAWA, Nov. 20 /CNW Telbec/ - Today, the Standing Committee agreed to
proceed with a clause by clause review of Bill C-21 (formally Bill C-44) -- an
amendment to the Canadian Human Rights Act. The previous bill died when the
government prorogued this fall, however, the bill was reinstated in the House
of Commons last week without any amendments.
    "First and foremost I want to re-iterate that the Assembly of First
Nations (AFN) fully supports the collective and individual rights of all First
Nations people and as such, we support the Canadian Human Rights Act," said
AFN National Chief Fontaine. "However, we would like to see an adequate
transition and implementation period for the legislation. Just as the federal
government was able to conduct an impact assessment of the bill on its own
operations prior to its introduction, we too need the time and resources for a
similar opportunity to assess this bill's impact on First Nation communities,"
the National Chief added.
    "We want to work with the government to ensure that all human rights are
upheld and maintained," said National Chief Fontaine. "We want a commitment
from the Minister to work jointly with First Nations to identify the extent of
preparation, capacity, and fiscal and human resources required to comply with
the application of the Act. Our commitment to human rights is firm and was
demonstrated in our support for the passage of the United Nations Declaration
on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in September of this year."
    To achieve the necessary balance of individual and inherent Aboriginal
and Treaty rights, the AFN also recommends that Bill C-21 include
interpretative and non-derogation clauses. All of these concerns were
previously brought forward to the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and
Northern Development last spring and summer. At that time the committee heard
from the AFN, along with 20 other presentations. Those presentations indicated
a need for modest and practical amendments similar to what was proposed by the
AFN.

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




For further information:

For further information: Joan McEwen, Director of Communications, (613)
241-6789 ext 242, cell (613) 324-3329, jmcewen@afn.ca; Nancy Pine,
Communications Advisor - Office of the National Chief, (613) 241-6789 ext 243,
cell (613) 298-6382, npine@afn.ca; Josee Bellemare, Bilingual Communications
Officer, (613) 241-6789 ext. 336, cell (613) 327-6331, jbellemare@afn.ca


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