Assembly of First Nations National Justice Forum Aimed at Action Planning for Safe and Secure First Nation Communities

OTTAWA, Feb. 21, 2012 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo this morning opened the AFN National Justice Forum calling for action based on need and to secure support for First Nation-driven plans for achieving safe and thriving First Nation communities.

"The safety and security of our peoples and our communities is a main priority for First Nations in Canada," said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo.  "As we all know, healthy communities are thriving communities, and the tremendous potential of our peoples cannot be fulfilled if they feel unsafe or victimized within a system that doesn't work. Consistent with our rights and jurisdiction, we urge all levels of government to support capacity among First Nation governments to have the control to determine appropriate criminal justice and conflict resolution approaches in ways that work for our peoples and that respect and incorporate our values, philosophies and practices."

Over 600 delegates from across Canada are in Vancouver this week for the two-day National Justice Forum where they'll be asked to engage in discussions that will lead to the development of a National Justice Strategy and action plan to ending violence against Indigenous women and girls.

"No longer can our peoples be among the most vulnerable.  First Nations are acting now to implement plans based on the needs of our peoples and communities," said National Chief Atleo, of a draft First Nation Justice Strategy that proposes a series of strategic steps to address the overrepresentation of First Nation citizens in the justice system.  "First Nations want to work together with governments to make the required changes to the criminal justice system to respond to the needs of First Nations, and allow for the delivery of culturally relevant programs and services in law enforcement, dispute resolution and corrections."

The two-day action-planning Forum brings together national and regional Indigenous organizations and frontline justice workers, key stakeholders and representatives from the federal and provincial governments.  Specific areas of discussion will include community-based programs, diversion, sentencing and alternative measures, policing, crime prevention, courts and corrections.

Other Forum highlights include a special ceremony honouring missing and murdered women, presentations by RCMP representatives, including Commissioner Robert Paulson, the launch of an awareness campaign for missing children, presentation from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and update on the Indian Residential Schools Agreement.

The draft National Justice Strategy and action plan to end violence against women and girls are available at www.afn.ca

The Assembly of First Nation is the national organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @NCAtleo, @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.

SOURCE ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS

For further information:

Alain Garon, AFN Bilingual Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 382 or cell: 613-292-0857 or agaron@afn.ca

Jenna Young, AFN Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 401 or cell: 613-314-8157 or jyoung@afn.ca

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ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS

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