Assembly of First Nations offers support for Amun March

OTTAWA, May 7 /CNW Telbec/ - Today, the Assembly of First Nations declared their support for walkers participating in the Amun March. The Amun ("Big gathering") March began on May 4, 2010 in Wendake and will culminate in a gathering in Ottawa on June 1, 2010. The 500 kilometer march, led by Ms. Michèle Audette and Ms. Viviane Michel, aims to raise public awareness about ongoing issues of gender discrimination in the Indian Act.

"We congratulate all those participating in the Amun March for raising public awareness around this important issue," said National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo. "Until First Nations have control over First Nations citizenship we will continue to face problems. It is the right of any nation to identify its citizens and First Nations are no exception. That should be our goal and we look forward to working with the government on a new and better approach."

Thousands of First Nations citizens have been denied legal recognition as Indians under the Indian Act, because of a clause that treated First Nations women differently from men. The clause has existed in varying forms in the Indian Act since 1869. Past attempts to amend the Indian Act did not fully address the discrimination.

Bill C-3 is the most recent attempt to address the issue. The Bill is a response to a recent B.C. Court of Appeal Decision, known as the McIvor Case, which ruled that sections of the Indian Act discriminate against women. However, the amendments proposed in Bill C-3 do not address all of the issues with Indian Registration, such as the registration of children whose paternity is questioned and the right of First Nations to determine citizenship.

BC Regional Chief Jody Wilson-Raybould who is the national portfolio-holder on Supporting First Nations Governments, which includes Citizenship and Nation Re-building offered her support for the March. "We support our citizens who are taking up this march and who are hoping to see a further dialogue with government on this issue. The AFN advocates for Nation-to-Nation relationships between each First Nation and the Government of Canada and will continue seeking practical and innovative solutions to resolve these long standing barriers," said Regional Chief Jody Wilson-Raybould.

AFN Women Council Chair Kathleen McHugh also wished the Amun Marchers success on their walk, adding that the Indian Act has not only undermined First Nations' control over citizenship, but removed women - the language keepers, nurturers, and in many cases, decision-makers - from active participation in community life.

"The Indian Act has created artificial divisions within First Nations' communities and families and denied First Nation individuals' access to programs and services and rights. We are asking the federal government to work with us a on a broader approach that goes beyond the narrow amendments in Bill C-3 and to deal with the real issues of First Nations citizenship," said AFN Women's Council Chair Kathleen McHugh.

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

The AFN Women's Council ensures the perspectives of First Nations' women are included in all AFN policy directives and activities, as well as ensuring that the AFN is an effective advocate on behalf of First Nations women.

SOURCE Assembly of First Nations

For further information: For further information: Jenna Young, Communications Officer at (613) 314-8157 or jyoung@afn.ca or Alain Garon, Bilingual Communications Officer, Assembly of First Nations, (613) 292-0857 or agaron@afn.ca


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