OTTAWA, April 8 /CNW Telbec/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo commented on the findings of the National Urban Aboriginal Peoples Study released earlier this week noting consistency with First Nation interests.
"There are interesting findings in this study that reinforce advocacy efforts of First Nations as well as pointing out the importance of bridging the divide in awareness and understanding between First Nations peoples and other Canadians," said National Chief Shawn Atleo. "As a public opinion survey, such research needs to be matched with broader studies that also look at outcomes and actual needs, including stabilizing basic programs and services on reserves and working together to create guarantees in critical areas such as health and education - something that is enjoyed by all other Canadians. When we look at all of this information together, we see a compelling call to action among all levels of government - federal, provincial and First Nation - to work together to create the conditions for success no matter where our people reside."
The report, prepared by the Environics Institute, focuses on the identities, experiences, values and aspiration of Aboriginal peoples - First Nations, Métis and Inuit - residing in cities. While the methodology used established a representative sampling based on the Census which included those living in temporary shelters (3%) and the homeless (0.5%), which included in person interviews, it will be important to expand on this research to assess the needs of these vulnerable populations.
The study confirms the important role of education - something that has been identified as a top priority by the AFN and First Nation leadership across Canada - stating that: "Those who plan to pursue post-secondary education say that career goals are their main reason for doing so. But interestingly, those who have already completed college or university say the greatest impact of higher education has been to help them feel more empowered - in part by expanding their knowledge of their Aboriginal heritage and identity."
"The survey reinforces First Nations' own priorities, which include education and improving the quality of life in our communities," said AFN Ontario Regional Chief Angus Toulouse. "The fact that urban Aboriginal people surveyed share these priorities demonstrates the importance of ensuring stable, secure education systems for First Nations no matter where they live and building strong and capable First Nations governments."
It is important to note that the study also highlights that "urban Aboriginal peoples retain a strong connection to their Aboriginal communities or places of origin," and that "overall, among those who have moved back, they are more likely to be First Nations peoples (and Inuit). The study notes that 47% of First Nations people either plan to return home or have not made a decision one way or the other. Certainly, we can see a correlation here that success in the urban environment is directly linked to success in First Nation communities including provision of solid education, cultural and linguistic foundations.
"First Nations citizens leave their reserves for many reasons - some may wish to pursue post-secondary education or an employment opportunity, but leaving the reserve does not mean they are abandoning the community or their rights as First Nation citizens," said AFN Ontario Regional Chief Toulouse, adding that First Nations are working together across all jurisdictions to build capacity and stabilize administrations to foster healthy, economically sustainable communities that can be places where people can live and thrive. "There is great opportunity for our communities to grow and to prosper, but we have to get the fundamentals right so that there is opportunity for First Nation communities to be viable, successful societies and economies."
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.
SOURCE Assembly of First Nations
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