TORONTO, May 28 /CNW/ - A candidate for the office of National Chief told
a Bay Street audience that economic development should be a priority in
improving social conditions for First Nations across Canada.
John Beaucage, Grand Council Chief of the 42 member communities of the
Anishinabek Nation in Ontario, spoke to the Economic Club of Canada about his
bid to become leader of the Assembly of First Nations.
"The National Chief must play a key role in the development of First
Nations economies and in making economic development a top priority as the
means of addressing poverty and building sustainable communities and
self-sufficient Nations," Beaucage told an audience of business, government
and First Nation leaders.
Beaucage, who earned a degree in economics and operated his own business
before entering First Nation politics, outlined his plan to create a "Blue
Ribbon Committee on the Economy", consisting of successful First Nations
business leaders, academics and mainstream partners to design a national
master plan for the development of First Nations economies.
"Together, First Nations, government, industry and Corporate Canada can
make First Nations economic development a priority. I truly feel that
public-private partnerships are the way forward. As governmental resources and
funding decline, and the recession dominates business and investment
decision-making - we cannot allow innovative and potentially-lucrative First
Nations initiatives to go by the wayside."
A key element of Beaucage's platform is to fundamentally change the way
First Nations are funded. He proposes to move away from the existing
"contribution" approach through the federal Ministry of Indian and Northern
Affairs into a system of transfer payments and equalization similar to the way
in which provinces receive federal funding support.
"First Nations must be able to run our governments and communities
through a combination of transfer payments and equalization from the federal
government, resource-revenue sharing, as well as self-generated income," said
the Grand Council Chief.
The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is the National organization
representing First Nations in Canada. There are over 630 First Nation
communities in Canada. The elected Chiefs from each First Nation will cast
their vote to elect the National Chief in Calgary, Alberta on July 22, 2009.
Grand Council Chief John Beaucage is a citizen of Wasauksing First
Nation, and has led the 42 member First Nations of the Anishinabek Nation in
Ontario since 2004.
For further information:
For further information: Marci Becking, Communications Advisor, (705)
497-9127, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Bob Goulais, Executive Assistant to
the Grand Council Chief, (705) 498-5250, E-mail: email@example.com