National Chief Issues Statement on Resignation of Justice Harry LaForme as the Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission



    OTTAWA, Oct. 21 /CNW Telbec/ - "The Assembly of First Nations was
disappointed to learn about Justice Harry LaForme's resignation yesterday as
the Chief Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). We
fully supported his appointment and held high hopes for the success of the TRC
with him as one of three commissioners.
    While it is very unfortunate that Justice LaForme felt he had to resign,
the TRC is a court-supervised body that is governed by the Indian Residential
Schools Settlement Agreement. The TRC is intended to serve living and deceased
survivors, their families, and all Canadians as we move towards achieving
reconciliation of the legacy of Indian Residential Schools. The needs and
concerns of Survivors must remain our central focus as we move forward.
    The AFN has been in constant communication with other parties to the
Settlement Agreement and we remain committed to working together, including
with the Government of Canada, to ensure that the TRC is a success.
    On June 11, 2008 Prime Minister of Harper stated when offering the
Government of Canada's apology to Survivors, "A cornerstone of the Settlement
Agreement is the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation
Commission. This Commission presents a unique opportunity to educate all
Canadians on the Indian Residential Schools system. It will be a positive step
in forging a new relationship between Aboriginal peoples and other Canadians,
a relationship based on the knowledge of our shared history, a respect for
each other and a desire to move forward together with a renewed understanding
that strong families, strong communities, and vibrant cultures and traditions
will contribute to a stronger Canada for all of us."
    Survivors are elderly and are passing away without having had the
long-awaited opportunity to tell their stories to the TRC.
    According to the Settlement Agreement, the federal government must
consult with the AFN on a mutually agreeable process and person to replace
Justice LaForme. We are prepared to act quickly with due regard to Survivors
but we must not lose the momentum that was created by the Apology of June
11th. We can not afford to be distracted from the purpose and intent of the
TRC and its work that is vital to the future First Nations-Canadian relations
in this country."

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




For further information:

For further information: Joan McEwen, AFN Communications Director, (613)
241-6789 ext. 242, cell (613) 324-3329, jmcewen@afn.ca


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