WHITEHORSE, July 17, 2013 /CNW/ - The Assembly of First Nations (AFN)
National Executive issued the following statement today on reports that
impoverished, hungry First Nations children were used as unwitting
research subjects by the Canadian government during the 1940s - 1950s.
National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo stated:
"This report has sent a shockwave through First Nations in Canada and
should be no less shocking to all Canadians and beyond. The reports of
these studies, in which more than a thousand Indigenous children were
denied essential nutrition and in some cases deliberately starved, were
reported as far back as 2000 but did not gain national attention.
Sadly, I have a deeply personal connection as my home community of
Ahousaht was one of the communities that had these studies imposed on
them unknowingly. My elders and family members were exposed to this
cruel and inhumane treatment where our children were treated like lab
Canadians need to understand that their own history is one of First
Nations being exposed to social engineering and treated as less than
human. This is a long line of experience that extends through the
residential schools, forced relocations and the ultimate attempt at
social engineering, the Indian Act that tried to wipe out our identity
and ways of life overnight. Canadians must understand that we are not
the authors of our misfortune but we must be masters of our future. We
are here only because of the strength and resilience of our Elders,
peoples and cultures. It is time to stop blaming the victim and time
for Canada to work with us to partners on a path to progress, to
recognize our inherent rights, title and Treaties and our right to
self-determination. This kind of horror would never have happened if
First Nations were in control of our own lives and communities.
This report has ignited a firestorm here at our Annual General Assembly
in Whitehorse and galvanized Chiefs to table an emergency resolution
calling for swift action and redress. The government must release all
information on this matter without delay. We are mindful that this same
government is withholding documents from the Truth and Reconciliation
Commission and in our own discrimination complaint before the Human
Rights Tribunal on First Nations child welfare. This shameful delay
must end. Action is required that is consistent with the Prime
Minister's apology for the residential schools that committed the
Government of Canada to work towards healing and reconciliation. It is
time to honour that promise.
And we must say to everyone: Canada, this is your history. We must
confront the ugly truths and move forward together."
The emergency resolution is expected to be discussed Wednesday afternoon
at the AFN Annual General Assembly. Plenary sessions are webcasted on
the AFN website at www.afn.ca.
The AFN's 34th Annual General Assembly started on July 16 and will end on July 18 in
The Assembly of First Nation is the national organization representing
First Nation citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms,
@AFN_Updates. Follow #AFNAGA for all Assembly updates and highlights.
SOURCE: Assembly of First Nations
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