AFN National Chief and Federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister Announce Joint Action Plan, Reaffirms Relationship to Achieve Real Results for First Nations

OTTAWA, June 9, 2011 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Minister John Duncan today announced an action plan to improve the lives of First Nation citizens in Canada.

"This plan begins with key principles that recognize and affirm Aboriginal and Treaty rights," said AFN National Chief Atleo. "By affirming the relationship between First Nations and the Government of Canada, and setting clear priorities, we can achieve real results for our peoples.  First Nations have been consistently calling for real engagement and real partnership to advance First Nation priorities and to build on the apology for residential schools as well as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  Today's report by the Auditor General shows we have much work to do and we can move forward by working together in partnership and respect."

The Canada-First Nations Joint Action Plan expresses commitment to work together to strengthen the Crown-First Nations relationship while providing assurance that it will not negatively impact any local or regional processes that First Nations are engaged in.  The plan includes a commitment to reform the comprehensive claims policy and strengthen negotiations as well as advancing work on Treaty implementation. 

Based on the common goal of improving the lives of First Nation citizens, the Joint Action Plan identifies four shared priority areas for action:  education; accountability, transparency, capacity and good governance; economic development; and negotiation and implementation.

"First Nations have set clear priorities based on our rights and Treaties.  We also face urgent needs in many of our communities.  This plan recognizes and affirms our rights, addresses key areas like education, improving negotiations and getting at the issues of capacity for First Nation governments. First Nations governments are certainly ready to exercise our rights and our responsibilities.  Working together and tackling the issues head-on with the federal government, we can achieve the change that is needed.  Working in partnership and in mutual respect was the original vision of our ancestors and this must guide our path forward," stated National Chief Atleo, adding that he looks forward to elaborating the plan with First Nation leadership across the country.

"Ultimately, any decisions will be up to First Nation governments working through options and opportunities with their respective communities.  We will ensure that First Nations are meaningfully engaged at every step of the way forward.  This plan, consistent with clear mandate from First Nation leadership, is only the beginning.  We have much work do and I look forward to continuing to take forward direction and facilitate opportunity to achieve change," concluded National Chief Atleo.

The Canada-First Nations Joint Action Plan and other information about the Joint Plan is available at http://www.afn.ca/index.php/en/news-media/current-issues/canada-first-nations-work-plan-to-strengthen-relationships

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.  AFN and National Chief Atleo are on twitter.  Follow @AFN_Updates, @AFN_Comms and @NCAtleo.

SOURCE ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS

For further information:

Don Kelly AFN A/Communications Director 613-241-6789 ext. 334; 613-292-2787 or dkelly@afn.ca

Jenna Young AFN Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 401; 613-314-8157 or jyoung@afn.ca

Alain Garon AFN Bilingual Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 382; 613-292-0857 or agaron@afn.ca

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