Assembly of First Nations National Chief Says Treaties and UNDRIP Must Be Implemented to Achieve Change Required, and Change Deserved

OTTAWA, Dec. 10, 2012 /CNW/ - On International Human Rights Day Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo further expresses the importance of implementing Treaties and the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a basic standard for achieving the fundamental change required for First Nations in Canada.

"It is completely unacceptable in a country like Canada that we have people without adequate housing or safe drinking water, women being murdered or missing, and kids with no schools in their communities.  Together, First Nations are standing up to harness the strength and energy of our peoples to seize this moment as the time for change - the change we need, and the change we deserve," said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo.  "Today, and every day First Nations people across this country are asserting their rights and responsibilities to the lands, territories, communities and nations, and only with the full implementation of Treaties and other living agreements, documents and expressions of recognition will we see the fundamental transformation required for our peoples."

Just last week First Nation leaders in a unanimous statement of unity, agreed to stand together to defend our lands, territories, peoples and jurisdiction, to protect the integrity of Treaty and inherent rights, and to ensure economic stability and protection of the environment.  The declaration, supported by Chiefs in Assembly at the AFN Special Chiefs Assembly December 7, outlines the full support and participation of all First Nation peoples in decision-making process that impact inherent and treaty rights and stand united to reject assimilation and termination policies, processes or legislation imposed by other governments to harness the energy of our peoples, to seize this moment as the time for change, and to act now for our peoples based on our clear rights and responsibilities.

Today AFN joined the Canadian Teachers' Federation, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights to launch a national initiative on human rights education.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted on 10 December 1948. The date has since served to mark Human Rights Day worldwide, with the intent to celebrate human rights and advocate for the full enjoyment of all human rights by everyone everywhere.  This year's theme "My Voice Counts" is aimed at encouraging women, youth, minorities, persons with disabilities, Indigenous people, the poor and marginalized to make their voices heard in public life and be included in political decision-making.

"Today we've seen action across the country for change by our peoples, for our peoples, showing that First Nations are here to stay, and will not stay idle in the face of unilateral approaches by other governments," said National Chief Atleo.  "Together we must harness this energy, support action-based change and achieve a better day for our peoples based on clear rights and responsibilities."

On what's being called a National Day of Action and Solidarity or "Idle No More", First Nation peoples and supporters organized rallies and demonstrations across the country to express opposition to federal government legislation impacting First Nations, and to raise awareness of the need to address basic needs of First Nations.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was endorsed by Canada November 2010. 

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.  Follow AFN on Twitter at @AFN_Updates @AFN_Comms.


For further information:

Jenna Young, Assembly of First Nations Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 401 or cell: 613-314-8157 or e-mail

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