National Aboriginal Leaders to Speak at "Keeping the Promise" Land Claims Conference

OTTAWA, Feb. 11, 2013 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, National Inuit Leader Terry Audla, President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees Matthew Coon Come are three of a number of prominent Aboriginal leaders who will be speaking at the national land claims conference "Keeping the Promise: The Path Ahead to Full Modern Treaty Implementation", on February 26-March 1 in Gatineau, Quebec.

"We're very excited to have this high calibre of speakers and presenters at our conference," said James Eetoolook, acting president of Nunavut Tunngavik and co-chair of the Land Claims Agreements Coalition. "It demonstrates that treaty implementation is a critical issue, and one that Canadians are only beginning to understand."

Shawn Atleo has been the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations since 2009.  He is the hereditary chief of Ahousaht First Nation, part of the Nuu-chah-nulth Nation in British Columbia.  In his role as National Chief, Shawn Atleo supports and advocates for the advancement of First Nation priorities as directed by Chiefs-in-Assembly, including efforts to reform Canada's Comprehensive Land Claims Policy.  "The Assembly of First Nations continues to advance plans and approaches to achieve fundamental and transformative change driven by First Nations for First Nations.  This includes work toward the fair and expeditious resolution of land claims by reforming the Comprehensive Land Claims Policy based on the recognition and affirmation of Aboriginal rights and title, rather than the current process of denial and extinguishment.  In order for First Nations to be fully recognized and participate in driving our own economies, we must settle land claims. The land is the heart of our nationhood," said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo.

National Inuit leader Terry Audla, President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami is also no stranger to comprehensive land claims.  Audla has worked with regional Inuit organizations since Nunavut became a territory and Canada`s largest land claim was signed in 1999.  He has worked as an Implementation Coordinator and knows firsthand the challenges of working towards full implementation of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.

Matthew Coon Come, Grand Chief of the Grand Council of the Crees has been at the forefront of Aboriginal self-government negotiations and protecting Cree territory in northern Quebec for more than 40 years.  He has been involved in politics since he was a teenager and was a community and regional chief as well as a previous National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations.  Since the signing of the 1976 James Bay Northern Quebec Agreement, the first modern treaty in Canada, Coon Come has garnered international awards for his work to protect, acknowledge and assert Cree rights. The Grand Council of the Crees is one of the founding members of the Land Claims Agreements Coalition.

Other speakers at the ``Keeping the Promise conference include:

  • Justice Thomas Berger, perhaps best known as the Royal Commissioner of the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry in the 1970s
  • Emil Notti, first president of the Alaska Federation of Natives
  • Sven Roald Nysto, past president of the Norwegian Saami parliament
  • Joe Linklater, Chief of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation
  • Kevin McKay, Chairperson of the Nisga'a Nation
  • Cathy Towtongie, President of Nunavut Tunngavik
  • Toby Anderson, Deputy Minister-Nunatsiavut Affairs, Nunatsiavut government

The conference will bring together First Nations and Inuit leaders, government representatives, academics, industry and others working over three days to lay the foundations of a modern treaty implementation policy for public release and presentation to the federal government. The conference will also establish and publish a federal Implementation Report Card for annual release to measure and report on the federal government's implementation of treaty agreements. (

Formed in 2003, the Land Claims Agreements Coalition has membership from all modern treaty organizations in Canada. Its mandate is to ensure that comprehensive land claims agreements and associated self-government agreements are respected, honoured and fully implemented in order to achieve their objectives. Taken collectively, modern treaties affect nearly half of Canada's land, waters and resources.


For further information:

Patti Black, Coordinator
Land Claims Agreements Coalition
Tel: 613-453-0788   Email:

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