AFN National Chief and Youth Council launch National Day of Political Action

    OTTAWA, Sept. 29 /CNW Telbec/ - Today, AFN National Chief Phil Fontaine
and the AFN National Youth Council launched the National Day of Political
Action as one of the initiatives of "Vote '08, Change Can't Wait!". This
campaign aims to increase First Nations political participation, to encourage
voting among First Nations voters and to increase the profile of Aboriginal
issues in this election.
    "During the June 11th Apology to residential school survivors, every
federal party leader expressed a desire for collective reconciliation,
fundamental change and a future based on respect and recognition of who we are
as First Peoples. It is time to fulfill this promise. We are calling on all
federal parties to put their words into action by laying out clear platforms
aimed at effective and meaningful change," said National Chief Phil Fontaine.
"First Nations and all Canadians who witnessed the apology want to see an
improved quality of life for First Nations children and citizens. Canadians
know that when First Nations do well, we all do well as a country."
    AFN National Youth Co-chair Ken Watts added that there are more than
115,000 First Nations youth (aged 18-30) of voting age, is a significant
number of the total First Nations voting age population.
    "I am encouraging all First Nations youth to become active in this
campaign. Whether that means going to local all-candidates debates and asking
questions on First Nations issues, writing to media with your concerns and
questions, speaking with your candidates, or finally by voting for a party
which sets First Nations issues as priority," said Ken Watts. "First Nations
youth are wondering 'What are the next steps in reconciliation?' They want
party leaders to answer the question 'Now what?'"
    The AFN and AFN National Youth Council are also calling on youth and all
First Nations citizens to write to the Broadcasting Consortium, who represent
Canada's largest television networks, to demand that questions on First
Nations issues be put to party leaders during the upcoming televised debates
scheduled for October 1 and 2.
    "The AFN National Youth Council has always encouraged youth to make an
informed decision regarding participation in the federal election. Yet, in the
last election, media did not ask a single question on First Nations, Inuit or
Métis issues," said youth co-chair, Nicole Minde. "I also believe that a
growing number of non-aboriginal Canadians are interested in social issues
impacting First Nations youth such as safe drinking water, access to health
care, building First Nations economies, fair funding in the education and
child welfare systems, as well as hearing each party's vision on how
reconciliation will address these issues."
    The AFN named September 29 a National Day of Political Action in First
Nation communities as part of its "Vote '08, Change Can't Wait!" On this day
and each day leading up to the October 14 election,, First Nation communities
are encouraged to participate in a variety of political activities such as
engaging with their citizens and local candidates, hosting community meetings
and town halls, discuss platforms with each other, and other political events
so that First Nation citizens can make an informed choice in the federal
election. This initiative is also aimed at soliciting a clear and robust First
Nations platform from each political party.
    Given the slim margin of victory in over 50 ridings in the last general
election, the AFN believes First Nation citizens can influence the outcome of
this election and the future of First Nations public policy. As there are more
than 800,000 citizens, a significant number of whom are voting age, First
Nations can make a difference in this election.

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

    The AFN Youth Council strives to influence the direction of the Assembly
of First Nations through advocacy, equality and working with all levels of
leadership, in creating opportunities for personal development and empowerment
for the future of all generations.

    Press Conference:

    When:   10:00am Monday September 29, 2008
    Where:  Charles Lynch Room, Centre Block, Parliament Hill
    Who:    Phil Fontaine, Assembly of First Nations
            Nicole Watts, Co-Chair, National Youth Council, Assembly of First
            Denis Howlett, Make Poverty History
            Gerry Barr, Canadian Council for International Cooperation

For further information:

For further information: Gina Cosentino, Government Relations, National
Chief Office, (613) 314-2661,; Karyn Pugliese, Health and
Social Communications, (613) 241-6789, ext. 210, cell: (613) 292-1877,

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