AFN National Chief Encouraged by Discussion with First Ministers

    OTTAWA, Jan. 16 /CNW Telbec/ - Assembly of First Nations National Chief
Phil Fontaine issued the following statement in regards to the meeting of
January 15 with the First Ministers on the Economy.
    "I am encouraged by our discussions with the Prime Minister, the federal
Minister of Indian Affairs and provincial and territorial leaders yesterday
evening. The themes in our plan were consistently and positively echoed by
First Ministers around the table. Indian Affairs Minister Strahl himself
stated that the AFN had 'set the bar' in terms of advancing constructive
proposals for the federal budget to be tabled January 27 and noted the
sentiment from First Ministers that 'good policy for Aboriginal people is good
policy for Canada.'
    The AFN's economic stimulus plan for First Nations calls for immediate
action on First Nations infrastructure to create jobs for Canadians and safer,
healthier communities for First Nations; First Nations education to secure a
strong and competitive economy now and in the future; and a repayable loan
fund to encourage partnerships between First Nations and the private sector
and support economic development for First Nations and First Nations
businesses. As well, we want a process that looks beyond the fiscal stimulus
to deal with structural changes that will create a more effective and
efficient way of addressing our issues.
    As Ontario Premier McGuinty said, the upcoming federal budget must be not
only about numbers. It must reflect this country's values. The budget must
include First Nations and a plan to tackle poverty. The Prime Minister spoke
strongly and movingly about the federal government's Apology to residential
schools survivors last June. As we are now in a post-Apology era, the focus
should be on reconciliation and a commitment to fairness for First Nations.
    The Prime Minister has heard us. Minister Strahl has consulted widely
with First Nations and has heard our voices. The provincial and territorial
leaders have heard us. We will continue to build support for our plan and
advocate strongly for action with the Prime Minister, the federal government
and all Canadians in advance of the federal budget.
    We are hopeful that the federal budget will reflect the widespread
support for our plan and take action in the interests of First Nations and

    Phil Fontaine
    National Chief
    Assembly of First Nations

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

For further information:

For further information: Don Kelly, A/Communications Director, Assembly
of First Nations, (613) 241-6789 ext. 334 or cell: (613) 292-2787 or e-mail; Gina Cosentino, Government Relations, National Chief's Office,
Assembly of First Nations, (613) 241-6789 ext. 356 or e-mail

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