AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde Statement on Earth Day 2016: Work With First Nations for a Healthier Planet

OTTAWA, April 21, 2016 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today marked Earth Day by calling on Canadians to work collaboratively with First Nations to build a stronger economy and a healthier planet through sustainable development.    

"First Nations bring tremendous understanding to the challenge of climate change, because our cultures have always placed a priority on protecting the lands and waters, that sustain us," said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. "Earth Day is a time to recognize our shared responsibilities to the environment, and to commit to working together to rebuild our economy while maintaining a healthy and thriving planet."

The National Chief, who heads to the United Nations in New York next month to attend meetings of the Permanent Forum on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, added: "We have rights recognized in Canadian law and international law, and responsibilities handed down from generations to respect and protect our traditional territories. Earth Day reminds us all that we can do better."

The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples affirms the fundamental rights of Indigenous peoples including their rights in their traditional territories. First Nations made clear at the Vancouver First Ministers Meeting that their role and responsibilities as peoples with inherent jurisdiction over the lands and waters must be a key element of any national strategy in Canada.

Earth Day is recognized every April 22. It is the largest environmental event in the world. Earth Day Canada was founded in 1990. The goal is to foster and celebrate environmental respect, action and behavior change that lessens our impact on the earth. This year's Earth Day Canada theme is #Rooting4Trees, encouraging Canadians to commit to planting 25,000 legacy trees for Earth Day's 25th Anniversary in 2016. For more information visit:

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


SOURCE Assembly of First Nations

For further information: Alain Garon, AFN Bilingual Communications Officer, 613-241-6789, ext. 382; 613-292-0857 or; Jenna Young Castro AFN Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext. 401; 613-314-8157 or

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