AFN National Chief Phil Fontaine looking forward to working with new federal Minister of Indian Affairs announced today by the Prime Minister

    OTTAWA, Aug. 14 /CNW Telbec/ - Assembly of First Nations National Chief
Phil Fontaine said he is looking forward to working with the new federal
Cabinet announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Among other changes, the
new Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development is the honourable
Chuck Strahl, who replaces former Minister Jim Prentice.
    "We welcome the honourable Chuck Strahl as the new Minister of Indian
Affairs and view this as an opportunity to embark on new initiatives aimed at
a better future for all Canadians," said National Chief Fontaine. "The success
of the Minister of Indian Affairs is very much dependent on a positive
relationship with First Nations and we are ready to work on a positive agenda
aimed at lifting First Nations out of poverty. This requires a focus on two
key elements: our people and our lands. We must invest in education and
training for First Nations as the key improving the lives of our people, and
ensuring Canada has a skilled workforce to meet the coming labour shortage. As
well, lands are central to the ability of First Nations to build their
economies. We must ensure our people achieve a fair share in the benefits and
riches of their traditional lands, and we can do so through win-win approaches
like resource revenue sharing."
    The National Chief noted that this approach was widely endorsed by
provincial premiers and territorial leaders at the recent Council of the
Federation meeting. The National Chief will also present detailed proposals on
these initiatives as part of the upcoming federal Pre-Budget Submissions
    "It is increasingly clear that the future of First Nations and the future
of Canada are closely intertwined," the National Chief said. "We want to
continue to have a productive relationship that delivers on the legal
obligations that the federal government has with First Nations. This means
engaging with all Ministers and members of the government that have an impact
on First Nations, including Ministers for Health, Justice, Heritage, Finance
and many others. Working together for a better quality of life for First
Nations will benefit all of us. The provinces and territories are on side and
we need the federal government to join us in this national undertaking. We
congratulate all members of the new federal Cabinet and look forward to
working with them and the Prime Minister on a better future for all
    "I want to acknowledge the efforts of the previous Minister, Jim
Prentice," National Chief Fontaine said. "Working together we were able to
finalize the historic settlement for survivors of Indian Residential Schools,
as well as setting out a process to establish a new approach to resolving
specific land claims. We look forward to working with the new Minister and the
government towards a successful conclusion on both of these important

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

For further information:

For further information: Rene Pollett, Communications Specialist, (613)
241-6789, ext. 314, cell.: (613) 295-2149,

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