AFN National Chief Says Throne Speech Commitment to an Apology to Residential School Survivors a Positive Step but Details Needed on Other Promises

    OTTAWA, Oct. 17 /CNW Telbec/ - "I was very pleased to hear that the Prime
Minister will make a full apology to survivors of Indian residential schools
in last night's Speech from the Throne," said Assembly of First Nations
National Chief Phil Fontaine. "It is the right thing to do. This long-awaited
apology will be welcomed by First Nations. We will press the Prime Minister to
make the apology as soon as possible, ensuring that it will be made without
reservation in an appropriate, public ceremony. This will help provide closure
for Indian residential school survivors and their families."
    "First Nations are affected by every area referred to in the Speech from
the Throne. In addition, there were a number of specific references to First
Nations. We will carefully analyze the Throne Speech and the responses to it.
Accordingly, the AFN will work with First Nations and all Parliamentarians to
further shape and enhance these commitments."
    "The Throne Speech made a number of commitments in important areas like
clean water, northern housing and skills training, but it is critical that
these commitments be backed up by real investment and action. As well, the AFN
will continue to push for a comprehensive plan that will improve the living
conditions of First Nations on and off-reserve and ensure First Nations have
control over the decisions that affect their lives. Canada has the will and
the means to address these issues. This year's $14 Billion surplus means that
the government could have implemented all of the commitments in the Kelowna
Accord's 5 year plan in this year alone and still have had $9 Billion to put
into tax cuts for Canadians."
    The National Chief cited other positive developments in the Speech from
the Throne.
    "We are cautiously optimistic about the introduction of legislation to
deal with outstanding specific claims. We will continue working with the
federal government to ensure this legislation will meet First Nations needs.
To date the experience has been positive. I would encourage the federal
government to continue working with First Nations in a similar manner to avoid
the mistakes made on other pieces of legislation previously introduced in
Parliament," he said.
    "The AFN will strongly advocate for the needs and aspirations of all
First Nations in the second session of the 39th Parliament. First Nations
poverty cannot be ignored by Canadians. We will continue to look forward to
opportunities to work in partnership with the federal government in order to
implement our plan to eradicate poverty and to resolve many of the outstanding
issues First Nations continue to face," the National Chief concluded.

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

For further information:

For further information: Joan McEwen, AFN Communications Director, (613)
241-6789 ext. 242, cell: (613) 324-3329,; Nancy Pine,
Communications Advisor - Office of the National Chief, (613) 241-6789 ext 243,
cell: (613) 298-6382,; Josee Bellemare, Bilingual Communications
Officer, (613) 241-6789 ext. 336, cell: (613) 327-6331,

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