AFN National Chief Says Throne Speech Commitments to Renewing the Relationship are Essential to Closing the Gap and Reconciliation


OTTAWA, Dec. 4, 2015 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde said that the commitment in today's Speech from the Throne to First Nations are positive and necessary steps toward reconciliation and closing the gap in the quality of life between First Nations people and Canadians.

"A new relationship with the government creates new opportunities to close the gap and move us all towards reconciliation," said AFN National Chief Bellegarde.  "First Nations and Canada share many priorities, all aimed at building a stronger country for all of us.  The key to action is working together in a nation-to-nation relationship.  The Speech from the Throne sets the right tone and we look forward to hearing more from the Prime Minister when he addresses our Special Chiefs Assembly next week.  My message is that First Nations are ready to move and we call on Canada to move with us."

Following a traditional First Nations Honour Song by David Charette of Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, delivered the Speech from the Throne today to open the 42nd Parliament.  The Speech committed to renewing, nation-to-nation, the relationship between Canada and Indigenous peoples based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership; to cooperatively implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action; launching an inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls; working with First Nations to ensure every First Nations child receives a quality education; and more fully engaging Indigenous peoples in reviewing and monitoring major resource development projects.

"Today's Speech from the Throne is an important confirmation of the government's commitments to First Nations and it promises action on our priorities that we put forward," said National Chief Bellegarde.  "We look forward to working with the government because our priorities are Canada's priorities.  Working together we can close the gap in the quality of life between First Nations people and Canadians and as a result everyone wins."

The speech comes as First Nations leaders, youth and Elders from across the country are preparing to gather in Gatineau, Quebec for the AFN's annual December Special Chiefs Assembly (SCA) under the theme "Shaping Our Future and Closing the Gap: Inherent and Treaty Rights, Reconciliation and Relationships", being held December 8-10.

Prime Minister Trudeau is scheduled to address the Assembly on the morning of December 8 at 9:10 a.m.  The federal Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Carolyn Bennett and the federal Fisheries Minister Hunter Tootoo will also address delegates during the SCA.  A detailed agenda is available at:

The SCA is open to media.  Media are encouraged to register in advance through the contacts below.

The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations 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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