OTTAWA, Oct. 7, 2013 /CNW/ - Today, on the 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation by King George III, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo strongly urged the federal government to join First Nations in acting now for change. At a press conference in Ottawa, National Chief Atleo cited this significant anniversary as an opportunity to reflect on and reset the relationship between First Nations and Canada, reminding the federal government and all Canadians of the unique relationship between First Nations and the Crown (now Canada) established hundreds of years ago with the intent for all nations to succeed.
"The 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation is about reflecting and focusing on the work we must do today to act on our commitments to one another to drive change together," said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo. "Today and every day we must recall the intent that brought all our ancestors together so many years ago, and ensure that the principles of mutual respect, mutual recognition and partnership are our guides going forward to achieve a better life for all of us. Too many First Nation children, families and communities are challenged on a daily basis to meet basic standards of life because we are not living up to the promises in the Treaties and other agreements that stem from the foundation of the Royal Proclamation."
October 7 marks the 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation which led to the Treaty of Niagara between the British Crown and First Nations through wampum diplomacy and the exchange of 24 Nations Wampum Belts and the 1764 Covenant Chain August 1, 1764. Some First Nations view the Proclamation as a precursor to colonization, yet it is also seen as setting the foundation for Treaty-making between First Nations and the Crown (now Canada). Recognizing and affirming Aboriginal title to First Nation lands, these events were significant in creating a foundation for subsequent Treaties based on a nation-to-nation relationship grounded in mutual respect, mutual recognition and partnership - principles that remain relevant and essential today.
"The approach, laws and policies of federal governments have been paternalistic at best and assimilationist at worst," said National Chief Atleo. "Our work today is about returning to approaches that recognize First Nations authority over our lives, our lands and our peoples, where First Nation governments are strong, the Treaties are alive and honoured and Treaty-making allows all of us to thrive. Let today mark an 'era of action.' It's clear to everyone that the paternalistic approach is not working and the status quo is failing everyone. We must commit today to return to the original relationship and act together for change."
National Chief Atleo will be joining First Nation Elders, leaders and community members at a number of events marking 250 years of the Royal Proclamation, including a sunrise ceremony in Ottawa earlier today. National Chief Atleo will participate in a public reception at the Museum of Civilization this evening from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. He will then travel to London, U.K. for a reception at the High Commission on October 8 and October 9 will deliver a keynote address at Oxford University. AFN Regional Chief Perry Bellegarde and representatives from the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations held a sunrise ceremony today in London, U.K. and are participating in a number of other commemorative events there as well.
"I strongly encourage First Nations and all Canadians to participate in events here in Ottawa and across the country, to learn more about our shared history and our shared relationship, understanding that we all have responsibilities to uphold our promises to one another. This is how we will move forward to realize the full potential of First Nations and Canada," said National Chief Atleo.
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.
SOURCE: Assembly of First Nations
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