OTTAWA, Sept. 28, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde said this evening's Munk Debate on Canada's foreign policy with federal party leaders demonstrates the need for greater inclusion and focus on First Nations and Indigenous priorities in the last weeks leading up to the federal election.
"Indigenous rights are human rights, and federal leaders must show commitment to action with First nations and Indigenous peoples globally," said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. "Tonight's debate focused on foreign policy which is directly connected to First Nations rights and priorities including human rights, international trade deals, environmental protection and honouring international instruments like the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We need to see more inclusion of First Nations priorities and other Indigenous peoples and priorities in this discussion. We must be fully involved in decision-making tables here in Canada and globally."
This evening's debate was moderated by Rudyard Griffiths on behalf of Munk Debates. Topics, themes and questions were informed by a council made up of leading scholars of international affairs from across Canada and overseas. Questions ranged from Canada's response to ISIS, refugees and Bill C-51, to foreign aid, relationships in the Arctic and with Russia, climate change and trade agreements.
"Canada could be an example to the world by working with First Nations here at home to give life to our rights and implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples," said National Chief Bellegarde. "Now is the time to take action to close the gap in the quality of life between First Nations people and Canadians. First Nations were not meant to be poor in our own homelands. We want to work with the party that forms the government and all parliamentarians to ensure Indigenous rights and Indigenous peoples are respected here in Canada and around the world."
On September 2nd National Chief Bellegarde released Closing the Gap: 2015 Federal Election Priorities for First Nations and Canada. The priorities document calls for the implementation of theUN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and its standard of free, prior and informed consent on any activities or initiatives that could impact Indigenous lives, rights or traditional territories.
"First Nations priorities are Canada's priorities and only when First Nations succeed, will Canada fully succeed," said National Chief Bellegarde. "I echo the sentiment at the conclusion of the debate and continue to encourage First Nations and all Canadians to vote on October 19."
The AFN is convening an Open Forum on First Nations and the 2015 Federal Election on October 7, 2015 at the Edmonton Marriott at River Cree Resort in Enoch, Alberta. There will be discussions on First Nations priorities, regional approaches and activities on voting and maintaining momentum throughout the election and beyond. Federal party leaders have been invited to the Open Forum to engage with First Nations.
For more information on First Nations priorities for the federal election and on closing the gap visit: http://www.afn.ca/uploads/files/closing-the-gap.pdf
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: Jenna Young Castro, AFN Communications Officer (613) 241-6789 ext 401 or (613) 314-8157 or [email protected]; Alain Garon AFN Bilingual Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 382; 613-292-0857 or [email protected]