OTTAWA, Sept. 4, 2012 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo today expressed support for 'March 4 Justice' - a social justice campaign led by Leo Baskatawang whose cross-country walk culminated on Parliament Hill in Ottawa today.
"I've had the pleasure of meeting with Leo a couple of times during his trek from Vancouver to Ottawa for social justice, and I fully support his efforts to highlight some of the daily and ongoing challenges First Nation peoples face as a result of the Indian Act," said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo. "This kind of grassroots initiative and leadership is important to raise awareness and prompt effective dialogue as we press to achieve change nationally by implementing First Nation rights, responsibilities and jurisdiction."
Joined by Ashley Bottle, Clifford Acoby, Edmond Jack, April Sawanas and Stephanie MacLaurin at different times along the journey, Mr. Baskatawang left Vancouver, B.C. April 23 with a copy of the Indian Act chained to his body. He explains this demonstration will 'symbolize how, we, as (First Nation) peoples, have essentially been imprisoned by this piece of legislation in the past, as well as now; it will demonstrate our collective enmity toward this document; as well as symbolize its future erosion, not withdrawal entirely, by dragging it across the countryside.'
Many First Nations across Canada are advancing plans to move away from the Indian Act in ways that work for themselves and their communities.
"Moving beyond the Indian Act is about ending unilateral approaches by government and supporting and empowering First Nation governments to drive solutions in ways that respect their rights, responsibilities and decision-making abilities," said National Chief Atleo. "March 4 Justice is one of many efforts to draw attention to the need for action-based change and the momentum among First Nations to drive this change. We cannot do it alone, however. Working together is the basis of the commitments made at the Crown-First Nations Gathering in January of this year. First Nations are pressing to achieve change based on the Crown-First Nation relationships and building solutions that work for their people and their communities."
For more information on Leo Baskatawang or March 4 Justice, follow @march_4_justice on Twitter.
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow @AFN_Updates, @AFN_Comms.
SOURCE: ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS
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