OTTAWA, Nov. 29, 2016 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today welcomed the Auditor General of Canada's fall report on the federal Justice at Last policy aimed at resolving specific land claims, which found Canada did not adequately manage the process of First Nations land, legal and compensation claims. The report called out the need for a better approach to resolving claims, one designed and driven with direct First Nations engagement.
"There have been many calls over the years by Chiefs-in-Assembly for Canada to honour its commitments from Justice at Last," said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. "The Auditor General's Report echoes these concerns. It comes at a critical time when the federal government has committed to working with us, on a nation-to-nation basis, on a full federal law and policy review to ensure our rights are respected and upheld. It comes at a time when the government has committed to implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It is clear that the path forward on specific claims policy and reform must fully involve First Nations at every stage. Our expectation is that Canada will respond to the Auditor General's report meaningfully and expeditiously."
The AFN says the results of the Audit, which accepted submissions from the AFN, individual First Nations and First Nation organizations, re-affirms a longstanding concern regarding Canada's approach to specific claims. Justice at Last was put in place by Canada to reform the specific claims process, adopting key components like:
- Impartiality and fairness through the creation of an independent, binding tribunal;
- Greater transparency through dedicated funding for settlements;
- Faster processing of claims via a streamlined approach and,
- Better access to mediation.
During the 2015 AFN Special Chiefs Assembly, the Prime Minister committed to a full federal law and policy review to ensure that all government legislation is consistent with domestic and international legal norms on Indigenous rights.
AFN Alberta Regional Chief Craig Makinaw, portfolio holder for the Chiefs Committee on Claims, said: "The results of the Auditor General's report makes it clear that Canada has a long way to go if they are to address our legitimate claims in a just and meaningful way. It is clear that there are barriers and internal issues with Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada's current practices. A newly established AFN-Canada Joint Technical Working Group on Specific Claims is moving on identification of concrete solutions to the longstanding challenges that have plagued the resolution of specific claims. The joint recommendations for reform will signal this government's commitment to take real action in reforming the specific claims policy and process."
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.
SOURCE Assembly of First Nations
For further information: please contact: Alain Garon, AFN Bilingual Communications Officer, 613-241-6789 ext. 382, 613-292-0857 (cell), [email protected]; Jenn Jefferys, AFN Communications Officer, 613-222-9656 (cell), [email protected]