OTTAWA, June 19 /CNW/ - First Nations citizens who live away from their
communities and in urban centres will be given a significant say in A New AFN,
says John Beaucage, candidate for National Chief.
If elected as National Chief, Beaucage plans to introduce a new Urban
Citizens Commission into the committee structure of the AFN including a
portfolio representative on the national executive.
"Our urban citizens need to have a stronger voice in a new AFN. They have
unique needs and circumstances that are much different than those citizens who
live on-reserve. We not only need to hear their voice, but be responsive to
the needs of all First Nations people," said Beaucage who will speak tonight
at an All-Candidates Forum on Urban First Nations Issues in Ottawa.
Beaucage challenged the legitimacy of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples,
a conservative-leaning group who purport to represent the interests of
"The Supreme Court, through the Corbiere decision, has rightfully
re-affirmed all our citizens' right to vote for their Chief and community
leadership," said Beaucage. "Their only legitimate voice and representatives
are the Chiefs they vote for, and the AFN National Chief."
"We will truly represent our citizens and their interests wherever they
choose to live," added Beaucage.
Beaucage also committed to further developing the relationship with the
National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC), a network of 118
urban-based agencies across Canada. NAFC signed a Memorandum of Understanding
with the AFN in 2006. According to Beaucage, the relationship with the
Friendship Centres is about practicality and ensuring adequate services to all
First Nation citizens.
"Most First Nation governments are unable to extend front-line services
to their urban citizens. First Nations have a right to choose which agencies
provide these essential services to our urban communities. Our provider of
choice and partner in this are the Friendship Centres," said Beaucage.
As a part of his plan for A New AFN, Beaucage hopes to open up discussion
on implementation of the AFN's Renewal Commission report, including the
proposal to allow each and every First Nation citizen to vote for their
national chief. According to Beaucage "This is not about taking power away
from the Chiefs, but to empower a new AFN to work on behalf of all our
citizens no matter where they choose to live."
The plan for the one-citizen, one-vote can only be achieved through the
support of the Chiefs-in-Assembly, and through broader development of a new
Nationhood model and accountability structure for the National Chief.
"First Nations must work towards the restoration of our own model of
nationhood made up of our true nations. In essence, moving away from 633 First
Nations - from Aamjiwnaang to Zhiibhaasing - to governance based on the nearly
60 indigenous nations, from the Abenaki Nation to the Wendat Nation and all
those in between," said Beaucage. "However, there will always be a
Chiefs-in-Assembly and the National Chief will always take direction and be
accountable to those Chiefs."
The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is the national organization
representing First Nations in Canada. There are over 630 First Nation
communities in Canada. The elected Chiefs from each First Nation will cast
their vote to elect the National Chief in Calgary, Alberta on July 22, 2009.
John Beaucage is a citizen of Wasauksing First Nation, and served as Grand
Council Chief of the 42 member First Nations of the Anishinabek Nation in
Ontario from 2004 to 2009.
For further information:
For further information: Marci Becking, Communications Advisor, (705)
497-9127, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Bob Goulais, Campaign Manager, (705)
498-5250, E-mail: email@example.com