Candidate for AFN National Chief outlines approach to Women's Issues

    OJIBWAYS OF GARDEN RIVER, FN, April 21 /CNW/ - A leading candidate for
the office of National Chief is calling for empowerment of women in all areas
of First Nations governance.
    During his keynote remarks at the Anishinabek Nation Citizenship
Conference, Grand Council Chief John Beaucage announced "An Integrated
Approach to Women's Issues" as part of his election platform for July's
Assembly of First Nations (AFN) election.
    Each area of Beaucage's 10-point election platform includes specific
commitments to First Nations women about their involvement in what he calls a
New AFN.
    "In developing my policy agenda, I found a glaring need to address
changes in our approach to women's issues within the current policy construct
at the Assembly of First Nations," Beaucage told delegates at a conference
discussing proposals for an Anishinabek Nation Citizenship Law to replace
Indian Act system of band membership and "status". "Although there has been a
lot of effort in trying to address these inadequacies, more effort is needed
to engage First Nations women at the highest level in a renewed attempt to
deal with issues that are priorities for our grandmothers, mothers, sisters,
aunties and daughters."
    The Grand Council Chief also announced that the Co-Chair of his New AFN
campaign will be Jeannette Corbiere Lavell, who led a landmark 1973 Supreme
Court challenge of sections of the federal Indian Act that have since been
declared discriminatory against First Nations women. In May, 2008 Beaucage
appointed Lavell the first Citizenship Commissioner of the 42 member
Anishinabek First Nations.
    "Not only should we improve our focus on issues important to women -
including gender equity, family and children issues, and family violence - but
we need to ensure all issues addressed by the AFN take women's views into
account," said Beaucage. "We need to encourage more women to be Chiefs,
advisors and Elders within the Assembly of First Nations."
    "I am truly honoured that Jeanette agreed to be a co-chair, because the
importance of having a good voice for women's issues cannot be overstated. It
was Jeanette who jumped forward immediately, just like she's stepped forward
in the past to lead the fight against unjust treatment of women in the Indian
    Over the past 11 months, Corbiere-Lavell, a citizen of Wikwemikong
Unceded Indian Reserve, led the community engagement strategy to develop an
Anishinabek Nation law that will restore First Nations right to determine
their own citizens. The law, originally proposed by Grand Council Chief
Beaucage, will receive First Reading by the Anishinabek Nation Grand Council
Chiefs-in-Assembly in June.

    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.

    Grand Council Chief John Beaucage is a citizen of Wasauksing First
Nation, and has led the 42 member First Nations of the Anishinabek Nation in
Ontario since 2004.

For further information:

For further information: Marci Becking, Communications Advisor, (705)
497-1721; Bob Goulais, Campaign Manager, (705) 498-5250, E-mail:

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