OTTAWA, Dec. 4, 2012 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo opened a three day Chiefs Assembly in Gatineau, Quebec this morning where First Nation leaders from across Canada are gathered to reaffirm a way forward to achieving transformative change for First Nations in Canada based on strength and unity, empowerment and First Nation-driven solutions.
The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) annual Special Chiefs Assembly will take place December 4-6 at the Hilton Lac Leamy in Gatineau, and will focus on the protection of First Nations Sovereignty and fulfilling the promise of Section 35 of the 1982 Constitution Act.
In a powerful address to First Nation leaders and Assembly delegates, National Chief Atleo spoke on behalf of the AFN national executive calling for First Nation citizens, families, young people, Elders and leaders to act now for social change.
"What I hear and what I see in all of the regions is an absolute determination to push back, to remain rock solid in our rights and identity, yet there is an equally firm conviction to push forward our own solutions to address the many challenges faced by our peoples," said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo during his opening remarks to more than 600 Chiefs and Assembly delegates Tuesday morning. "Together we are forever rejecting the status quo and the failures of the past that continue today. Together we have the solutions. We will not back down. We will stand firm on our rights and we will achieve change by acting now."
"The path from frustration and confrontation to constructive and principled engagement and meaningful partnership is not easy or simple. However, through affirming rights, identities and implementing First Nation-driven solutions, we can and will succeed," said National Chief Atleo. "We can and will achieve the change we desire and need for our peoples. Taking our rightful place as nations in our territories - we will answer the call, we will seize this historic moment of reckoning and fundamental change for First Nations in this country."
Following National Chief Atleo's speech, highlighting an example of the benefits of First Nations control of First Nations education, grade eleven student Karlee Johnson from Eskasoni First Nation in Mikmaq territory in Nova Scotia addressed the Assembly, sharing her positive experiences as an on-reserve student at Chief Allison Bernard Memorial High School.
This week, Chiefs and Assembly delegates will strategize on a range of issues and priorities. Key areas of discussion and strategy will include reconfirming next steps to achieving fair and equitable education for First Nations, continued efforts toward a First Nations water strategy, addressing key legislative changes in regard to fisheries and other environmental concerns, addressing gaps in health and mental health, housing, rights recognition, Treaty implementation, lands, resources and economic partnerships, and ending violence against Indigenous women and girls.
Other Assembly highlights include a Parliamentary Reception of First Nation leaders and parliamentarians for an evening of networking and information-exchange Tuesday December 4 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Westin Hotel's Confederation Room.
For a full Assembly agenda please visit http://www.afn.ca/uploads/files/sca_2012_draft_agenda_fe.pdf. Media are encouraged to register online at https://nt9.magma.ca/afn/register.cfm?ID=17.
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow us on Twitter @AFN_Updates, @AFN_Comms
SOURCE: ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS
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