OTTAWA, Sept. 28, 2016 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde addressed the House of Commons' Standing Committee on Finance today to present the AFN's 2017 pre-budget submission. This submission addresses key areas that were not addressed or were under-funded in the 2016 budget. The AFN identifies priorities for the coming budget to show Canada's continuing commitment to renew the relationship with First Nations and to close the gap in the quality of life between First Nations and Canadians.
"Much of Canada's wealth comes from the resources of this land, which has not been equitably shared despite sacred promises of Treaties and First Nations inherent rights, title and jurisdiction," said National Chief Bellegarde. "We must invest in First Nations, Canada's youngest and fastest growing demographic. Not doing so costs more over the long term. The investments made in the 2016 budget are important commitments and represent a first step towards closing the gap after decades of under-funding and neglect. We all know there is much work left to do."
The National Chief put forward priority investments needed in areas that were not addressed in the last federal budget, such as post-secondary education and First Nations policing. He identified areas where the 2016 budget funding fell short, such as housing and the funds required to end discrimination in child and family services. The National Chief spoke to the importance of the work to be carried out under the Memorandum of Understanding on New Fiscal Relations signed by the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Carolyn Bennett, and the National Chief in July 2016.
"We have a long road to travel on the road to reconciliation," the National Chief said. "The federal budget is a signal to First Nations of Canada's commitment to a renewed relationship. Investing the wealth that has come from our lands back into our nations benefits everyone."
The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.
SOURCE Assembly of First Nations
For further information: For media requests or more information: Jenn Jefferys, Communications Officer, Assembly of First Nations, +1 613-222-9656, [email protected]; Alain Garon, Bilingual Communications Officer, Assembly of First Nations, +1 613-292-0857, [email protected]