NAN concerned about government's lack of consultation with First Nations prior to conception of new programs

    THUNDER BAY, ON, Aug. 19 /CNW/ - Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Deputy Grand
Chief Alvin Fiddler expressed concern about the lack of consultation with
First Nations prior to the inception of new programs following an announcement
for Aboriginal community justice initiatives made by Attorney General Chris
Bentley at the Thunder Bay Indian Friendship Centre today.
    "It's not so much about the content of today's announcement but rather
the process. Here we have another example of the government rolling out a new
program without first consulting the people who will be affected the most,"
said NAN Deputy Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler. "First Nations, including the NAN
communities should have been consulted. Holding a meeting one hour before the
announcement, as they did in this case, is just not going to cut it."
    The Government of Ontario announced today the inception of the Aboriginal
Victims Support Grant Program which will provide $2 million in funding from
the Victims' Justice Fund to Aboriginal communities and organizations in
Ontario, including First Nations, Metis and Inuit, for one-time projects to
enhance supports to victims of crime.
    "First Nation people continue to be over represented as victims of crime
as well as in the correctional system, in relation to the rest of the
population. Something definitely needs to be done, but it needs to be done
properly and with consultation with First Nations. We need to look at the
system itself and address what changes need to be made," said Fiddler.
    Also announced today was $96,000 for the Aboriginal Community Council
Program, operated by the Thunder Bay Indian Friendship Centre as well as
$41,000 to provide Thunder Bay's courts with specialized reports on Aboriginal
offenders when making sentencing decisions.

    Nishnawbe Aski Nation is a political territorial organization
representing 49 First Nation communities in James Bay Treaty 9 and Ontario
portions of Treaty 5 - an area covering two thirds of the province of Ontario.

For further information:

For further information: Kristy Hankila, A/Director of Communications -
Nishnawbe Aski Nation, (807) 625-4952 or (807) 629-1512 mobile.

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