NAN hopeful federal cabinet shuffle will bring progress on First Nation issues

    THUNDER BAY, ON, Oct. 30 /CNW/ - Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief
Stan Beardy is hopeful that Prime Minister Stephen Harper's cabinet shuffle
Thursday will bring progress to resolve critical issues facing the people of
Nishnawbe Aski as Minister Chuck Strahl retains his portfolio at Indian and
Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) and Leona Aglukkaq has been named Canada's new
health minister.
    "We have worked hard to help Minister Strahl understand the many urgent
issues facing NAN communities, and his appointment at INAC ensures that we
have the necessary consistency and continuity as we work to have our issues
addressed," said NAN Grand Chief Stan Beardy. "As well, I think the
appointment of Leona Aglukkaq as Health Minister is the right choice, as her
years of public service in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories will bring a
fresh new perspective to Ottawa about First Nations and all people who live in
northern and remote communities."
    Strahl was appointed Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada in
August 2007. He was re-elected in the October 14, 2008 federal election as the
Conservative Party of Canada formed a consecutive minority government.
Aglukkaq was elected as the Member of the Legislative Assembly in Nunavut in
2004. She served as Minister of Health and Social Services and the Minister
Responsible for the Status of Women before being elected as Nunavut's Member
of Parliament in 2008 federal election.
    Beardy is hopeful that progress can be made with the Government of Canada
to resolve critical issues facing the people of Nishnawbe Aski.
    "We will continue to work with the Government of Canada to bring these
issues to the forefront, and I hope we can make some inroads on our basic
needs, especially in the area of capital infrastructure," he said.
    NAN communities are facing a housing and infrastructure crisis and lack
access to quality health care. Other major issues include the high cost of
living, high rates of unemployment, low educational outcomes, poor policing
services, and delays in the registration of Aboriginal children's births on
First Nations.
    "The people of Nishnawbe Aski are living in dire socio-economic
conditions. Unemployment has soared to around 85 per cent and the high cost of
living is causing never-before-seen levels of poverty and declining health,"
said Beardy, noting that the disparity between the standard of living in First
Nation communities and the rest of Canada must be addressed. "While the
Government of Canada is busy addressing serious economic conditions impacting
the health and well-being of non-native communities across the country it is
imperative that First Nations be included in the recovery of the Canadian

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

For further information:

For further information: Michael Heintzman, Media Relations Officer -
Nishnawbe Aski Nation, (807) 625-4906

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