National Chief Phil Fontaine of the Assembly of First Nations expresses disappointment with the exclusion of Canada's First Nations people from today's upcoming First Ministers Meeting and issued the following Statement:

    OTTAWA, Jan. 11 /CNW Telbec/ - "The Prime Minister is hosting a First
Ministers meeting today and has excluded First Nations participation in the
discussions. With the economy as a key topic of discussion, the Prime Minister
and the Premiers should have included the Assembly of First Nations. We speak
for the fastest growing demographic, with the youngest population in the
country and our participation is key to the future economic success of Canada.
First Nations people can be Canada's skilled workforce, but we first have to
have access to the same quality of education, housing and living standards in
our communities that the rest of Canada has in theirs.
    Prime Minister Harper announced yesterday a community development trust
for "communities plagued by chronic high unemployment". This assistance, when
it arrives, will be welcome in communities across Canada, including the many
First Nation communities who are living with these challenges.
    I would like Prime Minister Harper to address the question - "How can
First Nations effectively address the challenges in their communities if we
are continuously excluded from the discussion and decision-making process?"

    The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing
First Nations citizens in Canada.

For further information:

For further information: Joan McEwen, AFN Communications Director, (613)
241-6789 ext. 242, cell: (613) 324-3329,; Nancy Pine,
Communications Advisor - Office of the National Chief, (613) 241-6789 ext 243,
cell: (613) 298-6382,; Josee Bellemare, Bilingual Communications
Officer, (613) 241-6789 ext. 336, cell: (613) 327-6331,

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