National Chief speaks to First Nations youth at the AFN National Youth Electoral Awareness Forum in Ottawa

    OTTAWA, March 29 /CNW Telbec/ - National Chief Phil Fontaine told a
national group of First Nations youth from across Canada this morning that
each one of their votes could make a real difference in the outcome of the
next federal election.
    "There are over 50 ridings across this country where First Nations make
up 10 per cent or more of the total potential voters," said National Chief
Fontaine. "Every year, more and more of our young and growing population
reaches the voting age. As we've seen in the recent Quebec election, the ADQ
party went from five to 41 seats thanks to its core voters who are 18 to
35 years-old.
    "If we want to exercise more influence on political parties and
governments, at all levels, then First Nations must participate in the
electoral process," said National Chief Fontaine. "I want to make it clear
that the work we are doing with Elections Canada is non-partisan and respects
the rights of our people who choose not to vote."
    The Forum is an opportunity for First Nations youth from across the
country to gain a better understanding of the federal elections process and
First Nations' involvement within it. Through presentations and workshops, the
youth will discuss their political priorities, barriers to First Nations
participation in the electoral process, and make recommendations about how to
increase First Nations voter turnout. This Forum is part of the second phase
of a larger, non-partisan, joint awareness campaign between the AFN and
Elections Canada.
    Last December, the AFN and Elections Canada entered the second phase of
First Nations voter awareness campaign. The AFN has produced a voter awareness
handbook that will be distributed to First Nations communities across the
country. The handbook and other materials will be posted on the AFN website.
    "Our voices must not only be heard within our communities, but across the
entire nation that is Canada," said National Chief Fontaine. "The vote of
every person in every one of our communities can make a real difference - it
is up to you to make it count."

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

For further information:

For further information: Nancy Pine, Communications Advisor, Office of
the National Chief, (613) 241-6789 ext. 243, Cell: (613) 298-6382,; Bryan Hendry, A/Director of Communications, (613) 241-6789 ext.
229, Cell: (613) 293-6106,

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