WASHINGTON, DC, Jan. 20 /CNW/ - The inauguration of President of the
United States Barack Obama offers hope and inspiration for Canadians of all
races and creeds, says BC Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Shawn
A-in-chut Atleo, who was in Washington DC today to witness the ceremonies.
"One of the key messages for me was that of us all working together,
accepting responsibility, the idea that we are all one," said the Regional
Chief. "This is an important message for our people - the idea that we are all
one and all connected is the deepest of our teachings - and it was a powerful
thing to see so many here today inspired to think this way."
"What I saw was a President who has the ability to inspire his own
nation, and others, to aspire and to achieve, and that in itself is an
incredible accomplishment," Chief Atleo said. "It will take time and great
perseverance for President Obama to deliver on the promise that so many see in
him - and we can only hope that the expectations placed on his shoulders will
be accompanied by the willingness to give him the time and support he will
need if he is to persevere," he added.
The Regional Chief said the symbol of the US electing a black president
150 years after Lincoln first freed the slaves is not lost on American Indians
or Canadian First Nations, who have fought their own long battle for respect
and rights, but that it goes beyond these two groups. Chief Atleo said that
President Obama's message of inclusion and respect was equally important. He
noted that President Obama had an unprecedented seven American Indians on his
transition team and has appointed an American Indian as Assistant Secretary of
Atleo was part of a delegation led by Assembly of First Nations National
Chief Phil Fontaine that was invited to witness the inauguration by
representatives from the Cherokee Nation and the National Congress of American
"Our hosts were nodding as America's 44th President spoke and told me
that they believe he is a man who is a strong leader but also one who shows
respect," said Atleo. "If there is a first lesson we can take away from today
it is the need, who ever we might be and wherever we might be, to offer hope,
inspiration, inclusion and respect as the impetus for shaking off the past and
embracing a better future," he added.
BC Regional Chief A-in-chut is elected by and accountable to the 203
First Nations in British Columbia.
For further information:
For further information: Ryneld Starr, Communications Officer, BC
Assembly of First Nations, (604) 922-7733 or cell (604) 837-6908 or