Statement by AFN National Chief Phil Fontaine regarding Truth and Reconciliation Commission

    OTTAWA, Nov. 16 /CNW Telbec/ - National Chief Phil Fontaine issued the
following statement today in response to the article, "AFN offers plan to
salvage residential-schools body," which appeared in the Globe and Mail on
Saturday, November 15, 2008.
    "As the National Chief and duly elected spokesperson for the Assembly of
First Nations, I wish to assure Canadians and especially survivors, that the
Assembly of First Nations has full confidence in the integrity of the current
process, facilitated by Mr. Justice Iacobucci, to repair the damage done to
the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as a consequence of the resignation of
Justice Harry Laforme."
    "The primary concern of the Assembly of First Nations has been, and
remains, caring for the needs and interests of the more than 80,000 Survivors
of Indian Residential Schools and ensuring that the Commission will
re-commence its work at the earliest possible opportunity, re-invigorated,
strengthened, and free of outside interference."
    "I wish to stress that the Assembly of First Nations respects and
understands not only the need for the Commission to be independent and strong,
we also understand the confidential nature of the sensitive discussions we are
now embarking upon with Mr. Iacobucci. Unless confidentially is maintained,
the task of repairing the TRC becomes much more time consuming and difficult."
    "Over the past few days and weeks, there has been much speculation,
misinformation, exaggeration, and improper disclosures from a number of
sources. Emotions are running high and many people are speaking out. For
example, on October 30,2008 Joe Friesen wrote a story in the Globe and Mail
citing sources "close to the Commission" which disclosed information regarding
the meetings held with Mr. Iacobucci in Toronto on October 29th. This was
improper and should be immediately stopped by those responsible."
    "I would also like to make clear that all of the comments attributed to
Mr. Ken Young in the article that appeared in the Globe and Mail on November
15, 2008, are speculative, personal and solely his own. Mr. Young is a
survivor of Indian residential schools and has the right to express his own
opinions on matters relating to Indian Residential Schools and the Truth and
Reconciliation Commission. However, his views as expressed in the November
15th article do not constitute the AFN's official position on the matters
currently under discussion with Mr. Iacobucci and the other parties to the
Settlement Agreement."
    " We are committed to the efficient resolution of the TRC problems and
regret the confusion, misunderstanding, or difficulties that may have been
caused by Mr. Young's expression of personal opinion, or the opinions
expressed by numerous others, including those offered by unnamed sources
"close to the Commission."
    "The Truth and Reconciliation Commission is far too important for the
country, for survivors and for First Nations Communities to allow us to get
sidelined by speculation and opinion."
    "As a party to the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, the
Assembly of First Nations remains steadfastly committed to working with all of
the parties to the Settlement Agreement to repair and strengthen the Truth and
Reconciliation Commission in a timely and professional manner."

For further information:

For further information: Karyn Pugliese, A/Director of Communications, 
cell: (613) 292-1877,

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