Welcome to the official website of the Crown-First Nation Gathering
On January 24, 2012 the Crown-First Nation Gathering took place in Ottawa with over 170 Chiefs meeting with the Governor General, Prime Minister and 12 Cabinet members.
As noted, the Crown-First Nation Gathering was an important first step in renewing the relationship between First Nations and the Crown, but it is only a first step. We made it clear that First Nation solutions are needed to achieve meaningful change based on our rights and responsibilities. Canada recognized that building stronger First Nations and a stronger Canada requires us to reinvigorate the original relationships that were based on mutual recognition, sharing and trust. We also have a commitment to act on key priorities guided by recognition and implementation of First Nations rights.
The role of the Assembly of First Nations will be to continue to facilitate this dialogue and to help create the space and momentum so that every First Nation can decide on appropriate and effective next steps. There are specific areas of immediate follow-up that can be coordinated at the national level as set out below. In addition, there is much related work and effort that can play an important role.
But most importantly, it is the work happening by First Nations, Treaty groups and regions that is central and required to drive the change needed. First Nations have the solutions and we must be dedicated to driving every next step in this work. We will work to confirm options for a National Forum or series of Forums, in the coming weeks to pull together all aspects of follow-up.
Our role at the national level is to facilitate and support this change. There are no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approaches. There are broad areas of effort immediately required and we can support coordinated approaches while looking to regions to set out their plans and priorities for next steps. We also acknowledge that the rate and pace of change and approach will be unique in different regions. We can facilitate an overall approach that maximizes this opportunity while respecting the autonomy and diversity of our Nations. This is both an opportunity and a requirement to ensure we achieve change now.
Attached is a briefing outlining the next steps which are about to take place.
This Gathering will take place with representatives of the Crown – the Prime Minister and members of the Cabinet – and First Nations. The Crown–First Nation Gathering is aimed at re-setting the relationship between First Nations and the federal government. It is the first meeting for Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the collective First Nation leadership. The gathering builds directly on the historic statement of apology, the endorsement of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as well as collaborative efforts like the Specific Claims Tribunal and the creation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The Crown-First Nation Gathering creates the potential to take the next step forward in our relationship and advance a forward-looking agenda.
This meeting has come directly from a call by First Nations leadership. At our 2010 Annual General Assembly, Chiefs expressed the need for a meeting with the Crown to discuss our issues. The Prime Minister committed to this gathering in a letter released in December 2010 during our Special Chiefs Assembly. In June 2011, the Canada-First Nations Joint Action brought forward First Nation mandated direction with commitment to address immediate priorities including education, treaty implementation, policy reform in key areas like comprehensive claims as well as specific measures to support First Nation governments and economies. The Action Plan also referenced work to advance and confirm a Crown-First Nations Gathering. The National Chief met with the Prime Minister on 1st December, 2011 and announced confirmation of the meeting for 24th of January 2012.
Part One: Ceremony reflecting and affirming the enduring relationship between First Nations and the Crown as well as confirming the heritage and future of Indigenous peoples’ as fundamental to Canadian reality, identity and culture.
Part Two: Addresses by First Nation and Crown leadership
Part Three: Concurrent sessions on agreed-upon topics to maximize opportunity for submission for the First Nation delegations to present its views and to dialogue with members of Cabinet, caucus and federal officials as designated. The themes for the sessions would include:
- Strengthening the Relationship and Enabling Opportunities (Treaties, rights, governance, jurisdiction, title, etc.)
- Unlocking the Potential of First Nation Economies (economic development, partnerships, land issues)
- Realizing the Promise of First Nations Peoples (education, health, safe and secure communities, etc.)
Part Four: Summary to conclude concurrent session and setting a forward looking agenda
How will it work?
It is clear that we will have much work to do. In the short term, we will confirm the locations and the web-site address within the coming days. As well, during the first week of January, we will confirm the video-conference sites once we have responses from all regional offices.
In addition, we would appreciate receiving the following from Chiefs across Canada on the following:
- Who would attend the Pre-Gathering planning session in Ottawa on January 23rd, 2012?
- Who would attend the Crown-First Nation Gathering on January 24th
- Who will attend the regional video conference sites?
- Are there written submissions that delegations would like to provide?
Finally, I would like to request that as we prepare ourselves for this event, we also take into consideration the need to prepare with ceremonies at home prior to 24th of January 2012. Through ceremony we will be able to seek guidance, strength and direction. This will be as important as any other preparations we make and encourage all of our spiritual leaders to help in our efforts.
We will be vigilant. We will be ready. We will look to take an important and significant step forward in our relationship and our agenda with the Crown.
A new update will come shortly in the New Year. Until then, I want to wish you a safe and happy holiday season!
National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo
Crown – First Nation Gathering:
January 24, 2012
111 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, ON
Registration 7:00 a.m. to 8 a.m. for confirmed delegations
Fairmont Chateau Laurier
1 Rideau Street, Ottawa, ON
The core principle of planning this event has been and continues to be that it is inclusive. The venue itself will dictate some limitations on the size of the delegation that can be in the room at any one time. Still, we are working hard to ensure that any Chief who wishes to engage will have a meaningful opportunity to do so. For example, we will maximize the size of the delegation that will be in the room and consider ways in which delegations can trade off during different segments. We will also provide a delegates room that is supplied with satellite feed of the entire proceedings.
We are also finalizing ten (10) unique regional video-conferencing locations for Chiefs participation. More details on the specific locations will be coming soon. We are also confirming a second Ottawa location equipped with space for delegates as well as officials and others who would like to attend. Finally, all Nations are able to provide a written submission which will be featured on the web-site and as part of the record of the event.
All share an interest in maximizing this important opportunity. This naturally requires a level of organization to ensure key issues and interests are effectively addressed.
It will be important that each region coordinate their delegations to ensure that they are represented in a manner which is meaningful to them, and to help determine what priorities they would like address throughout the meeting. The more pre-meeting work we conduct, the more effective the outcome of the day itself will be.
As already indicated, the Gathering will be linked by video conference for Chiefs across Canada to actively participate remotely. In addition, we are ensuring that interested parties across Canada can observe online through a webcast and we are working with various media broadcast companies – many of which are interested in covering the event for television.
To help ensure that we are fully coordinated a pre-session is being planned for 23rd of January 2012. This will provide us all with an opportunity to receive the latest information on the Gathering, confirm our delegations, conduct our own ceremonies and be fully prepared for the Gathering itself. Once again, more information will be coming on this shortly. This day will also include an opportunity for regional or other caucus as requested.