Assembly of First Nations National Chief Welcomes Prime Minister’s positive response to
First Nations Call for Crown-First Nations Gathering

(Ottawa, 1st of December 2011) – Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo said today he is encouraged by the Prime Minister’s commitment to a Crown-First Nations Gathering now scheduled for 24th January 2012. The Gathering will be aimed at strengthening the Crown-First Nations relationship and unlocking the full potential of First Nations driven change for progress recognizing and respecting mutual responsibilities and accountability.

“It is more and more evident to everyone that we need action to deal with the long-standing problems facing First Nations and Canada,” the National Chief said. “We have communities in crisis that need action now, but we must stop lurching from crisis to crisis. This requires action and commitment to address systemic problems, and it requires that we work together. It is time to reset the relationship to the one formed at the time of Treaty – based on partnership and respect.”

First Nations called for this in July 2010 and the Prime Minister agreed to work with the Assembly of First Nations towards this in December 2010. The date has now been set for 24th January 2012. The Crown-First Nations Gathering will have a focused agenda specific to First Nations peoples and governments.

In reference to the Crown-First Nations Gathering, the National Chief stated that it is time to move forward, as called for in the United Nations (UN) Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, in the spirit of partnership and mutual respect as opposed to the imposition of unilateral decisions. The UN Declaration states: “… indigenous peoples have suffered from historic injustices as a result of their colonization and dispossession of their lands, territories and resources, thus preventing them from exercising their right to development in accordance with their own needs and interests.”

“First Nations are diverse and face many challenges, but by focusing on key critical issues we can set out a long-term strategic plan for progress and prosperity,” National Chief Atleo stated. “We must strengthen our relationship and give life to our Treaties as the foundation to build strong First Nation economies, boost First Nation education and foster healthy citizens and safe communities. This will unlock the tremendous potential of our people and create a stronger country for all of us.”

The announcement comes as First Nations from across the country are preparing to convene for the AFN Special Chiefs Assembly next week in Ottawa. National Chief Atleo said a special session on the Crown-First Nations Gathering will be added to the agenda to share information.

First Nations have already put forward detailed, workable plans in key, critical areas like education, building economies, implementing the Treaties, improving housing and infrastructure, strengthening First Nation governments and other key priorities.

The National Chief said that the Crown-First Nations Gathering has the potential to be a significant and defining event: “This is an opportunity to re-set the relationship, to begin the work of smashing the status quo and breaking the shackles that are holding us back. The key is a real commitment to working together. We began our history as partners. We can move forward as partners.”

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN and National Chief Atleo on Twitter @AFN_Updates, @AFN_Comms and @NCAtleo.

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Contact information:

Jenna Young, AFN Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 401 or cell: 613-314-8157 or jyoung@afn.ca

Alain Garon, AFN Bilingual Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 382 or cell: 613-292- 0857 or agaron@afn.ca