OTTAWA – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo will attend memorial services in Johannesburg, South Africa on Monday December 9 and Tuesday December 10. The National Chief will travel as part of the official delegation from Canada.
“The life, work and spirit of Nelson Mandela – or Madiba, as he was called by his people – was deeply connected to First Nations in Canada not only as a fellow Indigenous leader but also because of his incredible struggle for justice and reconciliation that resonates so deeply with the struggle and aspirations of our peoples,” said National Chief Atleo. “Our traditions call upon us to always be mindful of the importance of such commemoration, celebration and respect to be shown to the family and to the people united in marking this loss. I will travel to South Africa as a humble representative of our Indigenous traditions to pay our respects and to stand in honour of this great leader and inspiration for Indigenous peoples and for the world.”
The National Chief is traveling to the memorial with the full support of the AFN Executive and the Elders, Women’s and Youth Councils. The AFN Executive and First Nations from across the country will be gathering in Gatineau, Quebec for the AFN Special Chiefs Assembly taking place December 10-12. The National Chief will provide an Opening Address to the Assembly through video message and is expected to return to the Assembly on December 12.
“First Nations in Canada have honoured Madiba many times during his life as an example and inspiration for our work in our traditional territories,” said National Chief Atleo. “Our work and our fight continues. In Mandela we see that the spirit of our peoples can never be broken and that the drive for change can be achieved by believing in our people and our rights and remaining steadfast in our resolve for reconciliation and justice. I have been to South Africa, I have seen his jail cell on Robin Island and I will be meeting with officials from the African National Congress during this trip to talk about our common issues and the way forward. I will convey greetings, condolences and solidarity on behalf of all First Nations.”