OTTAWA – “We’ve heard clearly from delegates from many territories that any proposed decision, policy or legislation impacting First Nations’ rights, title and jurisdiction must respect the right to self-determination,” says Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “First Nations must work together in accordance with our protocols and responsibilities to get it right, and getting it right, means our work cannot be rushed. Many First Nations are telling Canada to stop and work together in ways that truly affirms and implements rights, title, and jurisdiction, and to commit to a First Nations driven process guided by First Nations’ laws and customs.”
Following a successful two-day national policy forum, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde stated that AFN will press for a reset of a process launched by the Government of Canada on First Nations’ rights. Delegates at the national policy forum and an AFN resolution from July 2018 insist that the process and solutions lie in a First Nations-led process.
Presentations included an overview of rights recognition and affirmation to date, initiatives, resolutions and current perspectives of First Nations citizens and leaders.
“We all want to move beyond the Indian Act’s control and reconstitute ourselves as Indigenous peoples and Nations with fundamental inherent rights,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “We are self-determining nations with jurisdiction to take control of where we are and where we need to go as people and as nations. Out of respect for treaties and the vision of our ancestors, we are willing to work in partnership, but First Nations will not accept a prescriptive and rushed process that doesn’t respect self-determination or the duty to consult. The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples provides a roadmap to reconciliation. Our leaders have put their hearts and minds together to listen and learn and to dialogue, and I look forward to further discussion and deliberation at our Chiefs Assembly in December.”
Dialogue from the forum will result in a comprehensive report and will help inform deliberations and decision-making by Chiefs at the AFN Special Chiefs Assembly December 4-6 in Algonquin territory at the Westin Hotel in Ottawa.
Current AFN Resolutions 08/2018 Implementing Canada’s Recognition and Implementation of Indigenous Rights Framework and clarifying the role of AFN and 39/2018 First Nations Determination to the Path to Decolonization confirm support for First Nations rights holders to lead the process and direct AFN to call on the Government of Canada to work with First Nations before adopting and implementing any legislative or administrative measures that affect them.