“First Nations recognize the growing importance of Asian markets…” – AFN National Chief


Shawn Atleo
AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo
OTTAWA – It is a trip designed to enhance business relations and boost business ties between China and Canada’s First Nations. From October 21st to 31st a trade delegation headed by Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, teaming up with a small group of First Nation leaders and First Nation business proponents, will be in China. “First Nations recognize the growing importance of Asian markets, and the opportunity to seek out a competitive advantage to expand economic opportunities for First Nations and all of Canada. First Nations have innovative plans for community-based sustainable economic development and we are reaching out to partners nationally and internationally for opportunities that work for our peoples and communities,” said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo.

National Chief Atleo and AFN Yukon Regional Chief Eric Morris will be joined by First Nation government and business leaders from several regions including BC, Alberta and Ontario. The Trade Mission to China will be the first of many potential visits to foreign countries in the hope of developing international interest to invest in trade and economic opportunities in First Nation communities. The AFN has been mandated by First Nation leadership across Canada to facilitate international relationships. The Ambassador of China to Canada addressed Chiefs during the Special Chiefs Assembly in 2010 and also during the International Indigenous Summit on Energy and Mining held in Niagara Falls June 2011 along with delegations from other countries.

“This official visit to China is a mission of encouraging exchange and trade opportunities,” AFN Yukon Regional Chief Eric Morris who also holds the national portfolio for Economic Partnerships. “First Nations are not opposed to development that is sustainable and environmentally responsible. In fact, we welcome the opportunity to work with governments and industry from the outset based on the principles of free, prior and informed consent as set out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

The AFN has worked closely with several First Nations on this initial trip and in particular, the BC First Nations Energy and Mining Council. The AFN and BC First Nations officials have worked with the Embassy for the Peoples Republic of China, and the Canadian Government and its consulate office in Beijing. The Friendship Association for Foreign Countries of China will be hosting the delegation during the Trade Mission.

Highlights of the Trade Mission to China:

• Sunday, October 23: Meeting with former Ambassador to Canada, Mei Ping, currently Chairman of the China National Committee of the Pacific Economic Cooperation.

• Monday, October 24: Exchange of information with the Ministry of Commerce and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

• Tuesday, October 25: Opening of First Nation Grain Management office in Dalian.

• Wednesday, October 26: Participation in a conference hosted by the Southwest University of Nationalities of Chengdu to exchange information on education and ethnicity in China, First Nations and Aboriginal people in Canada.

• Thursday, October 27: Totem Pole Raising Ceremony: Gift presented by Grand Chief John to the people of Beichuan, on behalf of First Nations across Canada, after their city was ravaged by a devastating earthquake in 2008. National Chief Atleo and delegates have been invited to attend and participate in this showcase of friendship to help the people of Beichuan on their road to recovery. The totem pole will be raised in a newly constructed museum in Beichuan.

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