“First Nations are pursuing economic development opportunities at home and abroad”


Shawn Atleo
AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo
OTTAWA – “First Nations are pursuing economic development opportunities at home and abroad,” said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo speaking from Ottawa. “Our trade mission to China has proven to be an effective way to strengthen our relationship with one of the world’s economic leaders. In our many meetings, we received a clear signal from government officials and the private sector of their willingness to work with First Nations in ways that are respectful, responsible and sustainable- an approach that is key to successful partnerships.”

Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo stated “That the AFN trade mission to China has been an excellent opportunity to strengthen relationships and explore partnership opportunities with the Chinese government and industry.

The week-long AFN China Trade Mission to Beijing, Dalian, Chengu, Beichuan and Shanghai continued relationship building efforts and helped spark new business opportunities. This included the grand opening of the First Nation Grain Management Office in Dalian, a First Nation-led company taking a strong lead by utilizing our unique knowledge of the land to balance development needs and environmental stewardship. First Nation community leaders also had a key meeting with the Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association”.

It is a match likely destined to bring opportunities to First Nations, China and other Asia countries are looking for resources, and many of Canada’s First Nations have within lands under their direction, the opportunity to provide access to those resources.

The delegation, which included National Chief Atleo and First Nation leaders from across Canada, met with governmental and private sector organizations including:

China People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries
Zhongchuan Mining Group
Officials from the Chinese Government
Chinese National Committee for Pacific Economic Cooperation
Chinese Department of Commerce
Beidahuang Group (an agricultural, seafood, and forestry company)
Sichuan Metallurgical and Geological Bureau
Dalian International Economic and Technical Cooperation Group Ltd.
Dalian Shi Yu Garments Co. Ltd.
Beichuan Qiang Chief and Officials
Xian Road Construction Machinery Co.

“There is a great deal of trade potential between First Nations and China,” said AFN Yukon Regional Chief Eric Morris, who holds the national portfolio for economic development and partnerships. “First Nations can play a constructive role in helping China meet its vast food and energy needs and providing finished products made in our communities, all ways that are respectful of our rights, our lands and our peoples. There is a definite opportunity and interest in continuing our work together. We look forward to reporting back to Chiefs and First Nation citizens on this mission and identifying other potential partners for economic development.”

The AFN China Trade mission also allowed groups to share in ceremony, traditions and cultures.

“I would like to thank the people of China for the warm welcome to our delegation. While our cultures and histories differ, we shared in ceremonies with the Chinese that will connect us now into the future,” said National Chief Atleo. “The totem pole raising ceremony, in the city of Beichuan, will live with us as an example of spirit and courage – something we have both learned is essential in achieving a common goal or vision, and the need for community and unity to support one another particularly in the face of immense challenge or tragedy.”

In December 2011, the Chinese Ambassador attended the AFN Special Chiefs Assembly in Gatineau, Quebec. A Chinese delegation took part in the AFN’s International Indigenous Summit on Energy and Mining, along with more than 800 delegates, in Niagara Falls in June 2011. There will be continued work with the Embassy of the Peoples Republic of China and the Canadian Embassy on a potential AFN-China joint symposium on trade, as well as ongoing work to identify and build partnerships.

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