OTTAWA – “I believe that one way to build a smarter, more caring Canada is by understanding and respecting our past. The past reminds us that a better future is within our grasp, if only we can enable everyone to share in the promise of this country,” said the Governor General. “My hope is that this gathering will serve as the foundation for a renewed and strengthened relationship between the Crown and First Nations, and that from this foundation, we can work together to create a brighter future for our families, our communities and our country.”
Prime Minister Harper opened the Crown First Nations Gathering saying it is important and historic, as an time to take the vision and conception of AFN National Chief Atleo for bringing together the meeting.
As the Prime Minister spoke, he said that there have been both high and low points in the relationship between Canada and First Nations. The audience of Chief did not applaud at what likely were applause points in the speech.
The Prime Minister stated that his government has been faithful to their promises, with the residential schools apology, land claim settlements, and extending the protection of the Canadian Human Rights Act to First Nations.
“We have been dealing with things that have been in the ‘talk shop’ for over twenty years,” stated Harper. “Many First Nations people will say it is about time”. “Promote and protect the rights of Indigenous people at home and abroad…as a down payment on what we wish to achieve,”
Harper also promised that solutions will come to protect safe water by new legislation.
“For our goal is self suffient and self governing communities,” said Harper. “We have no illusions about the challenges ahead of us. We have only just begun, it is time for First Nations to share in Canada”.
Harper outlined how there are many successful First Nations across Canada. He highlighted First Nations in British Columbia, Ontario, Alberta and Newfoundland.