THUNDER BAY – Prime Minister announces meeting with First Nations leaders. Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement on a planned meeting with a delegation of First Nations leaders coordinated by the Assembly of First Nations:
“On January 24, 2012, I was pleased to participate in the historic Crown-First Nations Gathering. On that day, the Government of Canada and First Nations committed to making progress in the following areas:
- Improving relationships and strong partnerships between Canada and First Nations respectful of Aboriginal and Treaty rights as recognized and affirmed in the Constitution Act, 1982;
- Building effective, appropriate, transparent and fully accountable governance structures;
- Empowering success of individuals through access to education and opportunity;
- Enabling strong, sustainable, and self-sufficient communities;
- Creating conditions to accelerate economic development opportunities and maximize benefits for all Canadians;
- Respecting the role of First Nations’ culture and language in our history and future.
“The Government and First Nations committed at the Gathering to maintaining the relationship through an ongoing dialogue that outlines clear goals and measures of progress and success. While some progress has been made, there is more that must be done to improve outcomes for First Nations communities across Canada,” continued the Prime Minister.
“It is in this spirit of ongoing dialogue that, together with Minister Duncan, I will be participating in a working meeting with a delegation of First Nations leaders coordinated by the Assembly of First Nations on January 11, 2013. This working meeting will focus on two areas flowing from the Gathering: the treaty relationship and aboriginal rights, and economic development”, added the Prime Minister.
Charlie Angus the, Timmins James Bay Member of Parliament stated in a press conference in Ottawa that they see this a a “good sign”, and the awareness of “how we got to this point, where four people are on hunger strikes, where a sense of frustration like we have never seen before”. Angus added “Our concern is for the health of the hunger strikers”. Chief Theresa Spence and the other hunger strikers are weakening Angus commented.
“This is a situation where it is untenable,” stated Angus. “We are concerned for Chief Spence’s health,” added Angus.
Assembly of First Nations National Chief Atleo stated yesterday, “First Nations across this country have been voicing concern and frustration with a broken system that does not address long-standing disparities between First Nations and the rest of Canada, and address priorities in ways that will provide for long-term solutions and sustainability,” said National Chief Atleo, further acknowledging the actions of First Nation citizens, leaders and supporters, including Elder Raymond Robinson from Cross Lake Manitoba and Chief Theresa Spence of Attawapiskat who have been without food since December 11, 2012, calling attention to the urgent need for the Crown to respect and honour its duty to work with First Nations to implement Treaties.
“There is no excuse for inaction either by First Nation leadership or by Canada,” said National Chief Atleo. “First Nations are ready to do the hard work to address our many challenges and achieve a better future for our children. We must see concrete commitment and action. It’s time for the Crown to honour its relationship and responsibilities to First Nations starting with the recognition and affirmation of our inherent and Treaty rights. It’s time for all First Nations citizens and their leaders to drive solutions.”
“The Government of Canada and First Nations have an enduring historic relationship based on mutual respect, friendship and support. The Government of Canada is committed to strengthening this relationship.”