I am writing in response to the story “Bellegarde under fire, Bennett dismissed by chiefs over framework legislation”.
The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is guided by the resolutions that are passed by Chiefs and their representatives at our national Assemblies. As National Chief, I follow the direction provided through resolutions including those on the proposed federal “Rights Recognition Framework.” The resolution passed at our recent December Assembly builds on previous resolutions and is clear—First Nations reject the Framework, and First Nations will determine their own paths to nation-building.
The AFN has worked to ensure First Nations priorities are Canada’s priorities. One indication that we are having a positive impact is the unprecedented participation of many federal Cabinet ministers, the Prime Minister and federal party leaders at our Assemblies. We are seeing more engagement than ever before. We will, however, continue to push for more involvement.
The AFN is now insisting that any federal representatives who appear at our Assemblies take questions from Chiefs. We understand that everyone’s time is limited, and that the main plenary room is not always the ideal venue for First Nation representatives to build a relationship with the Ministers whose decisions can affect their citizens. Many Chiefs and many regions arrange for meetings with Ministers and others where they can discuss their specific priorities, set up community visits and put their peoples’ concerns front and centre. The AFN supports this and, when asked, will help facilitate this engagement.
The AFN continues to be a strong advocate in support of the rights and title holders: First Nations.
Assembly of First Nations