AFN National Chief Responds to Apology by Pope Francis for the Catholic Church’s Role in Colonialism
July 10, 2015
(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde commented today on Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s letter instructing her cabinet to conduct a review of all provincial policies, programs and legislation with regard to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to implement the Declaration in partnership with Indigenous peoples.
“This is an historic and monumental step forward to take concrete and comprehensive action to respect and realize the fundamental human rights of Indigenous peoples,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “Premier Notley’s decision makes the Government of Alberta a human rights leader in Canada. Premier Notley emphasized that her government will work with Indigenous peoples as true partners to ensure their constitutional rights are protected. She highlighted that Indigenous peoples must benefit both from the development of natural resources in the province and conservation of the environment. She stressed that the air, land, and water that we all rely on must be protected.”
On July 7, Alberta Premier Notley sent a letter to all her Cabinet Ministers instructing them to conduct a review, including budget implications, of all programs, policies and legislation that may require change based on the UN Declaration. National Chief Bellegarde read from the Premier’s letter to the delegates and Chiefs-in-Assembly in Haudenosaunee territory yesterday at the close of the AFN Annual General Assembly.
“Premier Notley, her colleagues and the people of Alberta have heard the call for change and for reconciliation,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “Taking action to meet the standards set out in the Declaration is essential for every government in Canada in order to close the gap in the quality of life between First Nations and Canadians. At next week’s Council of the Federation meeting in Newfoundland I will urge all Premiers to follow Premier Notley’s lead to implement the UN Declaration. On behalf of all First Nations, I call on the federal government to commit to the implementation of the Declaration and to undertake a similar review of federal laws, policies and programs in collaboration with Indigenous peoples.”
The UN Declaration sets out minimum human rights standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of Indigenous peoples (as stated in Article 43).
“I commend and congratulate Premier Notley for her leadership and support of Indigenous peoples human rights and her government’s commitment to renewing and improving its relationship with Indigenous peoples,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “I fully agree with Premier Notley that at its heart the UN Declaration encourages all of us to celebrate and preserve Indigenous cultures. Premier Notley truly made the last day of our Annual General Assembly a memorable and historic day.”
The UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples can be found here:
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates #AFNAGA.
Alain Garon AFN Bilingual Communications Officer at 613-292-0857 or [email protected]
Jenna Young Castro AFN Communications Officer at 613-314-8157 or [email protected]