AFN Chiefs makes statement on Orange Shirt Day; encourages “Aboriginal” voters to vote for change

OTTAWA – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde is challenging First Nations, every Canadian, and federal party leaders to demonstrate through concrete action that every child in this country matters.

Bellegarde said in a media release, “Each and every one of us must commit ourselves to reconciliation and ensure there is no further harm done to First Nations children and families.  We must commit to First Nations control of First Nations education so that our children get the best education possible and that it values their languages and identities.  With commitment and action, together we can and will close the gap by creating a new environment that strengthens First Nations families and communities and ensures that every child thrives. Every single child must know that his/her voice, dreams, and success matters.”

Bellegarde made his declaration while promoting Orange Shirt Day on September 30th in recognition of the harm caused by Indian residential schools.

Although he did not formally back any of the Parties vying for the Prime Minister’s desk, he wasn’t coy about where his vote was not going.

“Every person in this country has the opportunity to drive change on October 19,” he said.  “The human and economic costs of maintaining the status quo are as astounding as they are unnecessary.  We must commit to do better as a country.  First Nations priorities must become Canada’s priorities because when we succeed, all of Canada succeeds.”

Even though those within the Onkwehonwe community traditionally do not vote in Canadian elections, Bellegarde and other Native leaders are trying to encourage First Nations who can vote to do so and remove the Harper Conservatives from office.

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