AFN Urges Governments to Work with Manitoba First Nations to Address Flood Impacts

OTTAWA — AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde stated he stands in solidarity with Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and urges federal and provincial governments to work together with First Nations to address the devastating impacts of flooding.

“I fully support the position of First Nations in Manitoba as they assert their rights to be directly involved in designing and implementing a long-term solution to flooding in their region,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “First Nations families in Manitoba have been displaced for more than four years as a result of the 2011 flood evacuations. We need immediate action to help the evacuees and victims. It is unacceptable that agreements and plans are being made by governments without First Nations decision-making.”

More than 2,000 people are reported to be displaced by the 2011 Spring flood in northern Manitoba. Community members and leaders gathered at the Manitoba Legislature yesterday voicing their opposition to a $495 million water diversion plan announced by the federal government days before the election was called.

“First Nations in Manitoba have been working to rebuild their communities and mitigate future flooding,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “These efforts must be respected and supported and First Nations must be involved in any decisions that impact their families, homes and territories. It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s a Crown obligation.”


Liberal Announcement on First Nations Education a Positive Start

OTTAWA — AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde said the recent announcement by Justin Trudeau, Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, on First Nations education sets out a substantive plan for action.

National Chief Bellegarde stated: “New and significant investments in education are essential to closing the gap in the quality of life between First Nations and other Canadians. This plan would have an immediate impact and help close that gap by investing in our students and our schools.  This is a positive start towards supporting First Nations control of First Nations education. We look forward to more dialogue about our priorities. All the parties need to step up and make clear commitments to First Nations.”

Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau announced in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan that a Liberal government will commit to new investments in elementary and secondary education and new school construction as well as lifting the 2% cap on essential government services for First Nations. Mr. Trudeau also announced commitments to curriculum development on Aboriginal and Treaty rights, Indian Residential Schools and the contributions of Indigenous Peoples to Canada and new investments to promote, preserve and advance First Nations languages and culture.  The Liberal leader also said his party will never act unilaterally and instead will engage in a renewed, respectful, and inclusive nation-to-nation process. The new investments identified total more than $3.2 billion over 4 years. The Liberal leader also said his party will engage in First Nations-led initiatives on jurisdiction over education.

The National Chief noted the Liberal leader’s commitment to “re-engage in a renewed, respectful, and inclusive nation-to-nation Kelowna process to advance progress on the issues First Nations have prioritized”, including housing, infrastructure, health, child welfare and community safety and policing.

“The commitment to working with First Nations as partners on a Nation-to-Nation basis is an essential element of the new relationship that Canada and First Nations must put in place. Similar commitments from all federal parties are imperative to closing the gap,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “That’s the approach we need to work with Canada on a comprehensive plan for closing the gap and building a stronger Canada for all of us.”

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