Today, January 11, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is set to host a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other members of his cabinet in hopes to help right the recent wrongs the aboriginals of Canada feel have come through recent legislation being passed. The meeting however hangs in the air as Governor General David Johnston has said he will meet after the Harper meeting, a move that is not what Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence requested. Spence who has been fasting since December 11, has refused to attend the meeting unless Johnston was present to represent the Crown.
Leading up to the proposed meeting, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) released a statement in full support of AFN in its request for improved nation-to-nation government consultations:
“NCAI supports AFN and the rights of Canada’s First Nations to nation-to-nation consultation and calls on the Canadian Government to uphold the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, of which Canada and the United States have both adopted. As stated in the Declaration, and has been proven time and time again, consultations between Indigenous Peoples including tribal nations and the governments of North America, are essential to crafting a vision for a shared future,” said Jefferson Keel, President of NCAI, the United States’ oldest, largest, and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native advocacy organization.
“We stand united as the tribal nations of North America, as a family of first peoples and first governments of this land, and we stand united to protect our rights. There may be a border separating Canada and the United States, however as first Nations of North America we are not separate, and we will not be divided. And nor should we be divided in our nation-to-nation relationships,” continued Keel.
“Tribal nations of the United States have recently engaged in extensive and improved nation-to-nation consultations as a result of the Obama Administration’s commitment to upholding the U.S. President’s Executive Order on Consultation. These consultations have resulted in strong tribal nations, and a stronger America. We look forward to hearing from AFN the results of [today]’s discussions with Prime Minister Steven Harper and the Canadian Government. We stand ready to support AFN and the First Nations of Canada as they take important action to protect the rights, lands, and resources of First Nations and people,” Keel concluded.