AFN: Ottawa’s Commitment to First Nations is welcome, and it must lead to change

OTTAWA, Aug. 23, 2016 /CNW/ – As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated his commitment to Indigenous peoples yesterday during a post-Cabinet retreat press conference, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde welcomed the assurance and said it must be supported with immediate steps to create positive change.

“I lift up the Prime Minister for his ongoing commitment to First Nations,” said National Chief Bellegarde.  “Now we need to see that commitment turn into positive action for our people and communities.  The federal budget set out significant investments but they are not flowing fast enough.  Those resources need to get to our communities so families have better housing, clean drinking water and quality health care.  It’s been five months since the budget. Expectations are high, but we know they can be met if we move now.”

The AFN actively pushed for significant, strategic investments in advance of the 2016 federal budget, which promised $8.4 billion in support of clean water, suitable housing, badly needed infrastructure and quality education for First Nations and Indigenous peoples. While some targeted investments and projects have been made, many more First Nations communities are still struggling with poor infrastructure and services. In response to a question from media yesterday, the Prime Minister stated: “People know that renewing the relationship with Indigenous peoples, moving forward in a real and substantive way is something that’s important to our economy, to our present, to our future, and to our very identity as Canadians,” and that “…as important as words are, actions matter deeply.”

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