(Ottawa, ON): On Sept. 2, 2015, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde presented priorities for the upcoming federal election that will close the gap in quality of life between First Nations people and Canadians.
“First Nations priorities are Canada’s priorities and must be part of the federal election campaign,” said National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “We can close the gap and today we’re putting forward specific commitments we want to see from all federal parties. This is about changing the relationship between First Nations and Canada to one of full collaboration. This is about investing in a better life for First Nations, our families and our children. This is about building a stronger country for all of us. When the gap closes, Canada wins.”
Today the AFN released Closing the Gap: 2015 Federal Election Priorities for First Nations and Canada. The document sets out action items and a vision for change through themes of Strengthening First Nations, Families and Communities; Sharing and Equitable Funding; Upholding Rights; Respecting the Environment; Revitalizing Indigenous Languages; and Truth and Reconciliation. National Chief Perry Bellegarde is seeking specific responses to the plan from all federal parties.
“Our plan is practical, implementable and will set Canada on a course of reconciliation, progress and prosperity,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “Our plan points the way to real change. This is a pivotal time as Canadians are poised for an era of reconciliation. We can work together with the next federal government to close the gap through dedicated, strategic investments and action. We are seeking partners to build stronger First Nations and a stronger Canada.”
The gap in the quality of life between First Nations people and Canadians is evident in statistics showing that half of First Nations children live in poverty, life expectancy for First Nations citizens is five to seven years less than other Canadians, more than 40,000 Aboriginal children and youth are in foster care, 132 First Nation communities under boil water advisories and the more than 1200 cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Closing the gap would create a more fair and just Canada and would add billions to the country’s economy.
The AFN continues to stand up for First Nations collective rights and ensure all federal parties understand that First Nations priorities are Canada’s priorities and must be addressed.
Closing the Gap: 2015 Federal Election Priorities for First Nations and Canada is available on the AFN website at:http://www.afn.ca/uploads/files/closing-the-gap.pdf