(December 15, 2016) – On December 15, 2016 – the anniversary of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and federal cabinet ministers to establish an approach for First Nations and the federal government to work together to advance reconciliation and implement the TRC’s Calls to Action that fall under federal responsibility, including implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
“Reconciliation is key to building stronger First Nations and a stronger country for all Canadians,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. “Reconciliation requires that we work together as partners because that is the foundation of our nation-to-nation relationship. The era of colonialism is ending. We all are committing ourselves to the hard work of reconciliation in honour of the former students and for our future generations.”
Today, the Prime Minister announced a new, permanent process to work in partnership on shared priorities and monitor progress on those priorities. The National Chief has called for high level approaches to give life to the TRC Calls to Action, stating that a top priority is entrenching the UN Declaration as the framework and guide for reconciliation. Today’s announcement reflects that approach.
“This is essential work and it is important that First Nations drive this process across all our priorities,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “This approach needs to be based on recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership with the ultimate goal of closing the gap in the quality of life between First Nations and Canada.”
Today’s announcement by the Prime Minister’s Office also included reference to establishing an Interim Board of Directors to oversee the creation of a National Council for Reconciliation. National Chief Bellegarde and the AFN Executive will provide advice and recommendations on how this interim, formative step will reflect the broader goals of First Nations.