(Enoch Cree Nation, AB) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde said the New Democratic Party’s Indigenous platform, “Our Commitment to Indigenous Communities”, released this month by leader Thomas Mulcair at the AFN’s Open Forum on First Nations and the 2015 Federal Election addresses a number of First Nation priorities set out in the AFN’sClosing the Gap: 2015 Federal Election Priorities for First Nations and Canada.
“The NDP platform is a comprehensive response to our Closing the Gap agenda,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. “It addresses many of our key priorities and commits to high level engagement to work together to close the gap. There are high human and economic costs to all of us in maintaining the gap. The nation-to-nation approach is the way forward and it must be put into action. I thank the NDP leader for participating in our Open Forum and engaging directly with First Nations.”
The NDP Indigenous platform outlines commitments related to First Nations, including a commitment to establish an ongoing Nation-to-Nation relationship through a cabinet-level committee, taking action on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and calling a National Inquiry on missing and murdered Indigenous women within the first 100 days of a new government. Other highlights include closing the education gap by investing $4.8 billion over eight years in First Nations education; strengthening First Nations communities by revitalizing First Nations languages with a new investment of $68 million over four years; implementing Jordan’s Principle; improving critical infrastructure in First Nations communities including housing, schools, and clean water and sanitation facilities with $375 million of new investment over four years and $2.7 billion over four years in affordable housing. The plan commits to working with First Nations to develop a plan to close the gap in health outcomes, and ensure quality and accessible health services for all First Nations communities.
“We hold up all federal parties and party leaders that truly listen to First Nations and reflect our concerns,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. “We put out our Closing the Gap document so that our priorities were clear and to press the parties to respond. First Nations priorities are Canada’s priorities and I am pleased that yet another party is responding to our agenda.”
The National Chief stated that the AFN will be releasing a summary of all platforms and commitments to First Nations in advance of the Election on October 19, 2015. For more information on First Nation priorities for the upcoming federal election and on Closing the Gap in quality of life between First Nations people and Canadians please visit:http://www.afn.ca/uploads/files/closing-the-gap.pdf