Ottawa. Thursday September 4, 2014: Well-known figures from a cross section of political, cultural and economic backgrounds have joined forces in a common cause to strengthen Canada through the creation of a new partnership between the Indigenous Peoples and all Canadians.
Canadians for a New Partnership (CFNP) was formally launched on September 4, 2014 at a Declaration-signing ceremony, news conference and luncheon, attended by two former Prime Ministers, Indigenous leaders, a former Supreme Court Justice and former Auditor General, among others. It is built on the principle that Indigenous and other Canadians can together build a strong economy and values-based society that will benefit present and future generations.
“CFNP’s overriding mission is to encourage public and political goodwill, energy and commitment to achieving this goal,” said CEO, former NWT premier Stephen Kakfwi. “I know all of us are excited and determined to make a renewed and positive contribution to Aboriginal Peoples and Canada.”
Two former prime ministers – the Right Hon. Joe Clark and the Right. Hon. Paul Martin – are among those volunteering their time and experience to the cause and a shared belief that a new partnership is possible.
“The unity of purpose among our members and growing numbers of Canadians from all walks of life, including churches, businesses, academia and the public service, tells me we can succeed, if we base our approach on mutual respect and responsibility, mutual recognition of our shared history and a genuine commitment to cooperation,” said Mr. Clark.
Mr. Martin said: “Too often we have made the wrong choices or failed to deliver on the right ones. But we also know that – notwithstanding this – there is common ground between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. We hold the same hopes and dreams for our children and grandchildren. I know because I see it every day in the classroom. If the seeds of agreement in this common ground are ever going to take root and grow, we will have to restore trust and build a foundation of goodwill between all Indigenous people and Canadians.”
Inuit leader Mary Simon, past president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, said: “When the first settlers came to our land, we welcomed them. Indigenous people shared with newcomers to help them survive. Trade relationships and alliances of friendship and peace flourished and solemn treaties were signed. These are the values – and the partnership – that we are trying to restore starting today. A partnership of equals, pledged to reconcile historic wrongs, committed to mutual respect and dedicated to the eradication of inequities.”
Former AFN National Chief Ovide Mercredi said: “There is much to be gained by repairing relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people – and much to be lost if we fail to reconcile our differences. The Constitution enshrines our rights and the courts have consistently upheld them. We are not going to go away and we are not going to fade into the fabric of non-Aboriginal society. We can either develop the vast potential of Canada together or we can continue the paralysis that flows from misunderstanding, betrayal and neglect. There is no question which path this Partnership chooses to travel. Our challenge to the rest of Canadians now is ‘come with us.’”
CFNP member Chelsea Vowel, a young Métis writer and teacher, said the group’s focus on youth and emerging leaders is one of its major strengths. “Creating a better future is not just about convincing the existing powers and voters to change; it is also about listening to those whose future you are discussing and ensuring they are involved in every facet of what is being done.”
CFNP is committed to helping to generate the conditions for change by: raising the profile of this critical issue through multiple media formats; offering Canadians a compelling rationale and opportunities for action that will ignite and sustain momentum towards reconciliation and partnership; and demonstrating to governments and industry the growing broad-based desire for such change.
Its members, who are all volunteers, will seek out others to add their signatures to theirs on a Declaration and attend speaking events, conferences and lecture series across Canada to promote our vision.
While it has largely been dependent on volunteer work, CFNP, a registered non-profit organization, will be seeking sponsors as it expands. It wishes to acknowledge the early and generous financial and in–kind contributions of The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, Government of the Northwest Territories, The Aboriginal Leadership Initiative of the International Boreal Conservation Campaign, NationTalk, The Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation, First Peoples Group, McGill University and T.E. Wealth. Without their help the success of this initiative to date would not have been possible.
For more information on CFNP, including a live webcast, visit www.cfnp.ca