Assembly of First Nations unveils priorities ahead of federal election

National chief declines to endorse any party, says whoever is elected must recognize rights and make amends for the past

The Assembly of First Nations has released a document outlining key priorities for First Nations and the next federal government.

Coming into her first federal election as leader of the AFN, National Chief RoseAnne Archibald unveiled the organization’s election shopping list Tuesday, titled Healing Path Forward: 2021 Federal Priorities for Strengthening and Rebuilding First Nations.

She says the 15-page document reflects a shared vision of First Nations collective priorities.

“This healing path forward that I’m talking about is very much about ensuring that First Nations are really leading the way and telling the rest of Canada what that healing path forward looks like,” Archibald said.

“The healing path forward speaks to the need for a strategic direction toward evolutionary and positive change. There is a healing path forward and we can get there by working together.”

The plan has five main priorities ranging from truth, reconciliation and healing, to respecting First Nations jurisdiction.

“The revelation of unmarked gravesites, of our little ones across this country, has heightened the awareness of Canadians regarding the genocide that occurred and the healing that needs to be done. We will be calling for strong action on this issue as part of the healing path forward. We at the very outset require the establishment of a healing foundation for survivors and intergenerational survivors,” Archibald said.

“At the heart of every conflict involving First Nations is our land rights and title. Our water rights and our inherent and treaty rights. These rights must be respected, implemented and honoured by all levels of government. This is the legacy of colonialism and paternalism historically exercised by the government of Canada,” she said.

Watch Archibald’s interview with APTN National News:

In the document, the AFN calls on all political parties and candidates to endorse a National Indigenous Healing organization that continues the important work of the former Aboriginal Healing Foundation.

Archibald also has the struggles of First Nation children high on the list.

“All of these issues that we present, are actually still impacting our children today, so children in our community don’t have clean drinking water in many communities, children in our communities are living in overcrowded houses, 10 to 20 people per house. Children in our communities are attending schools that are not to the same standard and not funded to the same amount as the rest of Canada,” she said.

Another major priority outlined by the AFN is climate and conservation leadership with First Nations. The AFN wants to see political parties commit to reducing emissions by 60 per cent below 2010 levels by 2030 and reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

“As record heat waves and wildfires have devastated Canada, it is clear that there is no more pressing issues for all of humanity,” Archibald said.

Like all national chiefs, Archibald says she isn’t endorsing any particular party or candidate, but will work with whoever is elected.

“I will not endorse any candidates because I have to remain neutral; I have to work with whatever party is elected. So I’m not going to endorse any candidates myself,” she said.

Archibald is encouraging people to vote on Sept. 20 and looks forward to the parties’ response to the document

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