Atleo, PM meet briefly to discuss education, treaties

Prime Minister Stephen Harper met briefly with Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo on the eve of Aboriginal Day last week.

APTN National News
OTTAWA--Prime Minister Stephen Harper met briefly with Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo on the eve of Aboriginal Day last week.

The two met last Thursday in the prime minister’s office inside the Langevin block for about 15 minutes, according to the AFN.

Langevin was where Harper met with select First Nations leaders on Jan. 11 while Idle No More protestors drummed, sang and chanted on the streets.

This latest encounter comes as the first rumblings of planned actions under the banner of “sovereignty summer” begin to reverberate across the country. Idle No More has joined forces with Defenders of the Land for planned protests throughout the summer.

Mi’kmaq-led anti-fracking protests have already gripped northern New Brunswick and grassroots activists from Six Nations led the occupation of an Enbridge terminal near Hamilton as the opening salvo in cross-country actions against the energy firm’s planned Line 9 pipeline reversal to move tar sands oil east.

More protests are expected.

It’s unclear whether Harper and Atleo discussed the growing unrest that again threatens to grip the nation.

According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Harper met with Atleo “to discuss the progress” since January. The PMO said the discussion centred on education, treaties and comprehensive claims.

The Aboriginal Affairs department is preparing a new First Nations Education Act, but the proposed legislation is being met with opposition from many in the First Nations leadership.

“The prime minister said that he also looks forward to continuing to work with the national chief on the First Nations Education Act, which will lead to improved graduation rates for First Nation students on reserve and open the door to more jobs and economic opportunities,” said the PMO in a statement.

“While this progress is important and will have a positive impact on First Nations, we need to build on it and sustain the momentum that is being created. We will continue to work with First Nations to make concrete progress on our shared priorities.”

The PMO said the two men also discussed comprehensive claims, also known as modern-day treaties.

Following the January meeting, Ottawa and the AFN agreed to strike a committee of senior bureaucrats and First Nations leaders to discuss ways to make the often controversial and cumbersome process work.

“The prime minister was pleased to note that concrete progress is being made by the senior oversight committee on comprehensive claims,” said Atleo in an open letter to chiefs and band councillors that touched on the meeting.

A second committee on treaties was also created as a result of the winter meeting. Atleo delivered a letter to Harper from Saskatchewan regional Chief Perry Bellegarde seeking clarity and solid timelines on the issue.

“We specifically took forward direction to clarify the commitment and mandate and advance treaty implementation processes on a treaty-by-treaty basis led by each treaty area,” wrote Atleo in his open letter.

The PMO said Harper also wants the treaty committee to come up with “clear objectives” that would lead to “tangible, practical measures” and “strengthen the treaty relationship and enhance treaty implementation.”

The British Crown and the Canadian government signed treaties with First Nations across the country to allow for the settlement of Indigenous territories. Many First Nations still hold the treaties as the basis for their relationship with Ottawa and the Crown.

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Online Producer / Ottawa

Before moving to become the APTN News social media producer, Mark was the executive producer for the news in eastern Canada. Before starting with APTN in 2009, Mark worked at CBC Radio and Television in Newfoundland and Labrador and Ottawa.

1 thought on “Atleo, PM meet briefly to discuss education, treaties

  1. Well this sounds great on paper but the fact is there is no money in the budget for our future generation of first nation students to even attend college or university, yet we have placements for first nations students to attend …….once again the government/leadership of first nation tell our students ”education is the key to be leaders of our people and carry on our next generation ,but NO MONEY IN THE BUDGET except those who are returning to school, which is dandy but what about new students or students who want to further their education…….grades and honor students are out of luck due to poor money management and lack of funding……I think all first nation tribes should pay for their own members to attend school ……..and spend less money on things that give our people the stereotypes such as smoke shops/casinos etc.

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