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The time for a strong National First Nation’s Voice in Canada is now

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It has been asked whether the time has come to establish a strong national voice for First Nations. Many believe that this is especially important now as First Nations are taking a larger role in resource development, the environment, on-going and future growth opportunities in Canada’s north and our people’s increasing participation in every aspect of our national life.

As well, in the wake of the apology and the Truth and Reconciliation Call to Action, we now have a real opportunity to address the long-standing problems that have plagued our communities for decades. The need for a strong national voice is arguably more important now than it has ever been.

Reflecting on experiences with the Assembly over the years, there have been some successes but all too often the same set of issues return from one assembly to the next, time and time again with no real change being affected. As well, it seems that AFN is far too easily ‘side stepped’ by government using the presumption that the AFN does not actually represent Indigenous people across the land, rather only the political ‘elites’. It seems that the AFN has become some kind of lobbying group that can either be used or ignored but not seen as a true partner in the development of public policy, solutions or opportunities.  We need to establish a true, powerful and authentic First Nations voice.

To accomplish this we need to support grassroots involvement in the election of the Assembly of First Nations’ National Chief. To elect a National Chief by First Nations people across the land would finally give us the opportunity to establish a clear mandate and the genuine power, influence and authority to affect change. We would no longer be lobbyists but real participants in the process of making positive change.

At times like this we hear that some Chiefs are concerned that this might erode their power to govern and manage their own communities. This would not be the case. In the rest of Canada we manage to elect Members of Parliament, Members of Legislative Assemblies, Prime Ministers and Premiers (albeit indirectly through our elected representatives) and Mayors and Councils. From time-to-time when there are opportunities to collaborate, each level of government works with the other and there is no erosion of power. Certainly the same can hold true for the Chiefs across the land, the various provincially based First Nation organizations and the national Assembly of First Nations.

The first step is to set our aim to engage the ‘grassroots’ electorate, determine the scope and mandate of the national AFN and conduct an election where we can put into place a truly unified and powerful voice ready to fully engage governments in development opportunities and implementing solutions.

Many feel that this unified authentic voice will assist the federal and provincial governments to focus on the issues at hand and to collaboratively and actively work with First Nations. In this way I believe we will have a considerably better platform for actively and positively moving forward on First Nations’ priorities.

To support this initiative and build a truly unified and powerful national voice for First Nations, you are invited to sign a petition at the link below. Your voice is important and your support is appreciated. Please share the following link with your friends.

Click the ‘sign’ button if you agree that:

- all First Nations’ members across Canada should participate as voters in the election of the Assembly of First Nations National Chief; and

- this petition with a motion to support and take action to include all First Nations’ Membership as voters for the Assembly of First Nations National Chief be presented at the next Assembly of First Nations Assembly in December 2017.

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