AFN National Chief Calls National Day of Action an Overwhelming Success and Show of Support for First Nations: “A hundred thousand strong, and a hundred points of hope”
OTTAWA, June 29 – Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine stated that today’s National Day of Action organized by the Assembly of First Nations was an overwhelming success. “First Nations and Canadians across the country organized and participated in more than one hundred events,” said National Chief Fontaine. “This is one of the largest rallies in Canadian history based on the sheer number of events and the number of locations. Today, the story is not about conflict or confrontation. It is about the overwhelming critical mass of support for justice and fairness for First Nations.”
The National Chief took part in the Ottawa event, which attracted approximately 3,000 supporters. The National Chief was joined by political leaders such as Liberal leader Stephan Dion and NDP leader Jack Layton, union leaders, church leaders, First Nations leaders and citizens and many non-Aboriginal Canadians. The Day of Action is also supported by all Premiers and Territorial leaders and many businesses including Canadian Pacific railways.
“I hope the federal government takes note of this massive show of support for our people and our cause,” said the National Chief. “This is a Day of Action and clearly Canadians want to see action. First Nations have a plan for progress and prosperity. All we need now is for the federal government to step up and demonstrate the will and the vision to work with us in partnership for a better, stronger Canada.”
In his address to the crowd, National Chief Fontaine called for immediate action to address the poor social conditions that afflict too many First Nations. The National Chief called on the federal government to honour its promises to First Nations; to implement the plan agreed to at the First Ministers Meeting on Aboriginal Issues in Kelowna, BC; to apologize to survivors of residential schools; and to work with First Nations to give life to their rights as recognized in Canada’s Constitution.
The National Chief noted that all AFN-organized events were peaceful and positive.
“I thank all our supporters for gathering in a spirit of cooperation, and I commend law enforcement officials for their commitment to a measured and non-confrontational approach,” said the National Chief.
The National Chief noted that the Day of Action is only the beginning of creating a new era of peace and prosperity for First Nations. The AFN’s Annual General Assembly takes place in Halifax, Nova Scotia July 10-12, during which there will be a discussion about the National Day of Action and next steps. As well, the National Chief has been invited to meet with all Premiers and Territorial leaders on August 8 in Moncton, New Brunswick.
“Today is only a beginning, but an excellent start to the work we must do as a nation,” said National Chief Fontaine. “If we were to look at Canada from above today, we would see more than a hundred rallies and marches across the land, and thousands and thousands of people showing their support for a better quality of life for First Nations. Each event and each individual represents a point of hope – hope for a better future for First Nations, and hope for a stronger, more united Canada for all Canadians. We see the support for our cause: more than a hundred thousand strong, and a hundred points of hope.”
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations in Canada.
For further information: Bryan Hendry, A/Director of Communications, (613) 241-6789, ext. 229, cell (613) 293-6106, [email protected]; Nancy Pine, Communications Advisor – Office of the National Chief, (613) 241-6789, ext 243, (613) 298-6382, [email protected]