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AFN chief delivers impassioned speech at national assembly in Regina PDF Print E-mail
Written by Manfred Joehnck   
Tuesday, 25 July 2017 14:41

AFN Chief Perry Bellegarde. Screenshot from AFN General Assembly stream.

It was a speech about progress and disappointments.

Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde says much has been done to improve relations and funding for First Nations, but he says racism is still an ugly reality in Canada. He gave several examples, including the shooting death of Colten Boushie on a farm near Biggar last August. Bellegarde says there have been far too many examples over the last year.

"This has to end, the violence the racism the discrimination, this has to end," he said. "We know these are not just First Nations problems, but these are Canada’s problems, and we must work together to solve them."

The AFN leader also reflected on the theme of the conference "Our Children, Our Future." Bellegarde says that future has been marked by tragedies of the past, including residential schools, family dysfunction and addictions.

"Our people turned to alcohol and drugs to numb the pain," he said. "There is loss, there is physical abuse, there is sexual abuse, there is emotional abuse, there is incest. Now, those are ugly words, but we cannot be afraid to speak them, we cannot be afraid when someone says them. We have to create safe places for those who want to break free of abuse."

Bellegarde also gave his support to the inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women. He admits there have been problems and resignations, but says the work is too important to be lost. He says the AFN will do whatever it can to help the inquiry succeed.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 July 2017 14:45
NHL prospect Ethan Bear lifted up as role model at AFN assembly PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chelsea Laskowski   
Tuesday, 25 July 2017 14:22

Ethan Bear speaks after Tuesday’s starblanket presentation. Photo by Manfred Joehnck.

A proud family and proud First Nation stood before the Assembly of First Nations assembly on Tuesday to honour Ochapawace hockey player Ethan Bear.

Bear played with the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds for four seasons and is now an Edmonton Oilers prospect. He says he didn't get to where he is today without a lot of support.

“The support I had growing up was pretty amazing, from my family and my community. Both my family and my community are pretty large and to have them here with me today is pretty special and I couldn’t be more humbled to have such an amazing group beside me,” he told more than 1,000 people in attendance at the Regina AFN gathering after being wrapped in a starblanket and played an honour song.

Kahkewistahaw Chief Evan Taypotat was a mentor for Bear growing up, saying “when Ethan was a little guy we kind of recognized that he was pretty good at hockey and we said as a family we have to support them.”

He also and spoke of the financial sacrifices both Bear’s mother Geraldine and father Lloyd have made in order to send Ethan to tournaments all over North America, and of Geraldine’s devotion to driving the 20 hours to one of his games in Seattle without even a second thought.

“When someone has someone that they believe in them and they push them, our kids can do a lot,” Taypotat said.

While Taypotat spoke on stage, Aboriginal NHL legend Reggie Leach snuck behind him to chat with Ethan. Also speaking during the honour ceremony were Ochapawace Chief Margaret Bear and FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron.

Bear is hosting a hockey school on Kahkewistahaw starting on Monday.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 July 2017 14:26
Indigenous Affairs changing the way it funds First Nations PDF Print E-mail
Written by Manfred Joehnck   
Tuesday, 25 July 2017 14:05

Minister Carolyn Bennett. Screenshot from AFN General Assembly stream.

The federal government is making a couple of changes to make it easier for First Nations to plan long-term projects and fund essential services.

The announcement was made today at the AFN General Assembly in Regina. Beginning April 1 of next year, federal funds will no longer have to be spent during a single fiscal year, but can instead be rolled over from one year to the next.

AFN Chief Perry Bellegarde says it gives First Nations a lot more flexibility, especially for long-term projects. He says it is something the assembly has been pushing for.

"So again, it just shows that by coming together and dialoguing it, and identifying what I call low-hanging fruit, we should be able to pick that and keeping moving forward because the bigger issue is looking toward long-term sustainable, predictable funding," he said.

Indigenous Affairs Minister, Carolyn Bennett, says it is another step in providing First Nations with more fiscal control.

"But again, as we move government to government, nation-to-nation, it is about the previous paternalism," she said. "It was about, if you hadn’t spent it by the end of the year, you had to give it back, right, it just didn’t make any sense."

Bennett also announced a new arrangement will be worked out for funding essential services. Under the current policy, First Nations have to raise part of the funds for the project, something she says many First Nations could not afford.

She says a more equitable plan will be worked and put in place in the coming months. Both changes take effect April 1, 2018.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 July 2017 14:46
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