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CANADA 16-19 Jul 2012 First Nations Assembly holds annual meeting

Delegates from Canada’s aboriginal communities meet in Toronto for the Annual General Assembly of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN)

July 16, 2012 - NULL

CANADA 16-19 Jul 2012 First Nations Assembly holds annual meeting

Delegates from Canada's aboriginal communities meet in Toronto for the Annual General Assembly of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN). Current issues include a housing crisis in many reserves and third-party financial management. They delegates will also consider the outcome of their January meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, troubling statistics on the number of murdered or missing aboriginal women, and developments in the Keystone XL and Northern Gateway pipelines saga.

Failed colonial policies plague First Nations to this day and are the biggest obstacle to progress, National Chief

CANADA 16-19 Jul 2012 First Nations Assembly holds annual meeting

Delegates from Canada's aboriginal communities meet in Toronto for the Annual General Assembly of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN). Current issues include a housing crisis in many reserves and third-party financial management. They delegates will also consider the outcome of their January meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, troubling statistics on the number of murdered or missing aboriginal women, and developments in the Keystone XL and Northern Gateway pipelines saga.

Failed colonial policies plague First Nations to this day and are the biggest obstacle to progress, National Chief Shawn Atleo said in December in a CBC report. Atleo said the 1876 Indian Act blocks First Nations progress and called for a "reset" of their relationship with the federal government.

Federal aboriginal policy and the Act, which drives it, are coming under close scrutiny in the aftermath of graphic images of poverty in the Attawapiskat reserve in northern Ontario. The dire straits of the occupants have cast the spotlight on shameful conditions in dozens of reserves across the country, according to the Globe & Mail. Ottawa's response for Attawapiskat and several other stricken communities has been to place the community's finances in the hands of an outside trustee. This third-party management, the government's effort to make sure federal funding isn't misspent, has been panned on many sides.

And if it moves beyond the proposal stage, a Conservative legislators' idea for a fundamental change to Canada's reserve system is certain to get a thumbs down from the AFN. The Globe & Mail reports that the proposal advocates legislation that would allow natives to own private property within the communal land of reserves, making it easier to accumulate wealth and to use homes as collateral when seeking bank loans to start businesses.

The Native Women's Association of Canada says more than 600 aboriginal women have gone missing or have been murdered since 1990, and it believes there may be many more. The organization says law enforcement and officials are "slow, often dismissive of reports made by family members of missing women, uncoordinated and generally inadequate."

The proposed Keystone XL and Northern Gateway pipelines are causing contention. A coalition of 130 aboriginal groups said in December it will create a human wall to prevent the proposed Northern Gateway, which would run from Alberta to the British Columbia coast, from going ahead. Many groups also oppose the proposed Keystone XL project, a Trans-Canada Corp. pipline, which would connect Canada's oil sands to refineries on the United States Gulf Coast. (WRITTEN Dec 2011)

RELATED READING:

Third-party management 'can wreak havoc' on first nations (Globe & Mail 14 Dec 2011)
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/third
-party-management-can-wreak-havoc-on-first-nations/article2271392/page1/

Atleo says Indian Act blocks First Nations progress (CBC 6 Dec 2011)
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/sudbury/story/2011/12/06/pol-afn-special-chiefs-meeting.html

Canada's First Nations: a scandal where the victims are blamed (Guardian 2 Dec 2011)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/dec/11/canada-third-world-first-nation-attawapiskat?newsfeed=true

Date written/update: 2012-07-16