Shawn Atleo, the newly re-elected national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, called on all Canadians to unite with his people in making a new future for native people, saying they “are on the cusp of major transformative change.”
“It is about time we pull back the veil on misunderstanding and we engage all Canadians to walk with us and give effect to the notion… we are all treaty people,” said Atleo at his Toronto news conference Thursday. He also paid tribute to the young people in native communities.
“You can’t helped but be moved by stories of resilience of what young people are achieving irrespective of seven generations of residential schools.” Atleo reiterated what he considered key issues: resource development, economic sustainability and called for a national inquiry into the hundreds of dead or missing native women across the country.
Atleo said he would stand up to any attempts to sweep away native rights to their resources or control over their lands:”We will act on our rights, our treaty rights, our inherent rights, our title rights.”
The remark echoes what Atleo said on CBC News Network earlier when he said he will stand up to protect the rights of his people when push comes to shove in dealing with the federal government. Atleo countered critics who say he’s too soft on Ottawa.
The AFN leader pointed out that Ottawa, with Bill C-38 [the budget implementation bill], was attempting to “overstep treaties that have been validated in UN international law and in the Canadian constitution” and vowed that “First Nations will stand for their rights to protect the environment and the right to their fair share of resources.”
Atleo emphasized the importance of team work and and need to “join together.”
While Atleo said he had a “strong set of instructions” from the chiefs, many were expressing their disappointment over his previous term.
Cozy with the Conservatives
“There are some very clear concerns that have come from the various regions,” said Chief Isadore Day of Serpent River First Nation.
“There has been this question: is the national chief’s office too close to the Conservative government?”
During the campaign, candidates charged that the leadership has played nice with the federal government only to receive nothing in return.
“We [had] seven candidates challenging Atleo,” Pamela Palmater, who finished second on the ballot, said during the campaign.
“I think that’s almost history. So for me, and what I’m hearing, that is pretty strong evidence that we’re not happy with what’s happening.”
For the rest of this article, please go to the CBC website: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2012/07/18/f-atleo-national-chief-challenges.html