NEWS RELEASE · 27th July 2011
Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo commented today following clarification provided by the federal government on its process and position to deal with specific land claims. A July 25 media report stated that the federal government is planning to halt claim negotiations by presenting "final offers" to First Nations, who would then have access to the Specific Claims Tribunal if the offer was deemed unacceptable. A statement released by the Minister's office today claims the reports contain "inaccuracies".
"Timely and effective resolution of First Nations claims is in the best interest of First Nations and all Canadians," said National Chief Atleo. "Just as we worked with the federal government on the Specific Claims Tribunal Act, we must continue to work together to address matters as raised through the 'Justice at Last' report. We need to immediately advance work on improving negotiations processes and implementation as envisioned in the Joint Action Plan between the AFN and Canada."
At the recent AFN Annual General Assembly in Moncton, New Brunswick, Chiefs passed a resolution on "Specific Claims Tribunal Act Timelines", calling on the Assembly to:
•Urge Canada to not arbitrarily cut-off negotiations.
•Affirm that a decision to terminate negotiations ought to be based on the principles of good faith, respect and mutuality.
•Call on Canada to stop the de facto rejection of specific claims through letters of partial acceptance and the requirement for sign-off on more issues than those identified by the partial acceptance.
The National Chief stated: "First Nations are naturally concerned about any apparent attempt that may diminish or deny our lawful claims. Claims must be dealt with through a process that is respectful of the legal obligations of all parties, including the federal government. We will continue to press forward on an approach with the government that reinforces the responsibility to work in good faith on all matters that affect our lands, our rights and our peoples. Nothing less will do."
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.