(Ottawa, ON): Hundreds of First Nations leadership, Chiefs, Knowledge Keepers, Elders, youth, women and 2SLGBTQ+ people from across the country will gather on the territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh in Vancouver, BC for the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) 43rd Annual General Assembly (AGA) next week.
DATES: July 5-7, 2022
LOCATION: Vancouver Convention Centre (West) 1055 Canada Place, Vancouver BC
Media accreditation is required, and media are encouraged to pre-register online: meetings.afn.ca.Media access will be in-person only. There is no cost for accredited media to attend. Media access is not available during dialogue sessions July 4, 2022.
The AFN AGA will feature discussion and decision-making on key priorities for First Nations, including election procedures, governance, residential institutions, climate action, the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, housing, fisheries, early learning and child care, among others.
Highlights include opening ceremonies beginning 8:30 a.m. PDT Tuesday July 5 and a special honouring ceremony for the delegates that met earlier this year with Pope Francis at the Vatican.
The AFN AGA provides the space for First Nations leaders to discuss and deliberate on First Nations priorities and direct the work of the AFN, the National Chief and Executive Committee through resolutions.
The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is a national advocacy organization that works to advance the collective aspirations of First Nations individuals and communities across Canada on matters of national or international nature and concern.Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.
1,000 acres in Central New York’s Tully Valley will be returned to the Onondaga Nation to create a wildlife and brook trout sanctuary
TULLY, N.Y. — Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland today celebrated a unique settlement agreement as part of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) Program that will return more than 1,000 acres of ancestral land to the Onondaga Nation, one of the largest returns of land to an Indigenous nation by a state.
The agreement is a result of the March 2018 NRDAR settlement between the Natural Resource Trustees and Honeywell International, Inc. regarding the Onondaga Lake NPL, and will convey the title and full ownership of Honeywell’s land to the Onondaga Nation to restore and steward the property.
As Natural Resource Trustees for the settlement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) signed a resolution that directs Honeywell to transfer the title to more than 1,000 acres of open space in Central New York’s Tully Valley to the Onondaga Nation.
“This historic agreement represents a unique opportunity to return traditional homelands back to Indigenous people to steward for the benefit of their community,” said Secretary Haaland. “We look forward to drawing upon the Onondaga Nation’s expertise and Indigenous knowledge in helping manage the area’s valuable wildlife and habitat. Consistent with the President’s America the Beautiful initiative, all of us have a role to play in this Administration’s work to ensure our conservation efforts are locally led and support communities’ health and well-being.”
“Today is a historic day for New York State, the Biden Administration, and our many partners in respecting and recognizing the Onondaga Nation as the original stewards of these lands and waters,” Governor Kathy Hochul said. “This scenic location in the Tully Valley will be owned by the Nation and its people to continue their legacy of conservation that will protect these cultural and ecological resources for the benefit of Nation citizens and all New Yorkers for generations to come.”
“It is with great joy that the Onondaga Nation welcomes the return of the first substantial acreage of its ancestral homelands,” said Onondaga Nation Chief Tadodaho Sidney Hill. “The Nation can now renew its stewardship obligations to restore these lands and waters and to preserve them for the future generations yet to come. The Nation hopes that this cooperative, government-to-government effort will be another step in healing between themselves and all others who live in this region, which has been the homeland of the Onondaga Nation since the dawn of time.”
The Tully Valley property includes the headwaters of Onondaga Creek, more than 45 acres of wetland and floodplains and approximately 980 acres of forest and successional fields. The cold waters of Onondaga Creek support a small population of brook trout, a population which may be fully restored with proper stewardship. The wetlands, floodplains, forests and fields are home to wildlife such as great blue heron, songbirds, waterfowl, hawks, bald eagles, frogs, bats, and other mammals including white-tailed deer.
The federal-nation-state partnership that led to the return of this property to the Onondaga people will include a conservation easement with DEC. The easement will prohibit commercial development, provide for the protection and restoration of natural areas, including fish and wildlife habitat, in accordance with traditional ecological knowledge, and allow compatible outdoor recreational and educational uses, including public access to Fellows Falls.
The Onondaga Nation will develop a Management Plan in consultation with the Trustees to determine the type and extent of recreational and public use compatible with the Nation’s re-establishment of culturally and ecologically significant native vegetation and habitats.
Honeywell International is required by the settlement to implement 18 restoration projects, including the Tully Valley land transfer announced today, and pay more than $5 million for the Trustees’ implementation of additional restoration projects in and around the Onondaga Lake Watershed.
Honeywell has completed or is in the process of completing the restoration projects including: 100 acres of grassland restoration; preservation of more than 200 hundred acres of wetland habitat; preservation and restoration of an additional 850 acres of habitat within the Onondaga Lake watershed; a public boat ramp along the Seneca River; enhanced habitat and fishing opportunities along the shores of Onondaga Lake and in Ninemile Creek; an extension of the Empire State Trail from Camillus to Harbor Brook; and the transfer of the Honeywell Visitor Center to the State.
Trigger warning: readers may be triggered by the recount of Indian Residential Schools. To access a 24- hour National Crisis Line, call: 1-866-925-4419. Community Assistance Program (CAP) can be accessed for citizens of the Anishinabek Nation: 1-800-663-1142
ANISHINABEK NATION HEAD OFFICE (June 30, 2022) – Anishinabek Nation Leadership is once again encouraging people across Canada to reflect on the important history of this country on July 1. Canada Day celebrations and events often ignore the impact that colonization has had on First Nations, overlooking the fact that the struggle with the State to become an equal Treaty partner continues today.
“Canada Day is often a somber day for Anishinabek citizens as it is a reminder that the sacrifices of our nation go unacknowledged as we continue to face inequitable conditions in many of our communities. Canada needs to acknowledge that the success of this country is built on the displacement of the original nations of this land. The dark history of attempted assimilation is tangible for our citizens and celebratory events are often ignorant to the memory of our ancestors and to our collective experience,” states Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Reg Niganobe.
Injustices due to assimilative policies and practices of Indian Residential Schools and Indian Day Schools continue to create negative impacts for Anishinabek Nation citizens. The Anishinabek Nation has care-taker communities that are doing the careful work of repatriation and there are Day School Survivors struggling through the administrative process of compensation while others are turned down or deemed ineligible. With the fast-approaching deadline for Indian Day School claims, the Anishinabek Nation is advocating for an extension to ensure that everyone who is eligible has a fair opportunity to submit their applications.
“Last year, we saw many peoples and allies across Anishinabek Nation wear orange in support of Indian Residential School Survivors. It was extraordinary to witness so many coming together in unity through marches, ceremonies, and storytelling to convey the important message of the true history of Canada. Honouring our ancestors and Survivors of today is a vital component of long term healing. I encourage everyone to wear orange on July 1 to pay tribute to this legacy,” states Lake Huron Regional Deputy Grand Council Chief Travis Boissoneau.
Many First Nations will once again be holding ceremonies and finding ways to peacefully reflect on the memory of their ancestors and to honour the strength and perseverance of Survivors.
Supporting these efforts is important to continued healing and creating real pathways to reconciliation.
“As we reflect on July 1 and nation-to-nation reconciliation, it is important to acknowledge the realities that First Nations in Canada face. Consistent under-funding and lack of infrastructure impedes access to basic human needs like clean drinking water and housing continue to be persistent, unaddressed issues,” adds Grand Council Chief Niganobe. “Beyond July 1 and the new statutory holiday on September 30, we must actionize systemic change and call for truth and reconciliation every day.”
The Anishinabek Nation encourages all occupants of this land to take the time to listen, learn, and reflect on July 1.
∙ Anishinabek Nation Education Resources
∙ Anishinabek Nation Resilience Speaker Series
∙ Orange Shirt Day
∙ Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action
∙ United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People
The Anishinabek Nation is a political advocate for 39 member First Nations across Ontario, representing approximately 65,000 citizens. The Anishinabek Nation is the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European contact.
Including FCC’s farm management software, AgExpert, in the name and on the farm signals the value both EMILI and FCC place on growing Canada’s digital agriculture system. The 5,500-acre full-scale production innovation farm near Winnipeg will use AgExpert software as part of its testing, research, and technology development.
“The AgExpert partnership is an exciting opportunity to further deliver results on the work underway on the farm,” said Ray Bouchard, EMILI’s board chairperson. “Leveraging the tools AgExpert offers will help us deliver data to the industry and producers who are invested in applying best practices and new technology to support their operations.”
The continued success of Canadian agriculture relies on its ability to focus on adopting technology, attracting a skilled and diverse labour force, and embracing sustainability, all of which supports profitability on the farm.
Innovation Farms powered by AgExpert is one part of a larger project that will see EMILI work with FCC to build a Canadian network of agriculture technology, knowledge, and labour to address the changing needs of the agriculture industry.
“Innovation Farms is an important next step in the application of intelligent technologies in agriculture and the evolution of smart farms across Canada. We intend to develop real-world digital agriculture solutions that will give Canadian producers the edge in a quickly changing industry,” said Bouchard. “This project reaches several key areas we see as drivers in the shift the industry tells us it needs to see.”
EMILI’s four strategic priorities are:
Innovation and research
Skills, training and talent development
Each is designed to create a network of people and practical solutions to position Canada as the creator and adopter of digital agriculture technology.
EMILI takes a holistic approach to growing the digital agriculture ecosystem. That means putting resources into key areas that together will create job opportunities through skill development, generate investment in start-ups with a focus on women and Indigenous peoples and provide the technology development and adoption to connect Canadian producers to new and profitable ways of operating.
Key projects on Innovation Farms powered by AgExpert will include climate change mitigation, disease and pest management and water use for production agriculture.
“EMILI’s ability to develop partnerships like Innovation Farms powered by AgExpert is a testament to what can be accomplished when the agriculture industry comes together,” says Fred Wall, FCC’s marketing and digital agriculture vice-president.
“We all know the challenges facing agriculture and we can meet them when we put our energy and resources into the right places. We are driving the future of agriculture by connecting the people, ideas and opportunities and harnessing the advantage of working together.”
EMILI’s approach is rooted in industry support, including partnering on this project with Farm Credit Canada and AgExpert.
The Enterprise Machine Intelligence and Learning Initiative (EMILI) is an industry-led non-profit organization established to accelerate the growth of the agri-food industry in the prairies by promoting digital agriculture and digital agriculture technologies.
EMILI’s digital agriculture expertise is based on its membership and connections to the digital agriculture, plant protein industry, and agri-food sector. EMILI works with industry organizations and academic institutions from across the technology sector.
JUNEAU – This fall the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) will be offering free Alaska Native Language classes with no tuition or fees. Classes are offered in Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian languages at all levels — beginner, intermediate, and advanced. The free classes are for our non-credit courses, but credit can be received if a student chooses to pay tuition and fees.
A full list of classes available can be found at uas.alaska.edu/schedule, along with their descriptions. Our free language courses are offered both in-person and online. Registration links are also available from that page. The free courses are under the AKLA designator, and the tuition courses are under the AKL designator. Students should know that the free options do not count towards degree and certificate requirements.
“The University of Alaska Southeast is committed to recognizing and acknowledging historical wrongs endured by Alaska Native Communities. We are making sure Indigenous people don’t have to pay to learn their own language. It’s so important in the work towards language revitalization and overall healing,” notes Carin Silkaitis, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences.
Another exciting announcement is that UAS will offer a Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Studies starting this fall, which provides a series of courses in fields of Alaska Native Arts, Alaska Native Languages, and Alaska Native Governance. The mission of the degree is to decolonize institutions through Indigenization and inclusion, and ensuring that Alaska Native languages, peoples, histories, and organizations are seen, known, values, and included. The Indigenous Studies Bachelor of Arts is committed to the needs and well-being of Alaska Native communities, and strives to ensure that equity and cultural safety are present and protected in organizations. Students of Indigenous Studies are beneficiaries of Indigenous languages and knowledges, and also stewards for the benefit of future generations.
One of the coordinators of the program is Dr. X̱ʼunei Lance Twitchell, who shared the following thought on offering free language course options: “Education in America for Native American peoples has long been a vehicle of oppression, genocide, and assimilation. Our goal at UAS is to transform education into a vehicle of opportunity, equity, and healing. As one of our elders, Kaséix̱ Selina Everson said: haa wsineix̱ haa yoo x̱ʼatángi (our language saved us). We intend on honoring the work and words of those who came before us, and look forward to doing all we can to help move our language communities to places of safety.”
Learn more about UAS programs at uas.alaska.edu or speak to an advisor at 907-796-6100.
Three years on since its inception, Futurpreneur’s targeted program continues to pave the way for economic resurgence and reconciliation, with direction from Cree-Saulteaux Director Holly Atjecoutay.
Toronto, Canada – June 27, 2022 – Budding Indigenous entrepreneurs, aged 18-39, in Canada who are seeking financial support, mentorship, and business-related resources can access all this and more through Futurpreneur’s Indigenous-focused startup program.
Now under the oversight of Cree-Saulteaux Director Holly Atjecoutay, the Indigenous Entrepreneur Startup Program (IESP) – which launched in 2019 – has continued to grow exponentially in size and scope, attracting young entrepreneurs from coast-to-coast for its tailored programming led by a team with lived experience and mentorship services that have helped turn hundreds of ideas into flourishing businesses.
Designed to guide young entrepreneurs through the intricate startup process, the IESP provides qualifying participants with financing (up to $60,000), access to resources and workshops, and matches them with an experienced mentor for up to two years.
The IESP has kickstarted over 100 young Indigenous entrepreneurs’ foray into the world of entrepreneurship and is one of several startup programs offered by Futurpreneur. Continuing to develop a robust offering that is Indigenous-centric remains a top priority for Atjecoutay, who along with her business qualifications also brings a combination of her lived experience and know-how as “a First Nations woman living within an urban center” to the program.
A combination of her personal lived experiences and the collective experiences of her Indigenous team of experts has allowed for curation of a dedicated program that addresses specific issues and challenges that Indigenous entrepreneurs face and provides solutions to help overcome them. This includes resources and workshops dedicated to the empowerment of Indigenous youth through improving their financial literacy and business management skills.
Through IESP, “we want to focus on the positive and what our young Indigenous entrepreneurs bring. That is their value proposition, niche, and unique business models so that we can amplify that and support them in various ways,” Atjecoutay said. She also notes that although young Indigenous entrepreneurs will encounter challenges that there are “networks and systems in place to support them,” with awareness of such environments being another such challenge.
Focus on individuals & community
Enrolled in the program is entrepreneur and marketing expert, Kaeden Merasty, a member of the Cree Flying Dust First Nation Band and founder of The Indigenous Marketing Company. Through his startup, Kaeden provides an array of marketing, copywriting, and digital media services to Indigenous businesses. After earning a Bachelor’s in Commerce, with a specialization in both marketing and international business, Kaeden began operating out of the Swan Lake First Nation offices in Headingley and quickly built up the company’s clientele and brand image. With an emphasis on empowerment and equal opportunity IMC’s goal is to support Indigenous communities, and individuals, who may otherwise be marginalized – in his own words he wants “to help as many Indigenous people as [he] can.”
Located just outside of Winnipeg, Cru Barber & Co. is a full-service barbershop supported by the IESP. Founder Mitch McLeod started practicing on his brothers as children before receiving a cosmetology diploma and completing his apprenticeship to become certified. After relocating to Niverville in 2021, McLeod wanted to focus on cultivating a community atmosphere through an inviting and relaxing in-shop experience and by providing clients with confidence through premium quality grooming services. There are nods to McLeod’s Cree heritage throughout the branding and design of the shop. Pieces such as a bison skull, sage and smudge shells can be found throughout the space and the “C” in the Cru logo is a sweetgrass braid. “These touches make our Indigenous clients feel especially welcome and invites curiosity from our non-Indigenous clients. It’s great to be able to share my culture with people that may not have been exposed to it otherwise,” he said.
The IESP helps young Indigenous entrepreneurs begin the process of achieving their dream, with a long-term outlook that every business helped will continue to reap benefits within Indigenous communities as a whole. A main goal of Atjecoutay and the IESP is to “foster collaboration between Indigenous businesses to support one another, which will eventually bolster the economic resurgence that we’re working toward.” The economic resurgence Atjecoutay refers to is necessary now more than ever as Canada re-emerges from the Covid-19 Pandemic, especially within Indigenous communities. A recent CCAB report notes that 66% of Indigenous businesses say the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic have negatively impacted their business operations and that overall Indigenous firms have a less hopeful outlook over the next 12 months compared to other Canadian businesses.
However, as Canada re-opens there is reason for optimism, as well as change, in the form of the IESP, Atjecoutay, and the program’s business development managers (and other staffers) who highlight what options are available to new Indigenous entrepreneurs through their expertise and knowledge.
Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Reg Niganobe extends congratulations to the five (5) First Nations that have ratified the Anishinabek Nation Governance Agreement. Bill S-10, Anishinabek Nation Governance Agreement Act has now received Royal Assent.
“On behalf of the Anishinabek Nation, I would like to extend our congratulations to the five First Nations on Bill S-10, Anishinabek Nation Governance Agreement Act, receiving Royal Assent today. This marks yet another important milestone towards enactment. With Bill S-10 becoming law, communities are one step closer to realizing the true potential of the Agreement,” states Grand Council Chief Reg Niganobe.
On June 9, 2022, Bill S-10 was before the Senate for its first reading and by June 16, had completed its third reading. The Bill was before the House of Commons on June 17 for its first reading and received unanimous consent for approval on June 22.
The Anishinabek Nation Governance Agreement outlines four areas of jurisdiction: Leadership Selection, Citizenship, Language and Culture, and Operation and Management of Government. These jurisdictional pillars will make sections of the Indian Act concerning governance and membership non-applicable. This is significant progress that will enable First Nations to invest and promote the revitalization of fundamental governance principles in their communities that prioritizes identity, culture, and language.
Now that Royal Assent has been received and the law has officially come into force, the leadership of the signatory First Nations eagerly anticipate enactment and the essential resource allocation they critically need. We further urge the government to ensure expedient enactment to guarantee these communities have their funding agreements by October 2022.
Seed funding from the Mastercard Foundation will help ensure that at least $45 million is invested in First Nations, Inuit and Métis teacher training
The Rideau Hall Foundation (RHF) is humbled to announce the Indigenous Teacher Education Initiative, with an aim to grow the number of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis teachers in the education system by 10,000, and to enable systemic changes in support of more meaningful and sustainable Indigenous teacher employment opportunities. Towards this goal, the RHF will be investing in excess of $45 million into community-driven and innovative strategies towards increasing the representation of First Nations, Inuit and Métis teachers in classrooms.
“The RHF is undertaking this work because the need for more Indigenous teachers is widespread in rural and urban communities from coast to coast to coast. While being transformational for students and Indigenous communities, First Nations, Inuit and Métis teachers are also essential to Canada’s reconciliation journey. We are working to ally and support pathways for new Indigenous teachers and towards a more representative workforce in K-12 educational systems,” says Bill Mintram, Director of Indigenous and Northern Relations at the RHF.
This initiative will be supported by several partners, including the Mastercard Foundation, which has made a significant lead philanthropic investment towards this initiative’s future impact.
“Our work at the Mastercard Foundation aims to support Indigenous youth on their journeys through education and on to meaningful livelihoods in accordance with their aspirations. This initiative with the Rideau Hall Foundation helps to advance both important objectives,” said Jennifer Brennan, Head, Canada Programs for the Mastercard Foundation. “We are committed to listening and acting in the direction of Indigenous youth and their communities. Enabling a new generation of Indigenous educators will contribute to building Indigenous education systems and create a hopeful future for Indigenous learners.”
This relationship-based initiative will be built with direction from a National Advisory Committee on Indigenous Teacher Education, to be co-chaired by nationally recognized leaders in Indigenous education and RHF Board Directors Roberta Jamieson, OC, and Dr. Mark Dockstator. The RHF looks forward to engaging in partnership with key delivery organizations and faculties of education across Canada towards building accessible, sustainable, and meaningful pathways for more First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples into the teaching profession in the years ahead.
The Rideau Hall Foundation is an independent national charitable organization established to mobilize ideas, people, and resources across the country to tap into our national spirit and help ignite our shared potential. Working towards a better Canada, the RHF celebrates what is best about Canada while working with partners to meaningfully improve lives and foster the conditions for more Canadians to succeed and thrive.
The Mastercard Foundation works with visionary organizations to enable young people in Africa and in Indigenous communities in Canada to access dignified and fulfilling work. It is one of the largest, private foundations in the world with a mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. The Foundation was created by Mastercard in 2006 as an independent organization with its own Board of Directors and management. For more information on the Foundation, please visit: www.mastercardfdn.org
The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples is deeply disturbed by a proposed bill excluding the voice of urban Indigenous Peoples across the country. Bill C-29 looks to establish a council that would report on the state of reconciliation in Canada, but fails to include the voice of CAP and its constituents.
“Reconciliation must include all Indigenous Peoples across Canada regardless of where they live,” says CAP National Chief Elmer St. Pierre. “The majority of Indigenous people now live off-reserve and in urban areas. Their voices play a critical role in understanding the numerous challenges Indigenous people face on a daily basis. Denying CAP and its constituents a place on this essential council would be a tremendous loss in the efforts towards reconciliation.”
Bill C-29 looks to address the 94 calls to action released by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015. In its current form, the legislation would create a council comprised of several directors but only three positions for National Indigenous Organizations. In doing so, the proposed bill would discriminate against hundreds of thousands of Indigenous peoples living in urban areas.
“The federal government must include all Indigenous peoples when creating legislation and engaging on vital issues,” says St. Pierre. “The exclusion of any Indigenous voices is a step in the wrong direction.”
CAP demands the federal government rework bill C-29 to include the majority of Indigenous peoples now living off-reserve and in urban areas. The exclusion of any Indigenous voices is a step in the wrong direction.