Topic: Today’s News

UN International Year of Indigenous Languages 2019 shines a spotlight on the fight to save and preserve Indigenous languages in BC and across Canada

UN International Year of Indigenous Languages 2019 shines a spotlight on the fight to save and preserve Indigenous languages in BC and across Canada

Coast Salish Traditional Territory/Vancouver: Today, representatives from the First Nations Leadership Council and the First Peoples’ Cultural Council attended the official global launch of the Year of Indigenous Languages (IYIL2019) at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France.  The event gathered high-level governmental officials, Indigenous peoples, civil society, academia, media, information and memory organizations, United Nations agencies, public language harmonization and documentation institutions and private sector bodies to celebrate under the theme: “Indigenous languages matter for sustainable development, peace building and reconciliation.”

The First Nations Leadership Council strongly supports the designation of this year as the International Year of Indigenous Languages (IYIL2019) and will be actively involved in celebrating IYIL throughout 2019.  The preservation of Indigenous languages is a top priority for B.C.’s First Nations. Efforts to support Indigenous language revitalization in B.C. are being led by the First Peoples’ Cultural Council, in partnership with First Nations communities, and with significant support from the Province of B.C. through $50 million in funding in 2018.


Grand Chief Edward John, member of the First Nations Summit Political Executive and Co-chair of the UNESCO IYIL2019 Steering Committee

“Indigenous Languages are the essence and fabric of Indigenous cultures and are fundamental to our survival, dignity and well-being as Indigenous peoples. Language is our inherent right and is central to our cultural and spiritual identities as First Nations. Furthermore, language plays a fundamental part in indigenous peoples’ identity by connecting individuals to communities, therefore providing cultural and spiritual context in the daily lives of Indigenous peoples. The designation of 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages will shine a light on our collective struggles to preserve and protect indigenous languages in B.C. and across Canada and will hopefully assist in efforts preventing them from being more at risk of extinction.”

Regional Chief Terry Teegee, BC Assembly of First Nations

“This is an exciting time as many individuals and groups are creating and building a wave of growth and activity, a “renaissance,” in Indigenous languages and culture. In particular, our youth are inspiring all of us with their creativity and use of technology in their drive to find new ways to communicate with others using their ancestral languages.”

Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Secretary-Treasurer of the UBCIC

“Canada has gone to great lengths to destroy our inherent connection to our Indigenous Languages. With the destruction of our languages we lose a critical connection to our cultures, our world-views and the lived-experiences of our ancestors. Our languages hold the keys to the rebuilding of our Indigenous Nations, to healing the damages of colonialism, and to re-establishing our Indigenous legal orders and jurisdiction to our lands, territories and resources. The UBCIC fully supports UN’s launch of the International Year of Indigenous Languages. States are culpable for the destruction of Indigenous languages around the globe and it is States who must be held accountable for their resurgence.”

Tracey Herbert, CEO, First Peoples’ Cultural Council

“Canada, and in particular British Columbia, is blessed with a rich diversity of Indigenous languages. All of the B.C. languages are severely endangered, and time is of the essence to revitalize them. Despite the challenges these languages face, I am optimistic for their future, thanks to the success we are having creating new speakers through immersion; collaborating with communities to develop language revitalization plans; and using technology to support language documentation, which is curated and controlled by First Nations. The UN International Year for Indigenous Languages is a key opportunity to bring international attention to the issues facing Indigenous languages globally and to showcase the successful strategies that are making the reclamation of our languages possible. We raise our hands to B.C.’s language leaders, language learners and to the Government of B.C., whose commitment to languages has been a game changer and an example of true reconciliation to be celebrated in this important year.”

Scott Fraser, B.C. Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation

“For too long Indigenous language revitalization was neglected. Our government is supporting the important work of the First Peoples’ Cultural Council so that Indigenous communities can deepen connections to language and culture. As a result of new provincial funding, the First Peoples’ Cultural Council has been able to partner with First Nations over the past year to expand community grants, language documentation, community outreach and programs that connect language learners and mentors. This work is key to reconciliation.”


Ottawa, ON— On Monday, 28 January 2019, NWAC President Francyne Joe and Executive
Director Lynne Groulx are attending the official global launch event of 2019 Year of Indigenous Languages.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United
Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) co-organized the event.

This will bring together government officials, Indigenous peoples, academia, media, civil society, United Nations agencies, private sector bodies, and more, to UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France. The theme for the event is:

“Indigenous languages matter for sustainable development, peace building and reconciliation.”
Indigenous languages contain our worldviews, cultures, and identities. Language revitalization is cultural revitalization. It is a crucial component of reconciliation.

Indigenous women and gender-diverse people are keepers of tradition, culture, and language. We have an important role to play in language revitalization and NWAC is delighted to have the opportunity to bring the voices of grassroots Indigenous women, girls, and gender-diverse people to this International forum.

#WeAreIndigenous and it is time our voices are heard.

First Nations students to benefit from BC Tripartite Education Agreement with Canada, British Columbia and the First Nations Education Steering Committee

News release

January 23, 2019 — West Vancouver, British Columbia — Indigenous Services Canada

Improving educational outcomes for First Nations students is central to the self-determination and well-being efforts of First Nations in British Columbia (B.C.).

Today, the Honourable Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Indigenous Services, the Honourable Rob Fleming, British Columbia Minister of Education, and Tyrone McNeil, President of the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC), announced the signing of the BC Tripartite Education Agreement which will benefit First Nations students, schools and communities across the province.

This five-year agreement replaces the BC Tripartite Education Framework Agreement (TEFA) originally signed in 2012, and is the result of an extensive engagement process between FNESC, Canada and B.C. It will benefit all First Nations students in B.C. and 200 First Nations, supporting students who attend any one of the 131 on-reserve First Nations schools or those who attend public or off-reserve independent schools in B.C.

The agreement will result in meaningful systemic changes in B.C. education, including:

  • a more sufficient and sustained funding model for B.C. First Nations education;
  • a new $20 million investment in funding for First Nations schools, including increased resources for First Nations language and culture and technology to enhance learning opportunities for students;
  • new policies to promote beneficial First Nations education agreements between First Nations and School Boards, including improved transportation services;
  • commitments to support the creation of a First Nations language policy leading to full-course offerings of First Nations languages in public schools;
  • joint efforts to monitor student achievement data in order to inform policy and practice, and;
  • professional development and information sharing opportunities to expand and deepen understanding of issues related to First Nations education.

Today’s announcement reflects the commitment of the parties to work together to close the education outcome gaps between First Nations students and non-First Nation students. It recognizes that First Nations people have the right to make educational decisions that affect their students and to control their own education institutions, consistent with their unique needs, experiences, beliefs and values.

Premier Savikataaq pays tribute to the Ahiarmiut relocatees

Premier Joe Savikataaq today released the following statement:

“After a long, painful journey to an apology, today we begin to heal. The forced relocation of the Ahiarmiut has been a shared trauma for many families, and has impacted generations in our communities.

I thank Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett for being here to deliver this apology on behalf of the federal government. I also want to recognize David Serkoak, president of the Ahiarmiut Relocation Society, for his tireless work and dedication over the last 25 years. It’s been a long road to finally receive the recognition and expression of regret you deserve.

Being from Arviat, I have seen firsthand the pain and intergenerational impacts of this forced relocation. Now, after 70 years, it feels like the path to recovery can finally start.”

First Nations Leadership Council concerned about Federal Cabinet Shuffle and New Direction in Relationship

Coast Salish Traditional Territory/Vancouver: The First Nations Leadership Council is deeply concerned that the recent shuffle in the federal Liberal cabinet signals a wavering commitment to addressing Canada’s colonial history and to realizing a true nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous peoples. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced adjustments to the government cabinet on January 14, 2019 with the appointment of Minister Seamus O’Reagan to the Department of Indigenous Services Canada, reassigning MP Jane Philpott to a Treasury Board appointment and the replacement of MP Jody Wilson-Raybould, now of Minister of Veteran Affairs, with Minister David Lametti, as Attorney General and Minister of Justice.

While BC Regional Chief Terry Teegee looks forward to working with the ministers in their new roles, the sweeping First Nations issues across this country require dedicated and consistent attention to ensure progress. “Advances made on the Nation-to-Nation relationship through reconciliation efforts and the work of Jody Wilson-Raybould and others has been positive and I hold up my hands to these ministers and the good work they have done.  However, continued momentum is required on these important efforts and I call on the new Ministers to ensure that this work continues and that the relationship between the Federal Crown and Indigenous Peoples continue to be a priority for this government.”

Cheryl Casimer, First Nations Summit political executive member said “The Prime Minister has said on numerous occasions that there was no relationship more important to him than that between himself and Indigenous Peoples of his country. Important work is underway or near completion to advance policy reform to provide for the recognition and implementation of Aboriginal title and self-determination and introduce federal child welfare legislation that will clear the way for Indigenous jurisdiction over the delivery of child welfare services. The departures of Wilson-Raybould and Philpott from their previous ministries at this critical juncture when this important work is underway or nearing fruition signals that the Prime Minister is no longer committed to reconciliation and reforging Canada’s relationship with Indigenous Peoples, as a priority.”

Prime Minister Trudeau committed to a renewed nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples, based on the recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership,” stated Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the UBCIC. “The removal of these critical and well-respected Ministers, during a period of significant conflict and tension, demonstrates Trudeau’s lack of resolve to address Canada’s deplorable relationship with Indigenous peoples. The Prime Minister has made a very clear decision to completely abandon the reconciliation agenda in favour of supporting business and industry in terms of oil and gas infrastructure development and similar projects.  We would like to thank both Minister Wilson-Raybould and Minister Philpott for their dedication and care in their efforts to work in partnership with Indigenous peoples to come to mutually agreed upon solutions. We call on the Prime Minister to clarify how the reassignment of these critical Ministers during such a crucial time in their work will be for the benefit of Indigenous peoples.”

Prime Minister Trudueu appointed MP Seamus O’Regan (St. John’s South – Mount Pearl) as the Minister of Indigenous Services, a newly created department since 2017. He moves from his former role as the Minister of Veterans Affairs. O’Regan was a correspondent with CTV National News, and a former host of Canada AM which he co-hosted. New cabinet members include MP David Lametti (Quebec) as the justice minister and attorney general and who had been serving as a parliamentary secretary for innovation. MP Bernadette Jordan (Nova Scotia) joins the cabinet as minister of rural economic development. She previously served as a parliamentary secretary for democratic institutions.

AFN Congratulates the Teslin Tlingit Council in Recent Yukon Supreme Court Ruling Confirming Canada’s Legal Obligations to Modern Treaties


(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde and AFN Yukon Regional Chief Kluane Adamek congratulate the Teslin Tlingit Council (TTC) on the recent Yukon Supreme Court decision that affirms Canada’s constitutional obligation to meaningfully and appropriately implement the terms of Modern Treaties, particularly the TTC Final and Self-Government Agreement.

“Self-government agreements have the potential to create a modern, effective relationship between First Nations and Canada, but Canada has to fulfill its promises once the agreements are made,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. “Otherwise, First Nations will not sign these documents. TTC signed their Final and Self-Government agreements on the understanding that their self-governing authority would be supported with fair funding from Canada. That isn’t happening and Canada is eroding its credibility. I lift up TTC for fighting for their people and their rights.”

Yukon Supreme Court Justice Ron Veale found that Canada has failed its obligations to the TTC Self-Government agreements by not providing funding for all its citizens. The court found that Canada has only been funding TTC and other Yukon First Nations on the number of “status” citizens. However, TTC’s self-government agreement does distinguish between citizens that hold Indian status and those that don’t.

For several years, TTC has noted the importance of properly funding all their citizens, according to the terms of their self-government agreements. Regional Chief Adamek says the court decision reaffirms TTC’s view and interpretation of their agreements.

“Justice Vaele’s decision sets a positive precedent and important recognition that Modern Treaties, particularly TTC’s self-government agreement, are paramount to federal policies. This ruling signals to Canada that meaningful realization of self-government requires the federal government to uphold its constitutional obligations to the terms of Final and Self-Government Agreements. Federal officials cannot continue to interpret our agreements through the lens of the Indian Act,” the Regional Chief said.

“Yukon First Nation children and families deserve proper programs and services supported by adequate funding based on the total population of citizens as determined by each respective First Nation. TTC, and other Yukon First Nations, entered into modern treaties, after decades of negotiation, to reach an agreement that would enable Canada and TTC to further their common priorities. At its core, the agreement is about ensuring Teslin Tlingit citizens, regardless of federally-imposed categories of status or non-status, can realize self-determinations in accordance with their principles and values.”

TTC signed their Final Land Claims and Self-Government Agreement in 1995, in good faith. Their preference, as has been their history, is to negotiate with governments to realize their interests. TTC is disappointed they had to turn to the courts to confirm what they’ve consistently stated since 2010. However, they see this decision as a turning point to get on with the work of finalizing a financial transfer agreement with Canada that will provide resources to meaningfully support the needs of their citizens.

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.

United Nations Human Rights Committee Findings that Indian Act still Discriminates Against First Nations Women, NWAC Urges Federal Government to Act

Ottawa, ON— On January 14, 2019 the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) released a decision on Sharon McIvor’s petition claiming registration provisions in the Indian Actdiscriminate against First Nations women, and their descendants, on the basis of sex.

The Committee found Canada failed to adequately protect First Nations women from discrimination. They stated Canada is obligated to remove existing sex-based discrimination from the Indian Act. Canada must ensure all First Nations women and their descendants are eligible for Indian Status on equal footing as First Nations men.

For decades, grassroots Indigenous women, and organizations like NWAC have advocated for the removal of sex-based discrimination in the Indian Act. Sex-based discriminationmeans First Nations women are more likely to be disenfranchised and face barriers in accessing services like healthcare and housing.

Since 1985, numerous amendments try to remove sex-based discrimination from the Indian Act, but none achieved full equality for First Nations women and their descendants.

If implemented, the second phase of provisions under Bill S-3 would remove all of the sex-based discrimination McIvor, and people in her circumstances, face. UNHRC cautioned Canada to ensure similar violations do not occur again.

Canada has180 days to report back on measures taken to fix the issue. The federal government can easily take the necessary actions and set a specific date to implement the second phase of provisions under Bill S-3.

NWAC calls on the federal government to take immediate action. A more expansive approach is required to account for all discriminatory provisions, including the second generation cut-off rule and the burden of proof to establish “Indian parentage”.

This ruling is historic for many First Nations women and their descendants. Indigenous women deserve nothing less than full equality. Canada must act now. Canada must stop discriminating.

NWAC to lead 2019 Ottawa Women’s March with Assembly of Seven Generations

Ottawa, ON – On Saturday January 19, 2019, the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) will gather on unceded Algonquin territory to participate in the 2019 Ottawa Women’s March. This year, NWAC will lead the march behind drummers from the Assembly of Seven Generations, a youth-led non-profit organization focused on cultural support and youth empowerment, and the Ogimaakwewak Singers.

The Ottawa Women’s March takes place on the same day thousands of people will rally in the streets throughout Canada and the world. The Women’s March is an annual global movement to raise awareness and advocate for legislative and policy changes concerning women’s rights, Indigenous rights, reproductive rights, environmental issues, 2SLGBTQ+ rights, racial equity, and more.

This year, NWAC marches to put an end to violence against women and girls. Due to the history and ongoing practice of colonization in Canada, Indigenous women, girls, and gender-diverse people experience disproportionate rates of violence. This must end.

For decades, NWAC worked to draw attention to the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG) crisis and advocate to end violence against Indigenous women and girls. Any progress made in 2018 is not enough. There is still so much work to be done to achieve safety and justice for MMIWG and their families.

NWAC acknowledges the interconnected nature of our struggles, and looks forward to marching alongside other organizations, individuals, and allies working to create positive change in their communities.

It’s 2019. It’s time we #StopDiscriminating. It’s time all women are heard. It’s time to march. Join the #WomenOfNWAC in our march for equality.

Commissioner’s Arts Award Open for Nominations

Nunavut Commissioner Nellie Kusugak is seeking nominations for the Nunavut Commissioner’s Arts Award.

The award, a cash prize of $10,000, will be presented to a visual artist who has made a major contribution to the arts.

Candidates must be Nunavut residents and/or Nunavut Inuit who have been working in the arts for more than two years. Candidates must be nominated, receiving the support of three individuals or organizations.

A selection committee will review all nominations. Nominees will be judged on their artistic achievements and the quality and impact of their work.

Nomination guidelines and nomination forms are available from the Commissioner’s office.

Deadline for nominations is February 28, 2019.

First Nations Priorities Must Be Canada’s Priorities – AFN National Chief Responds to Federal Cabinet Shuffle


(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde responded to today’s federal cabinet shuffle stating continued commitment and progress on First Nations priorities is critical to moving forward and closing the gap between First Nations and the rest of Canada.

“Cabinet positions will change, but First Nations peoples and issues must remain a top priority,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “We will work to ensure the entire cabinet understands that the First Nations agenda is Canada’s agenda. Progress moves us all forward. We’ll be delivering this message to the Prime Minister and his cabinet at our meeting today on First Nations priorities.”

National Chief Bellegarde and AFN Regional Chiefs are meeting with the Prime Minister and senior cabinet ministers this afternoon consistent with commitments under the AFNCanada Memorandum of Understanding on Joint Priorities. The meeting was scheduled prior to the announcement of today’s cabinet shuffle.

National Chief Bellegarde noted some changes to key portfolios dealing with the First Nations agenda.

“I look forward to meeting with the new Minister of Indigenous Services Seamus O’Regan and the new Attorney General David Lametti as soon as possible,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “We lift up the work of former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould as the first Indigenous Justice Minister and her efforts to bring a First Nations perspective to Canada’s legal system. I look forward to our continued work together in her new role as Minister of Veterans Affairs. Justice for First Nations veterans has been a long-standing priority for me and for the AFN. I’m honoured to have worked with the new Treasury Board President Jane Philpott and acknowledge all her efforts as Minister of Indigenous Services. Her openness and commitment to working together is a positive example for all governments.”

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates