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Mandate For The Future

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      JULY/AUGUST 1994      v23 n06 p21  
Our treaties must be honored by Canadians and their governments. First Nations need to deal with the federal government on a Treaty by Treaty basis. The role of the AFN is to assist First Nations in establishing treaty implementation processes that honour the spirit and intent of their Treaties.

First Nations need to establish a National Round Table on Treaties to help initiate treaty implementation and to monitor the activities of the federal government. New treaties will also have to be protected within section 35. All existing federal policies that undermine aboriginal title and aboriginal rights must be abolished to ensure new Treaties result in the protection of our Aboriginal rights to land, resources, environment, water, sea, air, economy, culture, language and self-determination.

First Nations Must Preserve Our Special Nation To Nation Relationship Within Canada.

In addition independent mechanisms acceptable to the First Nations, are needed to ensure that negotiations regarding aboriginal title and self-determination in new Treaties, are conducted fairly, honestly and justly.

Bilateral Relations
First Nations must preserve our special nation to nation relationship with Canada. A bilateral process must be developed with the federal government to ensure our agenda is dealt with at the cabinet level of government. Any bilateral process must be on Nation to Nation basis and must complement treaty and aboriginal rights and the autonomy of first Nations.

Economic Developement
The AFN must work directly with First Nation resource and economic development leaders to help rebuild our economy and create jobs by ensuring:

* The federal goverment develops new fisheries and aquatic resource policies that are based on treaty and aboriginal rights;
* New international markets are found for trappers, fishermen, farmers and other economic interests;
* Interim protection measures are adopted for our future use of all renewable and non-renewable resources with our traditional territories;
* Financial instituions are informed and supportive of First Nations business and commercial goals and enterprises;
* First Nations goverments are able to utilize all existing and new financial resource to eliminate welfare dependency by creating jobs and economic developement opportunities in our communites and:
* First Nations students are fiven every opportunity to graduate from high school and carry on with career goals that lead to self-reliance.

All First Nations are confronted with health problems that require immediate attention. Healthy communities will provide First Nation citizens, particularly the young people, with greater hope and bigger future. First Nation leader at community levels must take steps to ensure that the federal government fulfills its treaty and fiduciary obligation for housing and their journey to wellness, by sharing information, healing strategies, resources and traditional knowledge for wellness.

Photo courtesy of Fine Lines Photographics Photo courtesy of Fine Lines Photographics
Photo courtesy of Fine Lines Photographics Photo courtesy of Fine Lines Photographics

Land, Resources and water
We need more land, resources and water to meet the expanding needs of our people and communities. The federal policies on land claims must be changed to ensure our aboriginal and treaty rights are recognized and accessible to all our people. An independent First Nations 'land rights' Commission needs to be established to ensure the current claims process does not prejudice First Nations. Treaties, in terms of spirit and intent, must also be implemented to ensure out jurisdiction over land, resources and water rights must become a more dominant priority in the next several years.

AFN Reorganization
Our national organization of chiefs requires reforms that will result in unity and power for our people. We need a strong organization that allows a greater role for First Nations Elders, youth, women and urban residents.

We Need A Strong Organization That Allows A Greater Role for First Nations' Elders, Youth, Women and Urban Residents.

The AFN charter needs to Nations' Territorial be amended to provide for integrity. We must ensure such participation without undermining the authority of the chiefs.

First Nations in Quebec need to support of all first Nations to protect their treaty and aboriginal rights. Separation threatens their rights to self-determination and undermines first that, in any talks on Canadian unity or Quebec separation, First Nations are equal participants as distinct nations. We must also voice our position on national unity and ensure that such future talks do not undermine our collective rights as distinct nations.

Preparing for 1997
In 1997, the Canadian Constitution is to be reviewed. We must ensure that any review does not prejudice our treaty and aboriginal rights. First Nations must seize this opportunity to strengthen the guarantees of our rights under section 35.