OTTAWA – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde met with Premiers in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador on Wednesday, and told the Premiers that governments must work together collaboratively with Indigenous peoples to close the gap in quality of life between First Nations and the rest of Canada.

“The operative words are action and implementation,“ said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. “There are positive developments underway in the provinces and territories but the federal government is the key player missing from the table. All of us here today want the federal government to honour its responsibilities and join us at these tables.”

During the meeting, National Chief Bellegarde recognized the efforts by Alberta Premier Rachel Notley to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Alberta, calling this an example of positive and constructive action that Premiers can take.

Priority action areas highlighted were energy and the economy, education, revitalization of Indigenous languages, ending violence against Indigenous women and girls and the overrepresentation of First Nations children in the child welfare system.

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Also discussed was a follow-up to the National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Manitoba will host the second Roundtable in 2016 and Ontario will provide coordination for tracking and furthering outcomes and commitments.  Alberta will lead development of a socio-economic action plan for Aboriginal women.

The Premiers also received a presentation from Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Commissioners Dr. Marie Wilson and Chief Wilton Littlechild on the TRC’s findings and Calls to Action. The Premiers agreed to examine how to implement the Calls to Action and to provide a collective response to the TRC.

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