First Nations leaders say yesterday’s federal budget has positive steps for improving the lives of First Nations people.

“The budget begins to address decades of underfunding and neglect, which have perpetuated a growing gap in the quality of life between First Nations and other Canadians,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde in a press release.

“Creating the conditions for First Nations peoples to succeed, whether they live in the north, on reserve or in urban areas, is the best economic stimulus plan for Canada,” said National Chief Bellegarde.  “It will add billions to the economy and save billions more in social costs while creating a stronger, more just and prosperous country for us all.”

The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Executive is also optimistic by the Federal Government’s $8.4 billion investment into Indigenous peoples and is pleased with $2.6 billion earmarked for First Nations education.

“The $8.4 billion investment for Indigenous peoples is long overdue. These investments should have been made in the last 10 years,” said Chief Cameron. “In the long run, the investment on Indigenous people will begin the steps towards a healthier, stronger and educated First Nation population. We want our children to succeed in life and education is a big component in ensuring our children get that opportunity. The education investment will help our schools retain teachers and improve programming for First Nation children. We view this as a good start in our nation to nation relationship based on our Inherent and Treaty Rights.”

The Federal Budget announced $635 million over five years for First Nation Child Welfare. Chief Cameron says this falls short of expectations but views this as a starting point that will lead to improving the lives of First Nation children.

“This is a welcomed investment and we consider it an incremental step in addressing the disparity, inequality and funding deficiencies identified by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal,” said Chief Cameron. “We will continue working with the Federal Government on improving the quality of life for our First Nation children and families. We want to ensure our children build a good quality of life for themselves, and when they become adults and parents that those values, teachings, the ceremonies, the culture and traditions continue into the next generation.”

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