NIAGARA FALLS, ON – Two agreements were signed today during the first day of the Assembly of First Nations’ 37th Annual General Assembly (AGA) in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, and the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Perry Bellegarde, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to work together to develop a new fiscal relationship.

The MOU will immediately initiate a process by which Canada and First Nations will jointly design and establish sufficient, predictable and sustained funding for First Nations communities – eliminating the previous 2 percent cap in federal funding.

“Today we turn the page on fiscal policies of underfunding and neglect as we begin the work required to support First Nations in establishing a new fiscal relationship with Canada,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “First Nations have suffered for 20 years under a punishing two percent cap on annual funding increases, resulting in a growing gap in our quality of life compared to the rest of the country. This historic agreement will establish a new working relationship and contribute to stronger and more self-sufficient economies, better social infrastructure and healthier First Nations communities.”

“The Government of Canada is committed to establishing a new fiscal relationship with First Nations based on the recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership. With the signing of this Memorandum of Understanding, we are establishing a process with the Assembly of First Nations to achieve this goal and eliminate disparities and inequities in the socio-economic conditions between First Nations and other Canadians. The initiative announced today is another step towards the renewal of our relationship with our Indigenous partners,” said  Minister Bennett.

Also today, National Chief Bellegarde and RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson signed an agreement to promote relationship building and reconciliation between First Nations and the RCMP.

The Relationship Building Protocol includes joint commitments to develop systems to effectively address discrimination and racism in the RCMP, enhance respect for the fundamental rights of First Nations people, and to ensure public safety without discrimination.

“Today’s signing represents an important commitment to improve relations and advance reconciliation between First Nations and the RCMP,” said AFN National Chief Bellegarde. “I lift up Commissioner Paulson for his willingness to work together on healing, relationship building, enhanced cultural awareness and anti-discrimination training.”

The Protocol Agreement was jointly developed to promote relationship building and provide ways for interested First Nations to work with the RCMP as they see fit. The protocol commits the AFN and the RCMP to support action to address the safety and security of Indigenous women and girls. The protocol includes plans to develop appropriate recruiting strategies for First Nations individuals interested in the RCMP as a career of choice, and First Nations involvement in the continued development of cultural awareness and anti-discrimination training to members of the RCMP.

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