, May 30, 2012 No Comments

Assembly of First Nations

The Story

The story of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is one that remains unknown to most Canadians. It is the story that is lived each day by the First Nations peoples of Canada. It is the story of a struggle for self-determination and human dignity. It is a story that must be told.

Many Canadians are unaware of the enormous problems that the First Nations peoples have faced on the road to political recognition in this country.

Few Canadians realize that the First Nations peoples are identified in the Constitution as one of the founding nations of Canada, along with the English and French. Few Canadians are aware that up until the 1983-87 First Ministers Conference on Aboriginal Rights, the First Nations People were excluded from taking part in the Constitutional developments of Canada. First Nations peoples have had to deal with conditions of extreme poverty and isolation, and vast geographical dispersion, within the tremendous diversity of aboriginal cultures, languages, and political ideologies. Improved communications and transportation have allowed First Nations Peoples to begin to talk to each other, to the rest of Canada, and to the rest of the world. These relatively recent developments have meant that the First Nations Peoples have had to work harder and faster in order to catch up with the federal and provincial governments in the fields of political knowledge, political reality, and especially in political expertise. The years of being excluded from Canada’s formal political process has left First Nations Peoples with an incredible void to fill just in order to attain a level of political, social, and legal knowledge that is on par with other groups in Canadian society.

Unfortunately, most Canadians are not aware of the many issues which brought about the need for First Nations Peoples to assert their rightful position in Canadian society. (Many are unaware of conditions that aboriginal people experience in Canada; in recent years such as, discrimination; exploitation; violations against basic human rights.) Furthermore, all of these infractions were/are grossly ignored and/or glossed over by standard Canadian history textbooks.

The past cannot be changed, but yesterday’s injustices can be corrected by today’s political leaders. The Assembly of First Nations exists to fulfill the goal of correcting these past injustices and to enhance the rightful position of the First Nations Peoples in Canada’s future. Considering the short time that the AFN has been in existence, significant progress has been made in the Canadian political arena, as witnessed by the First Ministers Conferences and constitutional exercises.

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