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Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Reaffirms Call for the Withdrawal of Bill C-53

Press Release

(May 7, 2024 – Unceded Algonquin Territory, Ottawa, Ontario) – The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is reaffirming its call for the immediate withdrawal of Bill C-53, An act respecting the recognition of certain Métis governments in Alberta, Ontario, and Saskatchewan.

“First Nations were loud and clear about their concerns with Bill C-53, which fails to respect the perspectives and consultation requirements of the First Nations it would affect,” said National Chief Woodhouse Nepinak. “Bill C-53 must be withdrawn, in alignment with AFN Resolution 44/2023, Protect First Nations Rights and Interests from Unfounded Métis Rights Assertions. Further, the Government of Canada must properly engage and consult with First Nations rights holders to ensure the potential effects of any similar legislation on First Nations inherent, Treaty, and section 35 rights are considered.”

Over the past month, the AFN conducted a series of engagement sessions, mandated by AFN Resolution 81/2023, Urgent Protection of First Nations Inherent and Treaty Rights from Ongoing Illegitimate Rights Assertions, gathering insights from First Nations leaders and technicians on Bill C-53. These discussions have highlighted serious concerns about the lack of consultation in the development of Bill C-53, and the approach to similar legislation and agreements across Canada. The AFN also heard about the need for legislative processes to be inclusive and reflective of First Nations’ perspectives and rights.

“First Nations require a legislative process that respects our rights and includes us from the start. Any legislation or agreements must be developed in consultation with, and with the consent of, all First Nations whose rights may be affected. We call upon the Government of Canada to honour its obligations outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and its commitments to reconciliation and meaningful consultation, by withdrawing Bill C-53. We strongly encourage the Government of Canada and all relevant parties to reevaluate their approach to this and similar discussions, ensuring that First Nations are thoroughly consulted. If Canada is looking to achieve reconciliation, improved processes need to be in place. This is a critical moment for the Government of Canada to set a positive framework for how future legislation and self-government agreements are developed, demonstrating collaboration and proper consultation with First Nations to protect our rights and identities,” concluded National Chief Woodhouse Nepinak.

The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is a national advocacy organization that works to advance the collective aspirations of First Nations individuals and communities across Canada on matters of national or international nature and concern.

Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates

Contact information:

Jon Adam Chen
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
(343) 573-2229



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