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Assembly of First Nations

Assembly of First Nations

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The Assembly of First Nations (AFN), formerly known as the National Indian Brotherhood, is a body of First Nations
First Nations
First Nations is a term that collectively refers to various Aboriginal peoples in Canada who are neither Inuit nor Métis. There are currently over 630 recognised First Nations governments or bands spread across Canada, roughly half of which are in the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia. The...

 leaders in Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

. The aims of the organization are to protect the rights, treaty obligations, ceremonies, and claims of citizens of the First Nations in Canada.

National Indian Brotherhood


After the failures of the League of Indians in Canada in the interwar period
Interwar period
Interwar period can refer to any period between two wars. The Interbellum is understood to be the period between the end of the Great War or First World War and the beginning of the Second World War in Europe....

 and the North American Indian Brotherhood in two decades following the Second World War, the Aboriginal peoples of Canada organized themselves once again in the early 1960s. The National Indian Council was created in 1961 to represent Indigenous people, including Treaty/Status Indians, non-status people, the Métis people, though not the Inuit
Inuit
The Inuit are a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic regions of Canada , Denmark , Russia and the United States . Inuit means “the people” in the Inuktitut language...

. This organization, however, also collapsed in 1968 as the three groups failed to act as one, so the non-status and Métis groups formed the Native Council of Canada and Treaty/Status groups formed the National Indian Brotherhood (NIB), an umbrella group for provincial and territorial
Provinces and territories of Canada
The provinces and territories of Canada combine to make up the world's second-largest country by area. There are ten provinces and three territories...

 First Nations organizations. The NIB was a national First Nations political body which lobbied for changes to federal and provincial policies.

The following year, the NIB launched its first major campaign in opposition to the 1969 White Paper
1969 White Paper
The 1969 White Paper was a Canadian policy document in which then Minister of Indian Affairs, Jean Chrétien, proposed the abolition of the Indian Act, the rejection of land claims, and the assimilation of First Nations people into the Canadian population with the status of other ethnic minorities...

, in which the Minister of Indian Affairs
Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (Canada)
The Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development is the Minister of the Crown in the Canadian Cabinet who heads two different departments...

, the Hon. Jean Chrétien
Jean Chrétien
Joseph Jacques Jean Chrétien , known commonly as Jean Chrétien is a former Canadian politician who was the 20th Prime Minister of Canada. He served in the position for over ten years, from November 4, 1993 to December 12, 2003....

  proposed the abolition of the Indian Act of Canada, the rejection of land claims, and the assimilation of First Nations people into the Canadian population with the status of other ethnic minorities rather than a distinct group.
On June 3, 1970, the NIB presented the response by Harold Cardinal
Harold Cardinal
Dr. Harold Cardinal was a Cree writer, political leader, teacher, negotiator and lawyer.Dr. Harold Cardinal was a Cree writer, political leader, teacher, negotiator and lawyer.Dr...

 and the Indian Chiefs of Alberta (entitled "Citizens Plus" but commonly known as the "Red Paper") to the Federal Cabinet
Cabinet of Canada
The Cabinet of Canada is a body of ministers of the Crown that, along with the Canadian monarch, and within the tenets of the Westminster system, forms the government of Canada...

. Prime Minister Trudeau
Pierre Trudeau
Joseph Philippe Pierre Yves Elliott Trudeau, , usually known as Pierre Trudeau or Pierre Elliott Trudeau, was the 15th Prime Minister of Canada from April 20, 1968 to June 4, 1979, and again from March 3, 1980 to June 30, 1984.Trudeau began his political career campaigning for socialist ideals,...

 and the Liberals
Liberal Party of Canada
The Liberal Party of Canada , colloquially known as the Grits, is the oldest federally registered party in Canada. In the conventional political spectrum, the party sits between the centre and the centre-left. Historically the Liberal Party has positioned itself to the left of the Conservative...

 began to back away from the White paper, particularly after the Calder case
Calder v. British Columbia (Attorney General)
Calder v. British Columbia [1973] S.C.R. 313, [1973] 4 W.W.R. 1 was a decision by the Supreme Court of Canada. It was the first time that Canadian law acknowledged that aboriginal title to land existed prior to the colonization of the continent and was not merely derived from statutory law.In...

 decision in 1973.

In 1972, the NIB's policy paper "Indian Control of Indian Education" was generally accepted by federal government and the NIB gained national recognition for the issue of Indigenous education in Canada. Undoubtedly, this was one of the last steps in ending the Canadian Residential School System
Canadian residential school system
-History:Founded in the 19th century, the Canadian Indian residential school system was intended to assimilate the children of the Aboriginal peoples in Canada into European-Canadian society...

 long opposed by indigenous people, but also a first step in the push for Indigenous self-governance.

The NIB gained consultative status
Consultative Status
Consultative Status is a phrase whose use can be traced to the founding of the United Nations and is used within the UN community to refer to "Non-governmental organizations in Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council." Also some international organizations could...

 with the United Nations Economic and Social Council
United Nations Economic and Social Council
The Economic and Social Council of the United Nations constitutes one of the six principal organs of the United Nations and it is responsible for the coordination of the economic, social and related work of 14 UN specialized agencies, its functional commissions and five regional commissions...

 in 1974, until such time as an international Indigenous organization could be formed. When the World Council of Indigenous Peoples
World Council of Indigenous Peoples
The World Council of Indigenous Peoples was a formal international body dedicated to having concepts of aboriginal rights accepted on a worldwide scale...

 was formed on Nuu-chah-nulth territory the following year, it took the place of the NIB at the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

.

The NIB, however, was not without its problems. The structure of the organization created the most apparent point of dispute. It was created with the intention of representing a large number of sometimes disparate non-governmental organization
Non-governmental organization
A non-governmental organization is a legally constituted organization created by natural or legal persons that operates independently from any government. The term originated from the United Nations , and is normally used to refer to organizations that do not form part of the government and are...

s, but could not necessarily claim to be representative of all the bands and nations in Canada. Toward the end of the 1970s, this criticism became increasingly prominent, and became particularly glaring during protests against the patriation
Patriation
Patriation is a non-legal term used in Canada to describe a process of constitutional change also known as "homecoming" of the constitution. Up until 1982, Canada was governed by a constitution that was a British law and could be changed only by an Act of the British Parliament...

 of the Canadian Constitution. In response, the NIB attempted to transform itself into a truly representative body, and changed its name to the Assembly of First Nations in 1982. The Assembly was organized so as to be accountable to all First Nations in Canada. The new structure was formally adopted in July 1985, as part of the Charter of the Assembly of First Nations.

On September 1, 1994 Ovide Mercredi
Ovide Mercredi
Ovide William Mercredi, OM is an Aboriginal Canadian politician. He is Cree and a former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations....

, Chief of the AFN advised Federal government leaders that it must guarantee the rights of Aboriginal people in Quebec in the event of disunion.
On July 16m 2003, Phil Fontaine
Phil Fontaine
Larry Phillip Fontaine, OM is an Aboriginal Canadian leader. He completed his third and final term as National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations in 2009....

 Chief of the AFN advised "To the goverts of Canada, I say to you, sometimes we will be pulling in the same directions, but we will always be there."

Principal organs

  • The First Nations-in-Assembly.
  • The Confederacy of Nations.
  • The Executive Committee.
  • The Secretariat
  • The Council of Elders.

Chiefs of the Assembly of First Nations

  • 1968–1970 – Walter Dieter
    Walter Dieter
    Walter Perry Dieter, was a Canadian First Nations leader. He was the founding chief of the National Indian Brotherhood in 1968, which is today known as the Assembly of First Nations....

  • 1970–1976 – George Manuel
    George Manuel
    George Manuel, OC was an Aboriginal leader in Canada. In the 1970s, he was chief of the National Indian Brotherhood .-Biography:...

  • 1976–1980 – Noel Starblanket
    Noel Starblanket
    Noel Starblanket is a First Nations leader in Canada. For two terms from 1976 to 1980 he was chief of the National Indian Brotherhood ....

  • 1980–1982 – Delbert Riley
    Delbert Riley
    Delbert Riley is a Canadian First Nations leader of Chippewa background. He was chief of the National Indian Brotherhood from 1980 to 1982....

  • 1982–1985 – David Ahenakew
    David Ahenakew
    David Ahenakew was a Canadian First Nations politician, and former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations.Ahenakew was born at the Sandy Lake Indian Reserve in Saskatchewan...

  • 1985–1991 – Georges Erasmus
    Georges Erasmus
    Georges Henry Erasmus, OC is a Canadian Aboriginal politician. He was the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations from 1985 to 1991....

  • 1991–1997 – Ovide Mercredi
    Ovide Mercredi
    Ovide William Mercredi, OM is an Aboriginal Canadian politician. He is Cree and a former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations....

  • 1997–2000 – Phil Fontaine
    Phil Fontaine
    Larry Phillip Fontaine, OM is an Aboriginal Canadian leader. He completed his third and final term as National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations in 2009....

  • 2000–2003 – Matthew Coon Come
    Matthew Coon Come
    Matthew Coon Come is a Canadian politician and activist of Cree descent. He was National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations from 2000 to 2003.Born near Mistissini, Quebec, Coon Come was first educated in a residential school...

  • 2003–2009 – Phil Fontaine
    Phil Fontaine
    Larry Phillip Fontaine, OM is an Aboriginal Canadian leader. He completed his third and final term as National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations in 2009....

  • 2009–present – Shawn Atleo
    Shawn Atleo
    Shawn A-in-chut Atleo is a Canadian First Nations activist and the current national chief of the Assembly of First Nations. Formerly the AFN's regional chief in British Columbia, he was selected as the new national chief of the AFN at its leadership convention on July 23, 2009, defeating Perry...


See also


  • Assembly of First Nations leadership conventions
    Assembly of First Nations leadership conventions
    Assembly of First Nations leadership elections are held every three years to elect the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations. Each chief of a First Nation in Canada is eligible to cast a vote. Currently there are 633 eligible voters.AFN rules state that a candidate needs 60% of the...

  • Congress of Aboriginal Peoples
    Congress of Aboriginal Peoples
    Congress of Aboriginal Peoples founded in 1971 as the Native Council of Canada, is a Canadian aboriginal organization, that represents Aboriginal Peoples who live off Indian reserves, either in urban and rural areas across Canada.Each CAP affiliate has its own constitution and is separately...


External links