First Nations in Special Interest Groups
First Nations Peoples, more than other Canadians, may have a vested interest in pursuing or joining an interest/pressure group. The needs and demands of particular First Nations are often not met by those who govern them. They have constant issues with regards to natural resources, interpretation of treaty, and funding from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, just to name a few. These issues, among others are taking place at not only the provincial level, but more so the federal level. This makes it vital to give all First Nations People an opportunity to belong to a group which may allow their voices to be heard.
At the municipal level Chiefs are elected to govern reserves. At the provincial level, here in Saskatchewan, we have the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations. At the federal level there is the Assembly of First Nations. An interest group which is an “organization that pursues the common interest of groups of people, particularly by trying to influence the making and implementation of public policies” is exactly what the Assembly of First Nations is.
This paper will discuss the AFN and how that particular interest group is beneficial to all First Nations across Canada. It will also discuss the problems that arise for such a group. And than it will end with the argument of why the AFN is good for all First Nations People and a summary of all points argued throughout the paper. Background of the AFN?
Prior to becoming the AFN, the group was known as the National Indian Brotherhood. This group disbanded form the previous National Indian Council and moved on with the Treaty and Status people forming the NIB. Early on in the late 1960’s, gaining recognition was troubling. It was difficult for all First Nations to get on the same page. But when the Federal Liberals revealed the White Paper in 1969, which called for the assimilation of all FN peoples into mainstream Canada, The NIB quickly re-organized to meet head-on the Liberal government. The NIB successfully defeated the White Paper and the strength and unity of the group was solidified. Despite the young age of the AFN, it has already been involved in some groundbreaking decisions which have impacted not only FN Peoples, but all Canadians. The AFN was part of The Meech Lake Accord of 1987, The Charlottetown Accord of 1992, and even the signing of the Free Trade Deal with the United States. Organizational Structure
Issues such as misrepresentation of all FN and gathering as large groups that allowed for all voices from each region to be heard proved difficult. In 1982, the Assembly of First Nations was formed to help circumvent such problems. The newly formed AFN would have leadership derived from the vast areas all across Canada into one council. This new council could now implement policies to the different regions. Becoming a driving voice for all FN Peoples and presenting a more unified front. This current structure that is held by the AFN was adapted in 1982, at meetings held in Penticton, British Columbia. Under this new structure there would now be an amendment clause, mechanisms for accountability, and a process for impeachment was to be included. A subcommittee which would be known as the Confederacy of Nations was also developed to oversee that the policies and direction of the AFN was upheld in between meetings every 3-4 months. It would now be known that “The intention of the Assembly of First Nations is to represent the needs and wishes of the several Indian Nations. Each of these Nations has territory and boundaries that reflect both its historical and contemporary geographical realities. Portfolios or standing councils, headed by a chairperson, are intended to develop policy to be recommended to the Confederacy and then to the Assembly and to oversee the implementation of policy laid down by the Assembly” The National Chief is currently Shawn A-in-chut Atleo. He is the voice and...
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