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Assembly of First Nations


Assembly of First Nations

Assembly of First Nations
AFN Logo
Abbreviation AFN
Formation began emerging from the National Indian Brotherhood in 1978, eventually holding its first meeting in April 1982 in Penticton, British Columbia.
Headquarters Ottawa, Ontario
Region served
Official language
English, French
National Chief
Perry Bellegarde

The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is an

  • Assembly of First Nations
  • Continuing Negotiations: First Nations and the State — Historical essay, illustrated with photographs, drawings and artifacts

External links

  1. ^ "Consolidated Statement of Revenue and Expenses" (PDF). AFN Executive Committee Reports. 
  2. ^ a b Assembly of First Nations – The Story
  3. ^ McFarlane, Peter (1993). Brotherhood to nationhood : George Manuel and the making of the modern Indian movement. Toronto: Between the Lines.  
  4. ^ "First Nations Bill C-44" (PDF). The Assembly of First Nations. 
  5. ^ a b Pound, Richard W. (2005). 'Fitzhenry and Whiteside Book of Canadian Facts and Dates'. Fitzhenry and Whiteside. 
  6. ^ A Brief History of the Education of First Nations Children: What Should They Learn and How Should They Learn it?, Iram Khan
  7. ^ With an ear to the ground: The CCF/NDP and aboriginal policy in Canada, 1926–1993 Journal of Canadian Studies, Spring 1999 by Frank James Tester, Paule McNicoll, Jessie Forsyth
  8. ^ "Quebec regional Chief Picard takes interim AFN helm". APTN National News, July 16, 2014.


See also

Presidents of the Assembly of First Nations

Presidents of the National Indian Brotherhood

  • National Chief
  • First Nations-in-Assembly
  • The Executive Committee
  • Secretariat
  • Council of Elders

Principal organs

The AFN, which depends upon the federal government for most of its funding, has sometimes been accused of being obsequious, and not representative of the larger First Nations community.

In early 2013, documents revealed that the AFN had been operating in conjunction with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to provide information and conduct surveillance on members of the First Nations community. Documents acquired through access to information requests, reveal that heads of the RCMP, and the Ontario and Quebec provincial police met in the summer of 2007 with then AFN national chief Phil Fontaine to “facilitate a consistent and effective approach to managing Aboriginal protests and occupations.”

On September 1, 1994, Ovide Mercredi, Chief of the AFN, advised federal government leaders that it must guarantee the rights of Aboriginal people in Quebec in the event of disunion.[5]

Assembly of First Nations

The Chiefs held their first assembly as "the Assembly of First Nations" (AFN) in Penticton, British Columbia, in April 1982. The new structure was adopted in July 1985, as part of the Charter of the Assembly of First Nations.

This move coincided with Prime Minister Trudeau's announcement that Canada would patriate its constitution. The question arose as to what would happen with the Treaty and aboriginal rights that had been guaranteed by the Imperial Crown if Canada took over its own governance. Strong national leadership from the Chiefs became essential. The Chiefs formalized their governance structure, compromised by incorporating a "Confederacy" composed largely of the NIB leadership, and made the NIB, an incorporated body, its administrative secretariat. They used the United Nations General Assembly as a model in conceiving what the new Assembly of First Nations would become.

In 1978, in an effort to let the chiefs be heard, NIB President Noel Starblanket organized an "All Chiefs Conference" on "Indian Self-Government". The Chiefs were delighted with the opportunity, and at a second All Chief Conference, announced that hereafter, the All Chief Conference would be "the one and only voice of Indian people in Canada."

However, the NIB was not without its problems. Individual chiefs and regional groupings begin to chafe because their only access to the national scene was through their respective PTOs. The chiefs complained they were not being heard.

The NIB gained United Nations.

In 1973, the Calder case decision was issued.[7] "You have more rights than I thought you did," Prime Minister Trudeau told the NIB leaders.

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, long opposed by indigenous people, but also a first step in the push for indigenous self-governance.[2][6]

Supported by a churches, labour and other citizen groups, the NIB mounted massive opposition to the government plan. On June 3, 1970, the NIB presented the response by Harold Cardinal and the Indian Chiefs of Alberta (entitled "Citizens Plus" but commonly known as the "Red Paper") to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and ministers of his Cabinet. Startled by the strong opposition to the White Paper, the Prime Minister told the delegation the White Paper would not be imposed against their will.

The following year, the NIB launched its first major campaign in opposition to the 1969 White Paper, in which the 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 rather than a distinct group.

[5] The

National Indian Brotherhood

In July 1971, the "First National Native Women’s Conference" took place.

The evolution of organizations of aboriginal peoples soon rendered these criteria increasingly inapplicable. In British Columbia (BC), the Native Brotherhood had always represented both status and non-status Indians and the United Native Nations (established following the demise of the BC Association of Non-Status Indians) had aggressively asserted the same principle. Similarly, some of the BC tribal councils , the Council of Yukon Indians (CYI) and the Dene Nation rejected in principle the distinction between status and non-status Indians. This has led to a situation in which the then vice-president of the Native Council of Canada (for non-status people) was a status Indian, while the president of the CYI and the vice-president of the Dene Nation were non-status Indians at this time.

A report of the federal Interdepartmental Committee on Indian and Eskimo Policy in July 1971 formed the basis for the Secretary of State Core Funding program for native organizations approved by Cabinet. The government envisaged a neat package of three national aboriginal associations and one regional association per province or territory for each. An adjustment was made in the case of Ontario where Indians had already organized four associations on tribal and treaty lines. The objective was to assist groups “to communicate their needs and views effectively to all levels of government, to participate in the political, social and economic institutions of Canadian society, and to contribute to the development of aboriginal leadership.”

In 1970, George Manuel, Noel Doucette, Andrew Delisle, Omer Peters, Jack Sark, Dave Courchene, Roy Sam, Harold Sappier, Dave Ahenakew, Harold Cardinal and Roy Daniels incorporated the National Indian Brotherhood.

With the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs to oppose the new proposed policy.

In 1956, the Union of Saskatchewan Indians transformed itself into the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians. In 1965, the federation was incorporated by Walter Deiter, Henry Langan, Max Goodwill, Hilliard McNabb and Lucien Bruce. Its objective was to protect Indian treaties and treaty rights; to promote the welfare of the Indians of Saskatchewan, to foster progress in the economic development, education and social life of Indians; and to cooperate with civil and religious authorities in matters pertaining to Indian interests.

In 1948, the North American Indian Brotherhood was founded by Andy Paull as a national lobby group which urged extension of voting rights without loss of Indian rights, removal of liquor offences as a way of ending most of the criminal charges faced by Indian people, and advocating pensions and welfare for Indians on the same level as the Canadian population.

In 1946, after the Second World War, the Union of Saskatchewan Indians emerged from the Protective Association and a newly founded “Association of Saskatchewan Indians.”

A split took place in the League of Indians in 1938, and in 1939 the Indian Association of Alberta was formed. After the Second World War, the other faction formed “The Protective Association for Indians and Their Treaties” to advocate for native title and recognition of rights over traditional territories and resources.

In 1926, the Indian Defense League of America was formed by Chief Clinton Rickard of the Tuscarora Nation, with heavy involvement in US-Canadian border crossing problems faced by "Indians" in both countries. Rickard organized an annual celebration to assert border crossing rights, Indian rights generally, and respect for the value and dignity of indigenous culture.

After the First World War, the League of Indians in Canada was founded by a Mohawk veteran, Fred Ogilvie Loft (1862-1934). It became the antecedent of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations and Indian Association of Alberta.

The Grand Indian Council of Ontario and Quebec was established in 1870 composed primarily of Ojibway and Iroquois. In 1915, the Allied Tribes of B.C. was formed by Peter Kelly and Andrew Paull to seek treaties and adequate-size reserves.

The self-formation of political organizations of indigenous peoples of North America has been a constant process over many centuries—the Iroquois Confederacy and the Blackfoot Confederacy are two prominent pre-colonial examples. Other groups formed to enter into Treaties with colonial governments.



  • History 1
    • National Indian Brotherhood 1.1
    • Assembly of First Nations 1.2
  • Principal organs 2
  • Presidents of the National Indian Brotherhood 3
  • Presidents of the Assembly of First Nations 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


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