The head of the Assembly of First Nations has called the assault of a six-year-old aboriginal girl near Edmonton shocking and sad.

"Our thoughts are first and foremost with this young girl and her familyā€ˇ, and we are hoping that she can begin her healing journey toward a full recovery," National Chief Perry Bellegarde said in a release.

"An arrest has been made, and the RCMP have stated that local citizens were very helpful in this case. We commend those efforts. We all have a role to play in protecting our children and ending violence against First Nations women and girls."

The six-year-old girl from Paul First Nation was attacked last weekend. She remains in hospital with serious injuries. 

James Clifford Paul, who is 21, was arrested on a nearby reserve and faces charges of attempted murder, aggravated sexual assault and kidnapping.

With files from CBC News