AFN meeting focuses on economic development
Economic development in Canada's First Nations will be a major source of debate at a summer meeting of the Assembly of First Nations in Moncton this week.
Representatives from 633 First Nations from across Canada will be gathering this week in southeastern New Brunswick and discussing the future of mining and exploration for oil and gas.
The future of hydraulic-fracturing, or hydro-fracking, has been a contentious issue in New Brunswick in recent months. A prominent First Nations leader has already called for a ban on the controversial mining practice.
Shawn Atleo, the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said First Nations must be consulted about mining and exploration opportunities around their communities and be involved in the process.
Atleo said communities should have the right to say no to mining or gas exploration near their lands.
But also said the First Nations communities also have the right to say yes and receive part of the profits from those activities.
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization that represents local communities, particularly with different levels of government.
The annual meeting is starting on Monday but it was kicked off by a motorcycle ride over the weekend.
Atleo led a motorcycle ride of chiefs from Ottawa to Moncton on the weekend, which served as a fundraiser to save aboriginal languages in Canada.
Atleo said almost all traditional languages are threatened in the country.
He said he remembers his father talking about attempts by teachers at his residential schools to make him speak English.
"Children, the likes of those that my father went to school with when he was five years old, would have their tongues pricked by those running the school in an attempt to sway them away from speaking the only language they knew," Atleo said.