Nishnawbe Aski Nation

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June 13, 2016

NAN YOUTH PRESENT DECLARATION TO PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA

OTTAWA, ON (June 13, 2016): A delegation of youth from across Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) territory presented a declaration to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that asserts their rights as Indigenous People during a historic meeting in Ottawa today.

“This is the first time a delegation of our youth had an opportunity to speak directly with a Canadian Prime Minister to outline the challenges in their lives and express their expectations of the Government of Canada and I am honoured to be part of this momentous occasion,” said NAN Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler. “It is about time that the voices of our youth were heard in Ottawa I am pleased they were provided this historic opportunity.”

The declaration was presented to the Prime Minister following a meeting with 22 NAN youth who spoke directly and openly about the challenges they face as Indigenous youth.

“Our youth are faced with overwhelming issues and are desperate for a sense of hope and certainty that these challenges can be overcome and their lives will improve,” said Mushkegowuk Council Grand Chief Jonathan Solomon. “Our youth are standing up and I am proud to stand with them to express their hopes and expectations directly to the Prime Minister of Canada.”

NAN youth face a multitude of problems that stem from colonial practices from the Indian Residential School system and identity genocide. The declaration demands long-term and positive solutions that create change for safe environments in their communities so young people can connect with the land, speak their language and pursue academic careers that will help them lead happy, successful lives.

“Today the voices of Nishnawbe Aski Nation youth were clearly heard and warmly received by the Prime Minister and we were thrilled to present this declaration on behalf of NAN youth,” said Karla Kakagamic, a member of Keewaywin First Nation and the NAN Oshkaatisak (All Young People's) Council. “We are grateful the Prime Minister made time to speak with us about the adversity faced by young people across NAN territory. I hope NAN youth will continue to have a relationship with the Prime Minister and that this meeting will lead to action to improve the lives and well-being of our youth.”

The youth expressed hope that the declaration is the beginning of a relationship with the Prime Minister to work together to save lives and develop healthy communities.

“The people of Canada will never truly comprehend the problems and issues being faced by youth in northern and remote First Nations but I am proud to have the opportunity to explain challenges we are facing directly to the Prime Minister,” said Sky Koostachin, co-chair of the Attawapiskat Youth Council. “Many youth are filled with hopelessness and despair and my message to them is to not give up as you are never alone.”

While in Ottawa this week the youth will attend a variety of educational, cultural and social events including a youth roundtable with Members of Parliament, a meeting and tour of the Senate of Canada and an overview of the Aboriginal Studies department at Carleton University.

For more information please contact:
Michael Heintzman, NAN Director of Communications – (807) 621-2790 or mheintzman@nan.on.ca
Tamara Piche, NAN Communications Officer – (807) 621-5549 or tpiche@nan.on.ca.

To download release click here

To download declaration click here