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Observations on AFN Renewal Commission Aug 20 04

Observations on AFN Renewal Commission Aug 20 04

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Published by Russell Diabo
A note I did on this AFN body whose report & recommendations were never implemented by the Chiefs.
A note I did on this AFN body whose report & recommendations were never implemented by the Chiefs.

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Published by: Russell Diabo on Jul 14, 2013
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02/17/2014

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[NOTE: The Report & Recommendations were never acted on when released in 2005]Observations on the Creation of the AFN Renewal Commission
 
By Russell DiaboAugust 20, 2004
 
Phil Fontaine included as part of his election platform “making AFN relevant”. Fontaineannounced the establishment of the AFN Renewal Commission in December 2003. Therewere requests put to regions for nominations as “Commissioners”.
 
But in the end there was no Resolution from the Chiefs-in-Assembly, the AFN Confederacy,or the even the AFN Executive Committee authorizing the mandate of the AFN RenewalCommission. This is a breach of at least the following Articles of the AFN Charter:
PRINCIPLES  ARTICLE 2
  First Nations, in the pursuit of the ideals stated in Article 1, shall subscribe to and  maintain these Principles:
 1. First Nations involved in diplomatic and political relations within the Assembly of First Nations recognize that collective political power and action is a practicalimperative for the preservation and integrity of the right of self-determination for eachFirst Nation.2. In order to achieve political solidarity, diplomatic and political relations between First  Nations involved in the Assembly of First Nations shall be characterized by the principlesof coexistence and diversity.3. The purpose, authority, responsibilities and jurisdiction of the Assembly of First  Nations shall be derivative in nature and scope. All actions or initiatives in excess of thedelegation from First Nations shall be null and void and of no force or effect.4. All delegated power, mandates or responsibility derive from the sovereignty of First  Nations; and the persons or institutions entrusted to exercise such delegation have asacred trust and duty, in performance, to comply strictly with the nature and quality of the delegation.5. The Assembly of First Nations shall remain at all times an instrument to advance theaspirations of First Nations and shall not become greater in strength, power, resourcesor jurisdiction than the First Nations for which it was established to serve.6. Any decision or direction on a subject matter of a fundamental nature that may affect the jurisdiction, rights and survival of First Nations, may be undertaken as a national or 
 
 2
international matter provided the First Nations-in-Assembly have reached a consensus togrant delegated power, mandate or responsibility to the Assembly of First Nations. Whenall efforts at achieving a consensus have. been exhausted without a success, a positivevote of 60% of the Chiefs and other designated representatives of First Nations shall besufficient for the Assembly of First Nations to undertake any subject matter of a nationalor international matter.7. The resources allocated to the Assembly of First Nations Secretariat shall bedistributed and utilized for the great benefit of all Member First Nations in efforts that are truly in form and substance national in scope and for which consensus has beenachieved by the member First Nations. ROLE AND FUNCTION  ARTICLE 3
The role and function of the Assembly of First Nations is:
 a) To be a national delegated forum for determining and harmonising effective collectiveand co-operative measures on any subject matters which the First Nations delegate for review, study, response or action.b) To be a national delegated forum of First Nations which, by virtue of their sovereignty,are the sole legitimate source for what it is, does or may become in the future.c) To be a national delegated forum for the purpose of advancing the aspirations of First  Nations and to remain subordinate in strength power and resources to the First Nations jurisdiction for which it is established to serve.d) To perform and adhere strictly, as a sacred trust and duty, to the nature, scope and extent of the delegation granted from time to time by First Nations.e) To seek, utilize and distribute resources for the greater benefit of all First Nations inendeavours that are truly in form and substance national or international in nature and scope and for which delegation has been granted by First Nations. MEMBERSHIP ARTICLE 4 All First Nations in Canada have the right to be Members of the Assembly of First  Nations.
 
Section 8 of the AFN Renewal Commission’s Terms-of-Reference, which hasn’t been dulyauthorized or approved by a valid Resolution from any of AFN Chartered bodies (Assembly,
 
 3Confederacy, Executive), asserts that “
any amendments to these terms of reference must beapproved by all AFNRC Commissioners
”.
 
Despite the assertion that the AFN Renewal Commission is an “arms length body that willoperate in a truly transparent, open and accountable process”, the appointment of the AFNRenewal Commission Co-Chairs, seems arbitrary and are probably based upon political debtsowed by Fontaine to the First Nations Summit, and to Joe Miskokomon for Joe’s assistancein Fontaine’s election campaign. I believe Miskokomon was also on Fontaine’s transitionteam.
 
The other Commissioners also appear to be from groups/regions where Fontaine wassupported in his candidacy as National Chief. In any case, as was evident at the AFN-AGA inCharlottetown, there are Chiefs in different regions (Ontario, Manitoba, Quebec) who feelthat they weren’t adequately consulted on the appointments of the Renewal Commissioners.
 
Some of the Commissioners are from regions where Fontaine didn’t have a lot of support, soindividuals were named from Women’s, Off-Reserve groups, as an attempt to broaden thecomposition of the Renewal Commission to include these groups, the individuals were probably chosen because of their support for Fontaine, although admittedly it is difficult to prove this.
 
In addition to the deficiencies of the nomination process, and any political bias the AFNRenewal Commissioners may have in favour of the incumbent National Chief, the “armslength” notion is negated by section 3 d) of the Terms-of-Reference, which provides that theRenewal Commission will “
 provide recommendations to the AFN Executive on specificissues that can be implemented without changes to the governing instruments of AFN and  NIB
”. Again, the Renewal Commission should be have been duly authorized by the Chiefs-in-Assembly and reporting back with recommendation about interim changes to the Chiefsdirectly, not the AFN Executive, after all, it is a Chiefs’ organization. This is another breachof the AFN Charter articles cited above.
 
At this point AFN is just one of a number of “national institutions” that the federalgovernment is using to advance their assimilationist-termination policy objectives. The AFNRenewal Commission received about $1.5 million from the federal government without havea valid resolution from any of the AFN Charter bodies.
 
The Martin Liberal government is using Phil Fontaine, and AFN, as part of their “cooperative collaboration” approach in building “relationships” with First Nations. The“national institutions” on governance and fiscal institutions will continue to be funded outside of any AFN approved mandate. Fontaine is promoting a “national institution” onhousing. All of these “national institutions” will also have some impact on local and regionalFirst Nation-Crown political-legal-fiscal relations.
 
The AFN Renewal Commission is to table a report and recommendations by the summer of 2005. This time-frame parallels the federal government’s legislative and budgetary processes.

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