Calgary, AB – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) representatives have signed a joint Letter of Understanding (LOU) formalizing a collaborative approach to supporting First Nations Veterans.
First Nations Veterans Chairperson Veteran Percy Joe attended a letter signing ceremony as a step forward in jointly working on the Priority Areas of Focus outlined in the LOU. The priorities are:
- Assess and expand outreach activities for First Nations Veterans and their families
- Establish clear points of contact for First Nations Veterans matters at VAC
- Increase Indigenous representation in Commemoration activities
- Support the establishment of a historical record of First Nations Veterans and soldiers who have served in times of war, military conflict and peace, including those undocumented by Canada.
The AFN Veterans Council represents all First Nations Veterans within Canada and the United States, as well as First Nations Veterans within the RCMP, DND and First Nations Peacekeeper societies. They have been mandated through Resolution 02/2020 to engage VAC to advance Reconciliation and healing.
“Today is a first step forward in developing a working relationship which will help create a positive working environment, we hope that our partner in this process, Veterans Affairs Canada will feel equally motivated towards creating a relationship which helps us move forward in a good way.“ Percy Joe, AFN Veterans Council Chairperson
“I’m thankful to everyone who helped us get here. This is an example of how working alongside each other can make a positive difference. Without the knowledge, wisdom and lived experience the Assembly of First Nations has shared, we wouldn’t be here today. We are building a path together. And we will move forward along that path together – to serve and commemorate First Nations Veterans – as they so rightly deserve.” The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence
Both parties remain dedicated to ensuring culturally relevant resources are the foundation of their efforts by improving the knowledge of important history, culture, practices and the specific (and perhaps unique) needs of First Nations Veterans.
AFN NWT Regional Chief Gerald Antoine, Dene Nation was present for the signing, “One of our Family’s two priorities is relationship, specifically with the land, ourselves, and others. Today, is another step forward to align with this understanding through this commitment between Veterans Affairs Canada and our First Nations Veterans. This step lays out the support and assistance to respond collaboratively to the specific needs of the Original Nations’ Veterans, their families, and their overall well-being”.
The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is a national advocacy organization that works to advance the collective aspirations of First Nations individuals and communities across Canada on matters of national or international nature and concern. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.
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