February 17, 2012
Assembly of First Nations
473 Albert Street, Suite 900
Ottawa, ON K1R 5B4
Attention: National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo
Dear National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo:
Many within the National Association of Japanese Canadians (NAJC) are concerned about the poor living, housing conditions and educational opportunities of aboriginal people in Attawapiskat and other First Nations communities. We are dismayed by the crisis situation that has occurred in communities as a result of the breakdown between the Federal government and First Nations government relations.
The Crown-First Nations Gathering in January 2012 was an encouraging step to repairing and reinvigorating a new relationship. We are encouraged to see a Joint Action Plan to address specific issues raised prior to and during the meeting. Perhaps a positive sign was the Government agreement to a new funding model with the First Nations Education Steering Committee in British Columbia. We hope that we can all look forward to continued progress to positive relations between First Nations and the Crown and concrete steps to address the concerns of aboriginal peoples.
The mandate of NAJC includes promoting and encouraging “Japanese Canadians to work together on matters of concern to all Canadians and undertake collective action for a better Canada and a world free from racism, poverty, inequality and war.” Our mandate encourages our members to become involved in collective action for the betterment of all peoples.
The NAJC aims to educate our own members about the issues facing First Nations communities. Like other Canadians, many of our members lack a deep understanding of the history of aboriginal peoples in Canada and the discriminatory policies of government that they have faced.
We would welcome the opportunity to explore ways with aboriginal communities in which our members and our Association might continue to better educate ourselves about current aboriginal issues and better support aboriginal peoples working to create healthy, vibrant and sustainable communities. We look forward to hearing from you in this regard so that we may stand together in matters that impact all of us in Canada. We believe a collective approach will support the changes your community is seeking.
Ken Noma, President, NAJC
Lillian Nakamura Maguire, Chair,
NAJC Human Rights Committee
Copied to: The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada
The Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development