AFN annual assembly kicks off in Fredericton

The Assembly of First Nations will open its 40th annual general assembly in the Fredericton region on Tuesday.

First Nation leaders from across the country have descended upon the New Brunswick capital for the three-day event — a chance to discuss Indigenous issues and the challenges facing Canada and its relationship with First Nations.

Chief Elaine Johnston of Serpent River First Nation in Ontario was among the droves of delegates that arrived and registered for the conference Monday.

“It’s an opportunity for all the First Nation leaders to network and also talk about the future directions that we’d like to work on,” Johnston said.

She said she’s keen to discuss how newly passed federal legislation to overhaul the Indigenous child welfare system, known as Bill C-92, will affect her community. 

The oft-criticized legislation is listed among the issues for the afternoon discussion and resolutions session. The assembly will also discuss the environment and climate change; housing, water and emergency management; and the new Indigenous languages legislation, among other topics.

A pipe ceremony at 6 a.m. AT on St. Mary’s First Nation will open the annual general assembly, followed by an exchange of water ceremony. The opening ceremonies and official welcome will run from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Fredericton Convention Centre, home to most of the proceedings.

Carolyn Bennett, minister of Crown-Indigenous relations and northern affairs, will address the assembly at 1 p.m. before the discussion session begins.