December 11, 1998

The National Chief of Canada’s Assembly of First Nations, Phil Fontaine, today called on the hemisphere’s countries to actively support the participation of their own indigenous peoples in hemispheric events to be held in Canada over the next few years. This would make the events the "foundation of a successful new millennium for all indigenous peoples and nations of the Americas."

Canada will host a number of hemispheric gatherings, including the Pan American Games, the First Ladies Summit, a ministerial trade meeting and the OAS General Assembly in the year 2000. It is also expected to host the next Summit of the Americas.

Mr. Fontaine told the Organization of American States (OAS) Permanent Council that his group wanted to stronger ties with indigenous peoples all across the Americas. "We feel the time has now arrived to restore and to strengthen our relations with all indigenous peoples of the Americas," he told the hemisphere’s ambassadors. The objective, he said, is to mutually develop cultural, social and economic cooperation.

"On the same basis, we want to develop positive links with the national and local governments, the private sector and appropriate public institutions throughout North, Central and South America , including the Caribbean region." Chief Fontaine urged the OAS to take a prominent role in promoting those relations.

Other topics taken up by the Permanent Council session included an address by Jamaica’s Attorney General A.J. Nicholson on the death penalty situation; a report on the OAS electoral observer mission to Panama; the recent meeting of experts preparing for next year’s Sixth Inter-American Specialized Conference on Private International Law; a report on the Second Inter-American Conference on Terrorism held in Argentina.