Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo
Credits: QMI AGENCY
OTTAWA - First Nations face a "life-and-death situation" and Canadians should call on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to take immediate action, Assembly of First Nation National Chief Shawn Atleo warned Thursday.
On the eve of a mass protest planned for Parliament Hill on Friday, a more-aggressive Atleo suggested his advocacy organization will carry out "legal, political and advocacy work required" to shine light on issues plaguing aboriginal communities.
"I really hope that at this moment that Canadians will join us, recognizing the dire urgency and call on the government and call on the prime minister. We are looking for his intervention," Atleo said.
Atleo said a lack of safe drinking water, the rate of violence against aboriginal women and "unilateral" legislative changes like the government's second omnibus budget bill are all concerns raised by a grassroots campaign called "Idle No More."
The campaign, which has caught fire on social media, is linked to a number of rallies and blockades across Canada in recent days.
"It is incredibly powerful movement. I believe what we have seen so far is just the start," Atleo said.
Atleo also made it clear his job is to advocate on behalf of First Nations and their treaty rights.
During his bid to obtain a second-term as AFN National Chief, some of Atleo's competitors criticized him for his approach to working with the feds.
"My job is not to follow the instructions or follow what it is that governments want," he said firmly.