The Assembly of First Nations has announced a $2.5 million poverty reduction project focused on creating sustainable First Nation economies.
“The single greatest challenge we collectively face is finding solutions that will make poverty history for all Canadians, no matter where they live,” said AFN National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo. “We know First Nation communities face a unique set of circumstances that require unique and innovative solutions.”
Atleo said an experts panel will carry out the research project, A Poverty Reduction Approach to Improving the Health and Well-Being of First Nation Communities, to provide leading edge information on the way forward.
“This is the kind of expertise we need to bring new approaches and new thinking to these complex issues which have held back First Nations and Canada for too long,” Atleo said. “This is important work for First Nations and all Canadians.”
The five-year study, which was proposed by the Assembly of First Nations’ Make Poverty History Expert Advisory Committee, will receive funding from the Institute of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health, part of the federal Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
“While we know poor health arises from a variety of factors such as poverty, colonization and migration, we also know there are a number of factors which contribute to healthy communities, such as an economic base, self-governance, relevant and culturally appropriate education, language, culture and control of the land,” said Dr. Malcolm King, an Ojibwe academic health researcher working at the University of Alberta and scientific director of IAPH.
The research team is planning to work with five volunteer First Nation communities on a research-based assessment to identify challenges, strengths, and opportunities.
A specific strategic plan will be implemented in each community, with an evaluation of the outcomes. The final results will ultimately be expanded to help reduce poverty in communities across the country.
Atleo said he hopes the study will strengthen the resolve for government, industry, and civil society to work together with First Nations in creating happy, healthy communities.
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