A Plan to Break the Cycle of Poverty
in New Brunswick’s First Nations Communities

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November 13, 2012

First Nations Chiefs Launch Plan to Restore Hope and Combat Poverty in NB First Nations Communities

Fredericton, NB – The Assembly of First Nations Chiefs in New Brunswick (AFNCNB) today launched a 10-point plan aimed at restoring hope and combating the deep levels of poverty that exist within New Brunswick’s 15 First Nations communities.

“Of the 10 poorest postal codes in Canada, seven of them are in New Brunswick First Nations communities,” said Chief George Ginnish, Co-Chair of the AFNCNB and Chief of the Natoaganeg (Eel Ground) First Nation.

“A child born in a First Nations community is twice as likely to live in poverty, four times more likely to drop out of school, eight times more likely to be unemployed, and nine times as likely to know prison or addiction compared to a non-First Nations child down the street,” he added.

“We can – and must – rewrite this story.”

Called Restoring Hope for First Nations: A Plan to Break the Cycle of Poverty in New Brunswick’s First Nations Communities, the chiefs have focused on three goals to help lift their communities out of poverty: creating partnerships and opportunities for economic development; helping First Nations people find and keep meaningful work; and attacking the root causes of poverty through education and social assistance reform.

The plan includes 10 change initiatives, from the organization of a First Nations economic summit and the creation of First Nations enterprise zones to help foster economic development, to the creation of a First Nations arts and interpretation institute and an agenda for life-long learning to help people find and keep meaningful work. The plan also calls for the creation of a First Nations community education act and a First Nations governance institute – initiatives designed to promote autonomy and equality, two principles necessary for long-term community sustainability.

“First Nations chiefs have come to the table and are eager to lead the changes needed to literally save our communities,” said Chief Stewart Paul, Ambassador of the AFNCNB and Chief of the Neqotkuk (Tobique) First Nation. “But we cannot do it alone. We must continue to partner with all levels of government, business and non-First Nations communities to make a difference.

“This is mission critical to the future of our people,” he added. “New Brunswick’s First Nations will benefit, and as a result the province will benefit.”

The plan’s targets include 1,000 net new jobs in First Nations communities, a 30% increase in post-secondary participation rates among First Nations youth, and social assistance usage decline – all by 2017.