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In an historic meeting, leaders of CUPE and Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Grand Chief Shawn Atleo have pledged to work together in practical ways to get things done to improve social and economic conditions for First Nations people.

Atleo met June 17 with CUPE’s National Executive board—the first time a formal meeting between the two groups has taken place.  

“We really value our relationship with you,” Atleo says.  “We want to strengthen and explore how we can deepen it.” 

He sought CUPE’s support for efforts to boost post-secondary and skills training opportunities for First Nations youth, and to press the Harper government to ratify the UN charter on the rights of indigenous people.  Canada and the U.S are the only two states in the world that have refused to do so.

Meanwhile CUPE president Paul Moist says the union is proud to work with the AFN and Aboriginal groups on a range of issues including safe drinking water, employment opportunities and the attempted closure of Saskatchewan’s First Nations University.

And he outlined many ways that CUPE is opening the doors to our union to involve an increasing number of Aboriginal members.

“We feel very privileged to be able to meet with you and develop our relationship,” Moist told Atleo.