AFN national chief Atleo vents First Nations frustrations at Harper, Duncan

OTTAWA – The Assembly of First Nations is warning the prime minister that Canada’s aboriginal communities are at the end of their rope.

A sharply worded letter to Stephen Harper from AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo suggests the government’s bid to boost First Nations independence and prosperity, launched amid much fanfare in January, is collapsing.

The letter, sent last month along with a longer, more detailed version for Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan, was obtained by The Canadian Press.

It says Harper has made no progress on the issues he promised to address — education, comprehensive claims, treaty implementation, economic development and fiscal arrangements.

Instead, Atleo says Harper is continuing to push legislation and a fragmented agenda he knows First Nations will oppose, eroding what little trust existed between natives and the Crown.

Government insiders express similar frustrations with First Nations leaders, however, saying aboriginal communities themselves don’t have a clear, united idea of what they want.