Five thousand delegates are expected in
Vancouver at a historic meeting of the two biggest First Nations organizations in Canada and the U.S.

The Assembly of First Nations and U.S. National Congress of American Indians are planning their meeting in late July.

“There are many common issues related to land, access to resources, the treaty relationship, poverty-related issues, self-sufficiency and the like,” National Chief Phil Fontaine told reporters at a press conference. “It’s not good enough, in the common struggle that we’re engaged in, to confine ourselves domestically… Our issues must be elevated internationally,” he said.

The organizations want to find solid ways to work together, including the possibility of reciprocal ambassadors.

The U.S. organization represents 558 First Nations; the Canadian assembly, 633. The meeting will follow separate annual meetings for both organizations in Vancouver.