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The National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations is pleased the issues facing his people were made a priority in Friday's Throne Speech and he hopes work with the government can now begin to address matters of shared concern.

"I would have perhaps liked the Speech from the Throne to include a first nations-Crown gathering," Shawn Atleo said in a telephone interview after Governor-General David Johnston laid out the Conservative agenda.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper signalled in writing last December that he was interested in holding such a gathering but so far no date has been set.

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"We are still getting positive signals, even as of today in fact, that they remain open to that," Mr. Atleo said.

Overall, the AFN chief said, it was important for the government to signal a commitment to improve on-reserve education.

In the Throne Speech, Mr. Johnston said the government would engage with partners "to make concrete, positive changes to give first nations children a better education so that they can realize their dreams. We will also expand adult basic education programming in the territories to help to increase education and employment levels."

The speech emphasized the importance of aboriginal peoples to future prosperity and said concerted action is needed to address the barriers to social and economic participation that many aboriginal Canadians face.

"Our Government will work with Aboriginal communities, provinces and territories to meet this challenge," Mr. Johnston said. "It will help open the door to greater economic development by providing new investments in First Nations Land Management. It will promote access to clean water and the deployment of clean energy technology in Aboriginal and northern communities."

Mr. Atleo said he was planning in the very near future to talk with Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan to set out an agenda for change and discuss a possible summit with Mr. Harper.

"It's a matter now of seeing if we can't break the pattern on unilateralism and having it being a one-way coming from Ottawa to first nations," he said.

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