November 15, 2018 (Ottawa, ON) – The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP) is calling for a hard reset on the federal engagement for the Recognition and Implementation of the Indigenous Rights Framework.
The government has stated the rights and recognition legislation will not go forward this fall as previously committed and therefore, will not be tabled before the next election. Engagement sessions on the framework led by Minister Bennett of Crown-Indigenous Relations have been ongoing across the country over the past year with Indigenous organizations and peoples, but the Congress and its provincial and territorial affiliates have been left out of the process.
“Our communities of Métis, status and non-status Indians, and Southern Inuit Indigenous People across Canada continue to be excluded from the government-led engagement on this critical legislation”, stated National Chief Robert Bertrand, “We have reached out to both the Prime Minister and Minister several times to work with CAP and our affiliates to gear specific consultation sessions to our off-reserve and non-status Indigenous peoples. We continue to await a response”.
In August, CAP’s affiliate, the Native Council of Prince Edward Island (NCPEI) was told the Minister did not have time to meet with them when she was hosting sessions in the province as part of the national engagement tour. “We were very disappointed by this missed opportunity for the Minister to hear from our peoples”, said Lisa Cooper, President of NCPEI. “Our community is going to be affected by this framework and we need to be a part of the discussion”.
The Congress believes all Indigenous people must be consulted on the recognition and implementation of Indigenous rights. In 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada’s unanimous decision in Daniels v. Canada was a landmark victory for CAP giving clarity that Métis and non-status Indians fall under the federal government’s jurisdiction and fiduciary duty. In line with this responsibility, the federal government must meaningfully deal with their distinct issues as the most disenfranchised, marginalized populations in Canada.
“Our grassroots community must have the opportunity to participate”, concluded Chief Bertrand, “this is the time for the government to take a hard look at the work they’ve done, the discrimination that’s been a part of the process they’re leading, and come to the table for real consultation with the Congress and our provincial and territorial affiliates”.
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The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples is the national voice representing the interests of Métis, status and non-status Indians, and Southern Inuit Indigenous People living off-reserve. Today, over 70% of Indigenous people live off-reserve.