In communication directly from the Office of the Prime Minister yesterday, the date and location of a First Ministers’ Meeting and meeting with National Indigenous leaders was announced. First Ministers will meet with only leaders of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), and the Métis National Council (MNC), leaving out the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) and CAP.
“I wish I could say I was shocked by this news, but this is the third year CAP has been discriminated against”, states National Chief Bertrand, “how can Trudeau announce that he will meet with National Indigenous leaders, without also acknowledging his intention to leave the off-reserve and non-status community out of the conversation?”
On December 16, 2015, CAP participated in a round table meeting with the Prime Minister and other NIO leaders. At that time, the newly elected Prime Minister communicated clearly his intention to renew the relationship between Canada and Indigenous peoples. He also committed to annual meetings with NIO leaders from across the country.
CAP was then excluded from the First Ministers meetings on climate change and advancing reconciliation in 2016, and sustainable economic development in 2017. These are issues that affect all Indigenous peoples, and are of importance and interest to CAP.
In January 2017, National Chief Bertrand and representatives from CAP met with the Prime Minister and Minister Bennett, where another commitment was made to meet annually. After numerous requests for another meeting, and as 2018 is coming to a close, CAP has yet to receive a response on this request to meet with the Prime Minister.
In June, 2017, PM Trudeau stated that “no relationship is more important to Canada than the relationship with Indigenous Peoples”. National Chief Bertrand responds that “if the federal government continues to be selective with which Indigenous peoples deserve consultation and engagement on important issues effecting us all, we will not be able to build a good working relationship with Canada. This exclusionary practice is divisive, and not a path to reconciliation.”
CAP remains willing to work with the Trudeau government and meet with the First Ministers in Montreal on December 7th. National Chief Bertrand finishes that “it’s not too late. I urge Prime Minister Trudeau to reconsider, and welcome CAP to the table to meet with our First Ministers to discuss economic growth and prosperity for all Indigenous peoples”.
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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.