TORONTO — The leaders of three Indigenous groups are backing out of a meeting with Canada’s premiers, saying they are holding out for a seat at the Council of the Federation rather than a talk on the sidelines.
Hours before a meeting between premiers and aboriginal leaders was set to take place Monday, the heads of the Assembly of First Nations, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Metis National Council said they are seeking “full and meaningful inclusion” in the larger annual gathering of provincial and territorial leaders.
Perry Bellegarde, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said in a Toronto news conference that Canada’s Indigenous Peoples are not just another special interest group and won’t stand to be treated as such.
“We’re not ethnic minorities, we are Indigenous Peoples with the right to self-determination because we have our own lands, we have our own laws, we have our own languages, we have our own identifiable peoples and we have our identifiable forms of government,” he said.
Though the groups have met with the premiers in the past, they said long-standing issues have come to a head in the last year, particularly when contrasted with the federal government’s more inclusive approach.
“Unless we start taking a stand, they’re not going to really listen to us,” said Clement Chartier, president of the Metis National Council. “Hopefully this message will be heard loud and clear by them otherwise the Metis Nation will concentrate most of our efforts in dealing with the federal government.”
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall told reporters Monday that he doesn’t understand the purpose of a boycott. He noted the Council of the Federation is making progress on shared issues like education and infrastructure funding.
Unless we start taking a stand, they’re not going to really listen to us.Clement Chartier, Metis National Council president
“These meetings aren’t perfect and they don’t get the results that everybody wants immediately,” said Wall. “But we’ve substantive progress because of this meeting with all of the national indigenous organizations, so I’m very disappointed that they’re not coming.
“Some of the three that are not here wanted specifically to have aboriginal engagement on the issue today and they’ve chosen not to engage. I don’t understand it. I don’t think it’s the right call.”
Two other Indigenous groups plan to attend
Two other Indigenous groups, the Native Women’s Association of Canada and the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, are expected to attend Monday’s meeting.
Asked whether their participation …
Source:: The Huffington Post – Canada Travel