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Canada snubs Congress of aboriginal peoples excluding group from first ministers meeting.

GATINEAU

"A good portion" of First Nations people living off reserve will not be represented when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the premiers meet with Indigenous leaders next week, said a national leader.

For the second time this year, neither the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples nor the Native Women's Association of Canada has been invited to the First Ministers' Meeting and a meeting with First Nations, Inuit, and Metis leaders, which will take place in Ottawa on Dec. 9.

According to the Prime Ministers Office, the meeting will occur with Assembly of First Nations National Chief[dagger] Perry Bellegarde, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami President Natan Obed, and Metis National Council President ClEment Chartier.

"We are extremely disappointed that this has happened again," said CAP's National Chief Robert Bertrand, who was elected to the position in late September.

"Every time we meet with different ministers or different civil servants we always tell them it is so important, it would be so important to have CAP and NWAC there."

Bertrand is upset particularly in light of the Daniels decision. The Supreme Court said that the federal government had fiduciary responsibility for the Metis.

"We thought this would have been a great opportunity for the federal government to invite CAP and NWAC to participate in these important sessions," he said.

CAP bills itself as "the national voice representing the interests of Metis, status and non-status Indians, and southern Inuit Indigenous people living off-reserve."

Bertrand points out that Statistics Canada numbers indicates that 70 per cent of First Nations people live off-reserve.

"We don't claim to represent all of those, but those are our main constituents," he said.

Bertrand, who became CAP national chief after serving as President Grand Chief of the CAP affiliate Alliance Autochtone du Quebec Inc., notes that the Quebec CAP affiliate has 25,000 members.

"This is a good group of people that we represent and there will be nobody at these meetings representing these people," he said.

CAP, who has affiliates in every province, with Alberta and British Columbia recently added, was meeting on Nov. 29 when the PMO released the statement about the upcoming meeting.

"Everybody from the Atlantic to the Pacific, everybody is very disappointed. We should have been included," he said.

Bertrand said he will be contacting the Prime Ministers Office to find out why CAP wasn't invited.

"We will be continuing our lobby efforts to make sure in the future that CAP, and I hate to speak for NWAC, but these two organizations need to be included in all these discussions," he said.

A statement from the PMO says the meeting with the three Indigenous leaders will serve as an opportunity to discuss the framework and Indigenous perspectives in advance of the First Ministers' Meeting.

"The discussion will inform further partnerships with Indigenous peoples as part of ongoing collaboration to protect Canada's land, air, and water for future generations and to build our clean growth economy. Premiers are invited to take part in the meeting with the Indigenous leaders."

By Shari Narine

Windspeaker Contributor

Caption: Congress of Aboriginal Peoples National Chief Robert Bertrand.
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Author:Narine, Shari
Publication:Windspeaker
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Dec 15, 2016
Words:517
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