January 25, 2018 (Ottawa, ON) – The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP) and its constituency are growing increasingly impatient with the Federal Government’s repeated exclusion of the voices of off-reserve Indigenous People from Federal-Provincial-Territorial meetings that are detrimental to their welfare and rights. CAP has been intentionally excluded from the 2018 Emergency Meeting on Indigenous Child and Family Services being held in Ottawa today at the behest of the Minister of Indigenous Services, the Hon. Jane Philpott.
“As soon as we were made aware of this meeting last month, we wrote a letter to Minister Philpott citing both our concerns as to our exclusion and the reasons why CAP needs to be at the table. The dire situations facing our Indigenous children and families today are to be found in all regions across Canada, both on-reserve and off-reserve,” states National Chief Robert Bertrand.
Despite this appeal, and subsequent meetings with representatives of Indigenous Services, this government continues to take a one-sided and prejudicial position towards CAP – one of the five National Indigenous Organizations (NIOs) recognized by the Government of Canada – and subsequently, the off-reserve Indigenous People.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has taken to the international stage to cite his government’s achievements towards reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. Yet CAP is still witnessing both these exclusionary measures and a stalemate-like approach to the Supreme Court of Canada’s 2016 decision on Daniels v. Canada; a case fought and won by us.
Canada’s full endorsement of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), including the Liberal Government’s support of Bill C-262, An Act to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with UNDRIP, and their commitment to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s 94 Calls to Action are disingenuous if Canada is selecting to exclude CAP, and by extension the voices of off-reserve status and non-status Indians, Métis, and Southern Labrador Inuit from crucial discussions that impact on their rights and lives.
“However,” states Chief Bertrand, “we will not let ourselves be relegated to the sidelines. CAP will continue to seek support and recourse towards securing the rights, programs, and services for our constituency with the federal government and through recourse with the provincial and territorial governments and international bodies such as the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples and the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.”
“There is simply too much at stake here for our children and families. CAP has been advocating for our people for over 45 years. We must resolve our commitment to unite together and achieve true reconciliation for off-reserve Indigenous People” concludes Chief Bertrand.
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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.