July 16, 2016 – Ottawa, ON – Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP) National Chief Betty Ann Lavallée says her meeting yesterday with the Council of the Federation was a qualified success.
Speaking from Goose Bay, Labrador at the conclusion of meetings between National Aboriginal Organization leaders and Premiers from across Canada, the National Chief highlighted accomplishments in two areas.
“We were pleased to come up with a way to move forward on a second round-table meeting concerning the tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous women”, the National Chief said. “All of us brought an attitude of collaboration and cooperation to help address this national tragedy. Manitoba committed to acting as host for the next roundtable, Ontario is providing coordination, Alberta will take the lead on moving forward with a socio-economic action plan and everyone is chipping in as best they can.”
“I also addressed the issue of our peoples rights under section 35 of the Constitution and how they continued to be breached as resource development projects proceed on our traditional lands without our consent. I specifically raised the Muskrat Falls project and the continued failure of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador to uphold the law and fulfill its duty of consultation and accommodation to the Inuit of Southern Labrador.”
Premier Davis of Newfoundland and Labrador confirmed his commitment to meet with President Todd Russell of the CAP affiliate Nunatukavut to have a serious discussion to address this issue and the impact of the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project on the Inuit of Southern Labrador. “Dialogue is essential and that is a concrete step forward”, said the National Chief.
However, the National Chief noted that the absence of the federal government from the discussions limited the progress that could be made on the issue of missing and murdered women, or other issues such as Aboriginal housing and children in care, saying, “We really need to be doing this work with everyone at the table.”
National Chief Lavallée will be retiring from CAP at the end of September and, reflecting on the 8 Council of the Federation meetings she has attended, concluded that “If reconciliation is ever to happen in this country, everyone – whether the federal or provincial or territorial representatives of the Crown or Aboriginal communities and organizations – must treat this with the time and respect it deserves, make it our priority and take action. Failure is not an option.”
Since 1971, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples has been the national representative organization advocating for the rights and interests of off-reserve non-Status and Status Indians, the Southern Inuit of Labrador and Métis Peoples.
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