February 22, 2022 (OTTAWA) – The federal government is once again actively excluding off-reserve Indigenous people in Canada from having a voice and seat at the table.
Today, Minister of Justice David Lametti met with Federal-Provincial-Territorial Ministers responsible for Justice and National Indigenous Organizations (NIOs) – with the exclusion of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP) and Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) – two of the five recognized NIOs in Canada. The meeting is expected to cover the Indigenous Justice Program and policing.
“Over 80% of Indigenous people in Canada live off-reserve. To exclude CAP from discussions around Indigenous justice and policing is to exclude those 80% of Indigenous people and CAP’s communities,” said CAP National Chief, Elmer St. Pierre. “This is not politics; this is playing with peoples’ lives. Our people are suffering in communities and prisons because they don’t have a voice at the table advocating for them.”
Two key objectives of the federal government’s Indigenous Justice Program are to include Indigenous values within the justice system and contribute to a decrease in the rate of victimization, crime, and incarceration among Indigenous people. By excluding CAP and its constituency, the needs of our communities of Indigenous peoples are not inherently considered in justice policy and legislation, even though off-reserve Indigenous peoples experience overrepresentation in prisons, police violence and over-policing, gang involvement, and the criminal justice system’s reliance to over-institutionalization. This approach reduces the likelihood for accessibility to programs and services that help Indigenous peoples that interact with the criminal justice system.
“CAP has a justice policy table and a relationship with Minister Lametti, and the Department of Justice. To exclude CAP from this conversation was an active choice of discrimination,” said St. Pierre.
CAP calls on Minister Lametti and the federal government to turn the page and include the voice representing the interests of Métis, status and non-status Indians, and Southern Inuit Indigenous People living off-reserve.
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 80% of Indigenous people live off-reserve.