The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples is profoundly disappointed that federal, provincial and territorial Ministers of Justice have decided yet again to exclude the voices of urban Indigenous people at their annual meeting with National Indigenous leaders. The vast majority of Indigenous people now live in urban and rural areas and face ongoing systemic racism in the justice system.
“These injustices will only continue unless the voices of all Indigenous people are heard and used to craft laws and policies that address our specific needs,” says CAP National Chief Elmer St. Pierre. “This government has preached the importance of inclusion and reconciliation, but its actions do not reflect those commitments.”
In addition to excluding the voices of urban Indigenous people, the government has also decided to omit the Native Women’s Association of Canada from the meeting – the same group spearheading the issue of MMIWG. “CAP and NWAC both offer invaluable insight and advice when it comes to implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Canada’s justice system and why our people are over-represented in courtrooms and prisons,” says CAP National Vice-Chief Kim Beaudin. “For decades, CAP has been exposing injustices against Indigenous people and supporting those wrongfully caught up in the system – it’s a shame our voices won’t be at the table.”
CAP is nonetheless open and willing to share our peoples’ experiences and knowledge with justice leaders. Addressing systemic racism and prejudice in Canada’s justice system must start with inclusion.