CAP’s exclusion from reconciliation committee `heartless’ on government’s part

By Marc Lalonde

 Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The continued exclusion of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP) from a proposed federal Reconciliation Council just shows the government is out of touch from reality of life in Canada’s cities, CAP’s national vice-chief said yesterday.

Now, CAP is calling on the Senate to step in.

“It should be up to Indigenous people to decide who sits on the Reconciliation Council and who doesn’t,” said CAP national vice-chief Kim Beaudin. “Not the government. This government is making a decision about who they want to include and not include and they have indicated they don’t have any interest in the 80 percent of Indigenous people who live off-reserve.”

CAP is calling on the Senate to ensure all Indigenous Peoples are included in the planned Reconciliation Council being created by Bill C-29CAP called it `vital’ that urban Indigenous voices and CAP have a seat at the table, and that `senators must make an amendment allowing us to take part.’

The Reconciliation Council is a product of Bill C-29, introduced last year. Under the proposed legislation, the council would be considered a non-profit corporation with nine to 13 directors.

Earlier this year, opposition members tabled an amendment to include CAP on the council, but the Liberal caucus voted it down.

Beaudin said political pressure from other Indigenous groups and the notion that many of Canada’s urban Indigenous populations reside on the margins of society are to blame for the exclusion.

“We know they’ve been under a lot of political pressure from other groups and we think they might feel like CAP doesn’t really represent anybody. But, obviously, the fact a lot of the people we represent might live on the margins of society is a factor as well,” he said.

Beaudin said a meeting with Justin Trudeau in 2015 held promise but since then, the relationship has fallen apart.

“Reconciliation doesn’t just happen on reserve, the vast majority of Indigenous peoples now live in urban and rural areas and their voices must be heard. They’re not addressing it and they certainly aren’t considering that 80 percent of Indigenous people don’t reside in Indigenous communities.”

The agency’s national Chief agreed.

“Reconciliation must start with inclusion,” said Elmer St. Pierre. “There are five national Indigenous organizations, but for some reason the government is playing partisan politics, excluding CAP and the voices of urban Indigenous peoples.”

 Marc Lalonde is a  Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with IORI:WASE/LJI is a federally funded program


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