As I blog this at 11 a.m. Eastern, we are two hours away from a scheduled meeting between Prime Minister Stephen Harper, some of his cabinet ministers and officials and some First Nations leaders. We believe Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo will be one of those leaders along with AFN B.C. regional chief Jody Wilson-Raybould. But we’re still not quite sure if that meeting will occur and,if it does, if it will be with those FN leaders.
That meeting is scheduled to take place in the Langevin Block on Parliament Hill, the building that houses the prime minister’s office.
Langevin Block is about six blocks away from the hotel where many of the country’s chiefs have been meeting this week. On Thursday, the chiefs essentially decided two things: First, the Governor General has to be at the 1 pm meeting with the Prime Minister. Second, the meeting should not be in the Langevin Block but should be at the chiefs’ hotel so that all the chiefs can watch/participate.
Pam Palmater, Ryerson University professor and unsuccessful candidate last summer to be National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, explained Thursday evening to reporters why that first condition would not be sufficient on its own and why that second condition is important:
“No and here’s why not: Canada has consistently dictated the terms under which we could talk and have a relationship and what the chiefs here have decided is that no longer does Canada get to dictate the terms of our relationship. It’s supposed to be nation to nation. So what’s happened is our chiefs went to Parliament to try to talk to them about legislation and they got kicked out. Our chiefs tried to set up a meeting with Canada and the Governor General for all of our leadership and they were told, no, you can only bring 20 people. That is not acceptable in a nation to nation relationship. So we said what we’re going to do is show you how to be a respectful partner. Our government’s going to be open. We’re going to invite you to this meeting with all of our leadership and grassroots people and we invite you to come here and talk about all of these issues and ours. If they refuse, that’s their choice but there will be consequences like you heard the chief say.”
You can listen here:
Categories: Aboriginal Affairs