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“It’s like we’re standing at the doorway,” said Clement Chartier of the Métis National Council. “What happens next, we’ll get to see. It’s always good words, this government right now is offering us an opportunity to sit at the table. We’ll see in the action what happens next.
“We echoed our tasks to the prime minister and the premiers, that whatever strategies being developed going forward, that we need to be at the table. We have responsibilities to protect the land and water.”
“Our perceptions, our positions and our realities will be an integral part of the way Canada moves forward,” he said. “The provinces and territories fully expect and appreciate that nuance as well.”
Not everything is possible in a two-hour meeting, said Bellegarde.
Two territorial premiers — Peter Taptuna of Nunavut and Yukon’s Darrell Pasloski — are cautious about any kind of a national carbon tax. Both men represent substantial aboriginal populations and Taptuna himself is Inuit.
The prime minister was defending himself even before the talks began over the decision not to include the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, which represents non-status aboriginals, and the Native Women’s Association of Canada.
“If I was good enough to go there why would I not be at this one? It just doesn’t make sense.”
Dawn Lavell-Harvard of the Native Women’s Association called it an issue of respect.
“Choosing to exclude the Native Women’s Association of Canada from the first ministers meeting was unfair, and speaks volumes to the ongoing lack of respect for indigenous women’s and girls’ voices in Canada,” she said.
Trudeau said there will be plenty of chances for those groups to make their opinions known at future conferences.
“I have had over the past months many meetings both with the national aboriginal organizations together but also individually with leaders and communities and the activists from the indigenous community to talk about the issues facing them,” he told reporters.
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