Elder criticizes native omission from summit

Garry Sault said he attended Thursday's protest not only to drawn attention to problems facing First Nations communities, but also to call for action on environmental issues. (Pras Rajagopalan/CBC)

By Prasanna Rajagopalan, CBC News
pras-52.jpg A senior member of a First Nations band near Toronto is criticizing the federal government for failing to involve his band in the G20 summit.

Garry Sault, an elder with the Mississaugas of the Port Credit First Nations, was among about 1,000 people who took part in a peaceful demonstration that started at Queen's Park on Thursday and wound its way through downtown Toronto before concluding at Allan Gardens.

The nation, located southwest of Hamilton, used to own much of the land that is now metropolitan Toronto.

A deal initiated by the Crown to formally acquire that land was completed in 1805 in what was known as the Toronto purchase.

After years of negotiation, the nation reached a settlement with the federal government on May 29 that gave it $145 million as compensation for the purchase.

Sault, 65, said he usually welcomes other nations at opening and closing ceremonies at assemblies.

But no overtures were made from government to his band, he said. "They came here to my city and they never even asked permission," he said. "They have no protocol. They deal with bureaucrats who speak for the government but don't speak for the land."

The G20 summit management office issued a statement in response to Sault's comments.

"Every effort was made to consult with and include First Nations groups in advance of the G20 summit," the email said.

"In the process of these consultations, we informed all Ontario umbrella First Nations organizations and the Assembly of First Nations of the G20 leaders meeting with a view to opening the lines of dialogue."