Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said Monday it was "unfortunate" three of the five national Indigenous groups invited to meet with Canada's premiers chose to boycott the meeting.
The Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Métis National Council refused to attend the summit in Edmonton Monday, which precedes the two-day Council of the Federation.
The groups say they should be at the table with the premiers and not be segregated.
Notley, the host of this year's premiers' meeting, said her provincial and territorial colleagues were looking forward to talking with the leaders of these three groups.
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She called the issues of how governments work with Indigenous people complex and evolving — and said they can only be resolved by talking.
"And you won't get to resolution without having those conversations," Notley said. "And we would suggest that the best way to engage in those conversations is to be there for them."
Eleven of the Canada's 13 premiers met Monday afternoon with the Native Women's Association of Canada and The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, which represents urban Indigenous people.
Robert Bertrand, national chief of The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, said his group was not asked to be part of the boycott.
Bertrand declined to comment on the boycott other than to say he was glad to be part of the meeting because it opened up channels of communication with premiers across the country.
"For the people that I represent, I think that it was a good thing that we were here this afternoon," he said.
Francyne Joe, president of the Native Women's Association of Canada, said her membership expects her to be at meetings like the one with the premiers.
"We hope that the others will join us at some point so that we can work together and address these issues that are very important to all Indigenous people in this country," she said.
Too much process
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said he didn't understand why the groups decided to boycott the meeting and said he was disappointed they wouldn't be there.
Wall said he doesn't know how the groups don't feel welcome when a whole day was set aside to meet with them.
"It doesn't really matter what you call it, all the premiers are there," Wall said. "We've come out of these meetings that I've been at the last 10 years, it's results oriented. We're resolved to undertake certain actions."
New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant said good things came out of past meetings between the premiers and Indigenous leaders.
He suggested that focusing too much on process might get in the way of achieving results.
"Process can be very important but at the end of the day, it's only important because we are all trying to achieve results that will improve the quality of life of Indigenous people and First Nation communities," Gallant said.
Quebec Premier Phillippe Couillard was not at the meeting on Monday. The province was represented by Geoffrey Kelley, Quebec's minister responsible for Native Affairs.
British Columbia's premier-designate John Horgan is skipping the premier's summit as he is being sworn-in Tuesday.