Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott says the federal government will attend a provincial inquiry into the treatment of Innu children in the child protection system in Newfoundland and Labrador.

She said she won't be attending herself, but she will send representatives on behalf of the federal government.

"There will be people there. They will be providing support and documents and following the process extremely closely," she told CBC's As it Happens on Friday.

Greg Rich

Innu Nation Grand Chief Greg Rich said he felt embarrassed because the federal government would not be present at the inquiry. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

The announcement comes a day after Innu Nation Grand Chief Gregory Rich said he was embarrassed because it appeared the federal government would not participate in the inquiry beyond a contribution of money and information.

The Innu leadership and the government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced the inquiry in July after the son of the deputy grand chief of the Innu Nation took his own life.

Provincial inquiry

Philpott says she won't be attending herself because it's a provincial inquiry.

"A federal minister would not normally be at a provincial inquiry," she said. "We are not formally part of the provincial inquiry, but we are absolutely participating in the process."

She says her department will be keeping a close eye on the proceedings.

"There will be representatives that will be participating in this. We're supporting it financially. We're there making sure they've got the documents that they need."

"We will be certainly following it very closely, but it's a provincial inquiry and they're using their provincial legislation for it," she said.

Philpott's full conversation with Carol Off of CBC's As It Happens is here.