Indigenous leaders to boycott Monday's meeting with premiers

Three Indigenous groups will boycott the meeting with Canada's premiers on Monday because they believe their groups should be included as equal partners at the Council of the Federation meeting, which starts on Tuesday.

3 groups bow out of get-together scheduled with provincial, territorial leaders in Edmonton

Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde, left, and Metis National Council President Clement Chartier, right, along with Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami President Natan Obed, are planning to boycott a meeting with the premiers scheduled for Monday. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Three Indigenous groups will boycott their meeting with Canada's premiers on Monday in Edmonton.

The Assembly of First Nations (AFN), the Métis National Council and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami  (ITK) told CBC News they're backing out of the meeting because they believe their groups should be included as equal partners at the Council of the Federation meeting, which starts on Tuesday. 

Each of the organizations has sent a letter to Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, the meeting's chair. Notley had told reporters Thursday the meeting with Indigenous leaders was "a little bit up in the air."

The Council of the Federation represents the provincial and territorial leaders.

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde, ITK President Natan Obed and MNC President Clément Chartier said in a press release Friday they would hold a news conference in Toronto on Monday. The release did not provide further details, only that the organizations wanted to discuss intergovernmental relations.

A spokesperson for Obed said the ITK president would not be commenting until that time.

Notley told reporters on Thursday she was expecting Monday's meeting would be spent engaging with the leaders about progress on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations and the federal government's implementation of principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.

Two other major Indigenous organizations are still planning to be at that meeting: the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP) and the Native Women's Association of Canada.

"We will be happy to represent our constituents and voice their concerns," said CAP National Chief Robert Bertrand in a statement.

"It's unfortunate other national Indigenous organizations won't be representing their constituents."

Cheryl Oates, Notley's communications director, said late Friday that the premier's office continues "to work with indigenous leaders and hope that we can persuade them to attend on Monday."

"Monday's meeting has been set for months now and the intent of the meeting is largely to address relationships and interactions with the indigenous leaders and organizations and the provinces and territories."