News / Edmonton

Alberta first nations disappointed in meetings with Justin Trudeau

Chiefs disappointed not to have seat at the table

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, presents Squamish elder Latash Nahanee with a gift during a meeting of the First Ministers, First Nations, Inuit, and Metis Leaders in Vancouver.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, presents Squamish elder Latash Nahanee with a gift during a meeting of the First Ministers, First Nations, Inuit, and Metis Leaders in Vancouver.

Alberta First Nations say they did not see the promised nation-to-nation relationship at the Prime Minister’s meetings on climate in Vancouver.

“First Nation people were just asked to come and visit the premiers and Prime Minister,” said Treaty 6 Grand Chief Tony Alexis.

Alexis said First Nations were disappointed to learn they would not have a seat at the table during the Prime Ministers meeting with the premiers. Prime Minister Trudeau had a separate meeting with Indigenous leaders and aboriginal organizations and then a meeting with the premiers and their representatives.

Alexis did secure a spot to the First Ministers meeting as part of Minister of Indigenous Relations Richard Feehan’s delegation. And although Alexis thanks Feehan, he’s disappointed that elected chiefs did not have a more direct role.

“That meeting was a lot of chiefs who went out with the spirit of their people to find out that we were not going to be allowed to speak,” said Alexis.

The climate meetings this week were a follow up on the Paris COP21 meetings which promised full participation in the creation of a climate change strategy by Indigenous peoples.

In addition to a lack of participation, Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam walked out of the meeting with Trudeau due to its emphasis on economic solutions to the climate problem. According to the statement announcing the meetings discussion would focus on “the opportunity for Canada to become a leader in the global clean growth economy.”

“What Chief Adam is saying is blunt and I share that with him,” said Alexis.

The Assembly of First Nations is advocating full participation in the design and delivery of Canada’s climate change strategy.