Indigenous leaders meet with UN

The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples is calling on area residents to share their thoughts on truth and reconciliation with the federal government.

On March 1, Grand Chief Elmer St. Pierre and other leadership from the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP), a national group representing Métis, status and non-status Indians and southern Inuit living off-reserve, met with Francisco Calí Tazy, the United Nations special rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous peoples, in Ottawa.

Calí Tazy has been on a tour of Canada, and St. Pierre said he was able to have fruitful conversations with him about Indigenous people living off reserve.

Support from international bodies like the United Nations is important to CAP, St. Pierre said, adding that urban Indigenous people and the issues facing them are often overlooked by the federal government.

“We’ve always had a good relationship with the United Nations,” St. Pierre said. “We thought it was a really good meeting.”

Calí Tazy is expected to present a report on his findings in Ottawa on Friday. In the meantime, St. Pierre wants people in Brandon and the Westman area to contact their federal representatives to let them know that reconciliation is still of utmost importance to them and to ask for CAP to be part of further reconciliation efforts on behalf of urban Indigenous people.

“That’s one of the big things we’re [working on] right now. And we need to be [part of it] because we represent a lot of people,” St. Pierre said.

Bill C-29 was tabled in the House of Commons on Oct. 17 with the intention to establish an Indigenous-led national council for reconciliation, which will oversee and monitor progress on reconciliation across Canada in all sectors, and support sustained action on long-term reconciliation. Since 80 per cent of Indigenous people live off-reserve, it’s important that urban Indigenous people are represented in the council, St. Pierre said.

The bill, which is currently at second reading in the Senate, is one the federal Conservatives have had an interest in since its first reading last June, said Brandon-Souris Conservative MP Larry Maguire.

Keeping relationships strong with all Indigenous groups is something Maguire said is front of mind in his role. He also mentioned he is looking forward to seeing Calí Tazy present his report. So far, though, his constituents haven’t contacted him regarding Bill C-29.

Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun