As premiers and territorial leaders gather in Edmonton for this week’s Council of the Federation meeting, the leaders of three powerful Indigenous organizations say they will not be attending.
The leaders say the Council’s format does not meet their standards for treating them as equal partners.
The leaders boycotting the meeting represent the Assembly of First Nations, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Metis National Council.
“We are not just another special interest group,” says AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde.
Another First Nations leader, Robert Bertrand, national chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, says he will attend.
Indigenous leaders met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the premiers and territorial leaders at a first ministers’ meeting in Ottawa in December where they discussed Canada’s national climate change strategy and signed an agreement with most leaders.
However, one leader told CBC News at the time that he felt like Indigenous leaders were put at the “kids’ table.”
At the end of that meeting, the three Indigenous leaders were given seats with the premiers at the closing press conference.
This week’s meeting will see provincial and territorial leaders attempt to deal with a number of issues, including trade with the U.S. and the legalization of marijuana.