Inuit must have seat at the table when Canada’s provincial, territorial leaders meet, says ITK

Clément Chartier, president of the Métis National Council (left), Perry Bellegarde, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations (centre), and Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, at a press conference in Toronto, Canada on Monday. (CBC)
Intergovernmental forums in Canada must include Inuit, and other Indigenous organizations, as full partners so policy positively benefits their Peoples, says the president of Canada’s national Inuit organization.

“Provinces and territories must embrace participation of national Indigenous representational organizations in national intergovernmental processes, rather than wishing to limit or exclude us,” said Natan Obed, the president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK).

“Excluding Inuit from meaningful intergovernmental discussions runs counter to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Canadian constitution, and practically will result in continued growth of the gap in health and social and economic outcomes between Inuit and other Canadians.”

ITK to boycott premiers’ meeting

Obed made the comments at a news conference in Toronto, Canada on Monday, along with the leaders of two other Indigenous organizations; Perry Bellegarde, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN); and Clément Chartier, president of the Métis National Council.

The three leaders recently announced they would boycott the upcoming Council of the Federation, a meeting of the leaders of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories.

This week’s meeting will take place in Edmonton, Alberta where the provinces’ and territories’ economic relationship with the United States is expected to dominate talks, along with issues like health care.

‘It changes the relationship’

However, Indigenous leaders cried foul that they wouldn’t have seat at the table when policy discussions around climate change, environment, energy and health have a direct impact on their Peoples and regions.

“It changes the relationship that then we, as Inuit, have with the Council of the Federation,” Obed said.

“ITK’s hope is that Inuit, the federal government, and provincial and territorial governments can work together through multilateral processes to coordinate and advance mutually shared priorities, including infrastructure, health, education, housing, and economic development investments.”

The Council of the Federation starts on Tuesday.

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Inuit leaders want Ottawa to ‘reimagine’ relations: Obed, Radio Canada International

Finland:  Sami group occupies island in northern Finland to protest fishing rules, Yle News

Norway: Political support for Norwegian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Treatment of Sami people among Swedish shortcomings : Amnesty International report, Radio Sweden

Russia: More protected lands on Nenets tundra in Arctic Russia, The Independent Barents Observer

United States: Bering Sea tribal groups slam Alaska delegation for ‘standing by’ as Trump struck order giving them voice, Alaska Dispatch News


Eilís Quinn, Eye on the Arctic

Eilís Quinn is an award-winning journalist and manages Radio Canada International’s Eye on the Arctic news cooperation project. Eilís has reported from the Arctic regions of all eight circumpolar countries and has produced numerous documentary and multimedia series about climate change and the issues facing Indigenous peoples in the North.

Her investigative report "Death in the Arctic: A community grieves, a father fights for change," about the murder of Robert Adams, a 19-year-old Inuk man from Arctic Quebec, received the silver medal for “Best Investigative Article or Series” at the 2019 Canadian Online Publishing Awards. The project also received an honourable mention for excellence in reporting on trauma at the 2019 Dart Awards in New York City.

Her report “The Arctic Railway: Building a future or destroying a culture?” on the impact a multi-billion euro infrastructure project would have on Indigenous communities in Arctic Europe was a finalist at the 2019 Canadian Association of Journalists award in the online investigative category.

Her multimedia project on the health challenges in the Canadian Arctic, "Bridging the Divide," was a finalist at the 2012 Webby Awards.

Her work on climate change in the Arctic has also been featured on the TV science program Découverte, as well as Le Téléjournal, the French-Language CBC’s flagship news cast.

Eilís has worked for media organizations in Canada and the United States and as a TV host for the Discovery/BBC Worldwide series "Best in China."

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