Treaty no. 6, 7 and 8 Chiefs Upset with INAC Education Meeting
Calgary, Alberta – April 16, 2013
Following the unilateral decision by the Harper Government to legislate First Nations Education, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) unveiled a pan-Canadian consultation blitz in late 2012. The tour called for visits to seven cities to discuss the First Nations Education Act: A Discussion Guide. After the initial announcement, discussion began with INAC to work out the logistics of the proposed meeting tentatively scheduled for the week of February 25, 2013. The initial date was rescheduled for the end of the INAC Consultation schedule, taking place on April 16, 2013.
“this must not be considered consultation, as the Chiefs of Treaty 6 are deeply disappointed by the absence of the Minister”
All arrangements of venue and agenda were spearheaded by INAC, with little involvement by First Nations. Leading up to the meeting date it was learned that Indian Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt would not be appearing in person, nor video conferencing; rather he would be discussing the critical issue of First Nations Education over the telephone. Following similar agendas, an afternoon technicians meeting was also scheduled to take place.Prior to the meeting date, in line with protocol and tradition the Chiefs of Treaty no. 6, 7 and 8 held a pipe ceremony for guidance and understanding. This ceremony was intended to allow our Treaty partners to respect and understand the Chiefs position and to facilitate meaningful dialog. Entering the meeting, Grand Chief Makinaw stated that:
“…this must not be considered consultation, as the Chiefs of Treaty 6 are deeply disappointed by the absence of the Minister. The outcome of the January 11 meeting with the Prime Minister was a dedication to High Level meetings with Chiefs, and this does not meet that dedication and any conversation that takes place must be taken without prejudice.”
This statement, following the strong words of Grand Chief Charles Weaselhead expressed the disappointment experienced by the Chiefs, and dictated the tone of this brief discussion. The Grand Chiefs took turns putting forth a statement for the record, and after some short comments by the Minister via telephone, his communication ended abruptly. At this point the National Chief was given the opportunity to speak, and expressed support for the Chiefs of Treaty no. 6, 7 and 8 as well as the need for the Minister to sit and discuss this issue in person.
With that the Chiefs stated that they did not wish to converse with technicians as it was outside the dedication put forth by the Prime Minister, and would reserve further discussion for a, yet unscheduled, later meeting. The Chiefs then advised the INAC technicians that this means no disrespect and called an end to the meeting and began to exit. INAC Education Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) Francoise Ducros then attempted to facilitate some discussion; however the Chiefs had stated their position and exited the room.
For more information contact Rob Houle, Acting Grand Chief Liaison at firstname.lastname@example.org