Monday, 29 February 2016

What is the 'Congress of Aboriginal Peoples?' Not a 'Nation Building' Organization

Over the last couple of days, the Canadian media is having a ‘hayday’ over the anger that is being put forth by two Indigenous organizations that are not apart of the discussions that surround nation-to-nation relations (specifically around climate change).

At this meeting the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Metis Nation of Canada, and the Assembly of First Nations are invited – this makes sense as each group reflects organizations put together by recognized peoples within the Canadian constitution as well as those who have unique rights, such as the AFN on behalf of First Nations communities who are the signatories of treaties with the Crown, and thus Canada.

These three groups, albeit with forms of representative problems within, represent these groups and, for the most part are acknowledged as doing so. These three groups represent a form of what I term: ‘nation-building organizations - collective/nation representation vs. Individual representation.’ There place and existence is to help defend Inuit, Metis, and First Nations rights and agreements signed between them and Canada.

All three, like CAP and the Native Womens Association of Canada (NWAC), are organizations – but three of them (MNC, ITK, and AFN) reflect actual settlements, whether within the constructs of settler-colonialism or not, that have territorial, legal, and nationalistic standings for defence. Thus, on climate change – something that reflects territory and changes to it – it makes sense that ITK, MNC, and AFN are at the table. If this meeting was focused on #MMIWG, then I would hope MNC, ITK, AFN, and NWAC would be at the table for this discussion as all four represent different segments and caveats of Indigenous women, children, two spirited people, and men (all of which have an important place in a discussion surrounding MMIWG).

But again, only three of the above organizations reflect ‘nation-building' I would argue.

Enter CAP:

Now – in relation to CAP specifically. CAP expresses that it “is one of five National Aboriginal Representative Organizations recognized by the Government of Canada.” Their mandate further states that CAP was “founded in 1971 as the Native Council of Canada (NCC), [and] originally established to represent the interests of Metis and non-status Indians.” Around 1993, CAP purports that it was reorganized and that it “extended its constituency to include all off-reserve status and non-status Indians, Metis and Southern Inuit Aboriginal Peoples, and served as the national voice for its provincial and territorial affiliate organizations.” Lastly, CAP stats that it “holds consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), which facilitates its participation on international issues of importance to Indigenous peoples.”

This is a lengthy statement – and as an Urban Indigenous person myself I am troubled by the fact CAP claims its mandate was reorganized so that it “extended its constituency to include all off-reserve status and non status Indians, Metis and Southern Inuit Aboriginal Peoples.” For all of us Urban Indigenous peoples in Canada – did you know CAP claims to represent you?

As someone who is active and follows politics this is extremely problematic as CAP has done many ‘not-so-representative’ actions over the last few years. For instance, did you know CAP:

  • ·      Endorsed the Harper Conservatives in 2006 (under then ‘Chief’ of CAP Patrick Brazeau)?
o   Ive never heard the AFN take any such place in politics other then to push Indigenous peoples to vote in this election because of the damage Harper did to our nations, rights, and us as peoples.
o   How can such an organization purport to represent Indigenous peoples when it effectively played politics and intermingled with politics, and specifically with a party and government who did as much damage to us as it did – which we knew would happen prior to them winning government in 2006?

  • ·      Purports to represent ALL Indigenous peoples living outside of their settlements or communities as well as non-status First Nations peoples?

  • ·      Is more or less a lobbying organization rather then a nation-building one, consistently assisting, in my view, discontent and division amongst Indigenous peoples (yes some Chief and Council systems do this too – I agree – but what CAP doesn’t realize is they are acting the exact same way as this Chief and Councils that they purport to be different from)

The above things are especially problematic for an organization claiming to represent Indigenous peoples who are from various walks of life and Indigenous nations. Now, I know the AFN is a body utilized to push for First Nations recognition but this is based on community, treaty area, and, in many cases, the nation – aka: a form of nation building.

Additionally, those joining the witch-hunt over the fact CAP isn’t invited need to do some additional research and understanding. This includes: What CAP says it does & truly how many of us off-rez/off-settlement/below the arctic circle/Urban Indigenous peoples it represents.

I will state: As an Urban Indigenous person – CAP has never, nor does it currently, represent me in any way. My community of Manominiiking represents me (thus through my community, association of Iroquois and Allied Indians, Chiefs of Ontario, Assembly of First Nations) and, in my personal view the Federal Government of Canada, the Provincial Government of Quebec, The Municipal government of Montreal may also represent me – Not CAP.

Thus claiming it represents all off-reserve people is falsely inaccurate (and even more inaccurate because I am not the only one who can state: #CAPdoesNotRepresentMe

The Media and ‘Politicking’ Game:

In turn, this posts comes after a day of the media buying into this bull crap and especially the NDP playing politics with Indigenous peoples, our rights, or push to decolonize AS WELL AS a move towards nation-to-nation relations.

The fact the media continues to highlight how two national organizations were excluded is problematic. Do some actual research and true review of your posts … unless your goal is to create sensationalist claims.

Additionally, Thomas Muclair and the NDP  – you expressed in the 2015 election you would work with our nations and be apart of nation-to-nation relations (albeit you didn’t say it until two years after Trudeau had been saying it). (the Manitoba NDP under Greg Selinger, and other provincial premiers, are playing this game too)

It is clear the NDP is now opting to play political chess with this (just like they did with the Matrimonial Real Property Bill in 2009) – whoever in the party told you to . Thus, to Thomas Mulcair and the NDP; To Greg Selinger and the Manitoba NDP – and to other Provincial Premiers who may not be paying attention to the reality of CAP:

QUIT IT – Stop playing politics with Indigenous rights,
 nation-to-nation relations, and nation building.


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