APTN National News
OTTAWA -Following the first meeting on the road to reconciliation Aboriginal leaders said they are encouraged by what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told them behind closed doors.
“We wanted to say how proud we were to be part of the conversations today, to see people starting to do things in a different way,” said Dawn Harvard, president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada. “I think we’ve seen that here today, is what can be accomplished if you go in with that desire to dialogue.”
Five leaders from various national Aboriginal organizations met with Trudeau to try and work out a plan to implement the recommendations contained in the Truth and Reconciliations June report. The commission’s final report was released Tuesday in Ottawa.
Natan Obed, president of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami said he is encouraged by the meeting with Trudeau and members of his Cabinet.
“What we were looking for is a renewed Inuit to Crown relationship,” said Obed. “That relationship can only happen with the type of meetings we had this morning, and the respect for the, for all Inuit organizations in a way that we haven’t seen in a number of years.”
He said he looks forward to “renewing” the relationship in a tangible way.
“I think the time for rhetoric is over and the time for action is now. I’m really happy to be part of the transition and the implementation of a meaningful new relationship between Inuit and the Government of Canada,” he said.
Clement Chartier, president of the Metis National Council said he was glad to meet with Trudeau but gave the new prime minister a message.
“The Metis Nation is pleased that the TRC, the Canadian government has dealt with Indian Residential Schools. This morning, again, we reminded the Prime Minister that the Métis residential schools have not been dealt with yet,” said Chartier. “(We were) given assurances that our issues will be looked at. So I believe that’s very critical to us.”
Chartier is a survivor of a Metis residential school, having went for 10 years. He supports the government’s call for a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous.
“Myself, when I was 15-years-old at a boarding school, my mother was killed. No justice has yet been done for her,” he said.
Trudeau said the purpose of the Wednesday morning meeting was to set that direction.
“We talked about a number of specific issues,” said Trudeau. “But also engaged directly on how we’re going to work together to address these problems concretely. This is an engagement that is going to take years, decades and generations, perhaps.”
But as Trudeau, his ministers, Aboriginal leaders and the grassroots move forward it’s important to ensure this first meeting wasn’t just a meeting to have more meetings, said the prime minister.
“It’s important to start with a true sense of collaboration and partnership and that’s exactly what we cemented this morning,” he said.
Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde said success will be measured in results.
“How are you going to measure success? Well, once you start getting rid of the 135-plus boil water advisories, you know, that’s going to be success,” he said. ” So success will be measured when that gap starts to close, and so that all peoples have the same opportunities to good jobs, good education and training and employment opportunities.”