CAP national chief vows to put forgotten organization ‘back on track’

This year the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP) turns 50 and it couldn’t be more forgotten.

Forgotten by the media.

And the people.

Some will comment on this story having never heard of the organization, or at least question what CAP does for them.

CAP claims to be the national voice for “off-reserve Indigenous Peoples”: Status and non-status Indians, Metis and southern Inuit living outside of their communities or territories.

That’s about 70 per cent of all Indigenous people in Canada, according to CAP.

So how could it have gotten so far off track?

Lack of leadership, to begin with, according to the new national chief, Elmer St. Pierre, 66.

“It was leadership that dropped the ball and … I’m going to pick up the ball and we’re going to start playing hardball. We’re going to start getting back on track again,” said St. Pierre, who was elected last October, on Nation to Nation. 

A quick internet search for stories on the election turned up a lone Canadian media report and it was by the Saskatoon StarPhoenix newspaper on the re-election of Kim Beaudin as CAP vice-chief.

“We haven’t been playing at the same level for the last five years,” said St. Pierre, referring in part to not being invited to ministerial meetings with the federal government, unlike the Assembly of First Nations, Metis National Council and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.

“I’m here for four years. I’m not going anywhere and if it has to be a fight it will be a fight,” he said.

St. Pierre said he is Algonquin and status Indian. He said his community is Kitigan Zibi First Nation about 100 km north of Ottawa.

He believes questions about the Indigeneity of former national chief Robert Bertrand in 2017 likely impacted CAP, which were first reported by APTN News.

“You’ve got a chief that doesn’t know whether he’s Algonquin or what he is, so sure it had an impact on us,” said St. Pierre.

He said his plan to improve CAP includes the grassroots, who he believes, feels as though they’ve been left behind.

“My plan is our grassroots people are heard at the top level. We’re all on the same playing ground,” he said.

After the historic Daniels vs. Canada decision in 2016, when the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed non status and Metis are under federal jurisdiction, St. Pierre believes the Metis National Council achieved more than CAP, despite it being a CAP case that ended a 17-year legal battle named after former leader the late Harry Daniels.

Under Bertrand, CAP signed a “renewed” political accord in 2018 which it explains here.

Catch the full interview with St. Pierre below, along with an interview with TikTok sensation, Annie Buscemi.

The Inuk woman explained she shares videos to help fight her depression and anxiety.

“It really helps open me up and it helps me be a happier and more enthusiastic and positive person,” said Buscemi.

N2N also catches up with APTN reporter Brett Forester who reported last week that the federal government predicted attacks on Mi’kmaw lobster harvesters trying to earn a moderate living, but didn’t do anything about it.