Following an online video of a meeting last week in which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen berating First Nations chiefs from across Saskatchewan for their time management, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) is calling for him to do better.
In the video, Trudeau indicated he had hoped to have more time to spend talking to those in attendance. He said the original plan for the meeting was to have eight people attend the meeting to discuss issues pertaining to various areas in the province. Instead, Trudeau said everyone who attended the first meeting had an opportunity to speak, which killed most of the time he had set aside to meet with chiefs.
“Bobby, there shouldn’t have been every single person speaking for eight minutes in the previous meeting,” Trudeau is seen in the video telling FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron. “That’s not the spirit of reconciliation, of nation-to-nation relationship we’re supposed to have.”
Trudeau indicated he was stuck with an “absolute time cap” of 9:05 and said those gathered then had thirty seconds or less to introduce themselves and provide him with their documents due to what he called “time mismanagement."
FSIN expresses concerns
“Prime Minister Trudeau has stressed that ‘no relationship is more important to me and to Canada than the one with Indigenous peoples,’ but he couldn’t give our chiefs’ the respect of adequate time to address their concerns,” Cameron said through a prepared statement.
Cameron added the one hour he spent with chiefs was not enough to hear legitimate concerns from Indigenous communities across the province. The Prime Minister’s staffers allowed 10 chiefs to speak to Trudeau for two to three minutes each.
“How can we get real answers for all of the issues that are plaguing our people in two to three minutes?” Cameron asked. “One hour is not enough time to give the respect our chiefs deserve.”
The Federation’s chief has extended an invitation to Trudeau to attend the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nation’s annual assembly next month, to allow chiefs to properly express their concerns to the Prime Minister.
Cameron noted he was pleased some communities, like the Lac La Ronge Indian Band were given the opportunity to make presentations on behalf of their communities, however, more First Nations deserve a chance to address Trudeau with their concerns.
“It’s about respect and honouring his word,” Cameron said.
The meeting between the Prime Minister and chiefs also covered Inherent and Treaty rights like education, housing, the medicine chest clause and NAFTA, among other topics.
A call to the Office of the Prime Minister was not returned by deadline.
On Twitter: @BryanEneas
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