(Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day meets with reporters following Wednesday’s meeting. The Prime Minister and the Premiers skipped the media availability. Photo: Brandi Morin)
APTN National News
VANCOUVER — Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adams stormed out of the meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Canada’s premiers and Indigenous leaders on climate change in Vancouver Wednesday because he said it fell to shambles.
“I think Canada’s in a crisis and it ain’t going to get any better now. Canada failed terribly, the provinces failed terribly in regards to addressing this issue,” said an infuriated Adam.
According to Adam the meeting didn’t include any talks of taking care of mother earth, instead the focus was placed on economic development and transitioning to a green economy.
Adam whose community sits three hours north of the Alberta tar sands said he’s now prepping to take the federal and provincial governments to court.
“The time has come to say that we are done with this. We’ve had enough. We’re not going to stand around and wait for these guys to do what they’ve got to do. Alberta wants to develop more, well, we will be there to stand in the way. We will not sell out to corporations nor will we ever be silenced ever. That’s our right,” he said.
Requests from chiefs to acquire more time to engage in discussions on climate and attend the first minister’s meeting Thursday were abruptly turned down by Trudeau, said Treaty 6 Grand Chief Tony Alexis.
“The question was brought forward to him (Trudeau) that the National Chief should be at the First Ministers meeting (tomorrow) and in a very diplomatic or constructive way he said there’s a process and within that process we will not be a part of it,” said Alexis who is advocating for Alberta chiefs to be at the front and center of talks on climate change.
Alexis sat in on the meeting after being invited last minute by the Alberta government to attend with the Alberta delegation alongside Premier Rachel Notley.
“Alberta deals with the most impact, there’s more damage happening there than in any other part of the country and here we are, we had to hitch hike to get here,” said Alexis.
Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day also expressed disappointment with the meeting and is rallying Canada chiefs to gather at the convention center Thursday outside where Trudeau and the premiers will be meeting.
“The process that the first minister’s meeting is proposing is that they’re going to now go away and determine what a declaration on our issues look like. That’s wrong, it’s not acceptable and might actually be to the peril of any pan Canadian climate change strategy,” said Day.
Day is advocating for a First Nations led climate change accord to be established in response to the growing “crisis” of climate change.
“What it all boils down to is us going back to our communities now and having to explain that we didn’t really have any say or input and that there was nothing resolved,” said Day. “We are now going to be faced with the leaders at the local level within our treaty territories saying ‘listen something else has to be done here’. We have no time to waste.”
MKO Grand Chief Sheila North Wilson also attended the meeting and said there’s a whole lot of work to be done on improving the nation to nation relationship.
“Our Indigenous leaders need to be respected and given the space to share our concerns. We shouldn’t have to beg for time with the prime minister. We should have time to speak with him on a nation to nation basis that he keeps talking about and we have yet to see that,” said North Wilson.
Neither Trudeau nor any premiers attended a media availability following the meeting.
However, Alberta’s Indigenous Relations Minister Richard Feehan was on hand and aware of the concerns raised by Alberta Chiefs.
Feehan said there wasn’t enough time to address the various interests within the meetings two hour time period.
“You can’t put all of your hopes and thoughts and dreams into one single event and hope that that’s going to make a transition. We are all in this (climate change) for the long term. This isn’t about something that’s happening today, it is happening to our world and it’s going to make a difference forever. We have to understand the resolution of this is going to be a long term,” said Feehan.
He added that he plans to reach out to Alberta chiefs and other Indigenous groups to sit down with them to further engage on climate talks.
Meanwhile the president of the Metis National Council Clement Chartier said he felt the Metis voice was heard in the meeting.
“We had an opportunity to make our presentation and our recommendations. But what’s important is the process itself. It was agreed that we would be engaged on this moving forward,” he said.