Toronto Star

Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde is calling for a first ministers conference devoted entirely to Section 35 of the Constitution, which recognizes the rights of Aboriginal Peoples, so they can get serious about building a nation-to-nation relationship.

Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde is calling for a first ministers conference devoted entirely to Section 35 of the Constitution, which recognizes the rights of Aboriginal Peoples, so they can get serious about building a nation-to-nation relationship

Challenge is that the Constitution does not recognize First Nations leaders as representatives from an order of government.

The head of the Assembly of First Nations says Canada needs to change the Constitution to ensure indigenous leaders can be in the room when the prime minister sits down to do serious business with the provinces and territories.

Indigenous leaders are frustrated at being invited to today’s meeting with the premiers, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden, but excluded from the afternoon session on climate change.

Aboriginal Peoples and their traditional way of life suffer some of the worst effects of climate change, despite having next to nothing to do with the cause, so they should be fully involved in decisions on what to do about it, they say.

The challenge right now is that the Constitution does not recognize First Nations, Métis and Inuit leaders as representatives from an order of government, said National Chief Perry Bellegarde, who acknowledged aboriginal priorities were discussed during the morning meeting.

He says that until the Constitution is “fixed,” Aboriginal Peoples will always be excluded.

Bellegarde is calling for a first ministers conference devoted entirely to Section 35 of the Constitution, which recognizes the rights of Aboriginal Peoples, so they can get serious about building a nation-to-nation relationship.