ITK president to skip Indigenous leaders, premiers meeting in Winnipeg

Natan Obed declined invitation because non rights-holding groups will be attending

Inuit Tapariit Kanatami president Natan Obed will not attend a meeting between Canada’s premiers and Indigenous leaders over concerns about non-rights-holding organizations such as the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples and Native Women’s Association of Canada being part of the event in Winnipeg. (File photo by Jeff Pelletier)

By Meral Jamal

Inuit Tapariit Kanatami president Natan Obed has declined an invitation to attend a meeting between national Indigenous leaders and premiers in Winnipeg next week, the organization’s spokesperson Sarah Rogers said in an email to Nunatsiaq News. 

Obed, who leads the national organization for Inuit in Canada, will not attend the meeting over his organizations’ concerns about other Indigenous groups that do not represent specific land claim regions or Indigenous nations that are participating in the meeting.

The gathering is a three-day meeting of the Council of the Federation, made up of Canada’s premiers, which begins July 10.

Obed declined an interview request. However, he and Cassidy Caron, president of the Métis National Council, issued a joint statement Friday.

“ITK generally welcomes any opportunity to share Inuit priorities with territorial and provincial leaders,” Obed was said in the statement, “but any such meeting should be done with clear objectives and be respectful of Inuit governance.”

Specifically, Obed and Caron raised concerns about the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples and Native Women’s Association of Canada, whose representatives will be present in Winnipeg.

“These organizations are not recognized by the four Inuit Treaty Organizations which collectively represent all Inuit, or the democratically elected Métis governments which represent Métis citizens across the Homeland in Inuit and Métis relationships with the Crown,” Obed and Caron said.

“Discussions with such organizations are not constructive because only Inuit Treaty Organizations have the mandate or the ability to work on behalf of Inuit, and Métis governments the mandate to represent Métis Nation citizens.

“It is both ITK and MNC who are the duly mandated national representatives who are best placed to collaborate with federal, provincial or territorial governments.”

The statement indicated Caron will attend the meeting to bring that message to the premiers.

It’s “disheartening” to have national Indigenous organizations disagree on who should take part in meetings with premiers and governments, said Kim Beaudin, national vice-chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples.

Beaudin added the congress has been around since 1971 and predates the creation of both ITK and the Métis National Council.

While the congress is not a rights-holding organization, he said it has been a critical part of advocacy efforts related to the justice system, housing and human rights, especially for Indigenous people including Métis and Inuit who live off-reserve in urban or rural areas across the country.

“When I see these statements written by certain leaders, it’s like the government has chosen them to become the gatekeepers for the majority of [Indigenous] people who live off-reserve,” Beaudin said.

“They’re saying that they are our voice. Well, they’re not … they don’t speak on behalf of me. They don’t certainly speak on behalf of the community in terms of the provincial-territorial organizations [that First Nations are part of].”

Miranda Dubé, a spokesperson for the executive council of the Government of Manitoba which is hosting the meeting, said the Council of the Federation has “pursued meetings with all five national Indigenous organizations” since it was launched in 2004.

“They did so again this year, and four of those national organizations will be meeting with Canada’s premiers on Monday July 10 in Winnipeg — the Assembly of First Nations, the Native Women’s Association of Canada, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples and the Métis National Council,” she said in an email.

“While the meeting would have benefited from the additional participation of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, we respect their decision not to attend, a determination they have made in other meetings in other years.”

The Native Women’s Association of Canada did not respond to Nunatsiaq News’ request for comment.



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(15) Comments:

  1. Posted by Old timer on

    This is what u guys get when u keep voting for him what a joke!!

    • Posted by Pangloss on

      Nathan is undoubtedly a political animal… Though it’s unusual to see him exerting status and clout in such an open, even hostile way.

  2. Posted by Uvagut on

    I hope it works out in the end. Is there an IQ principle to follow to help guide on these issues or topics? What about inclusiveness or qanuqtuurniq , ikajuqatigiit or what else? Is there one for akkiraqturqniq or imminiqsurniq etc?
    It is the same as attending meetings, church, workshops or elsewhere, perhaps it could lead to betterment for all in the end. Inclusive.

    • Posted by NUNAVIMIUK on

      He s going to skip , a photo op

  3. Posted by iRoll on

    If there is one thing progressives love, it’s a purity contest.

  4. Posted by Mosesie on

    Must be no overseas travel, perks and enough photo ops for the ITK President. JK. Lol.

    These Forums as meetings are exactly where ITK should attend. Gotta talk sometime, gotta advocate sometime, and go to and do things uncomfortably when you represent Inuit collectively.

    • Posted by iThink on


      Nathan has taken a surprisingly exclusive stance here, gatekeeping legitimate political association, even identity.

      Its unfortunate he refused Nunatsiaqs request to comment further. I can’t be alone in wondering at the deeper reasoning. On the surface, at least, this appears elitist, snobbish, and unduly discriminatory.

  5. Posted by Truestory on

    I thought “Aboriginals” were from Australia, not Canada.

    • Posted by SARCASM on

      Thats true , here , in Canada , they are called ” FIRST NATIONS ” people.

  6. Posted by 867 on

    It’s great to see ITK and MNC take a stand against NWAC and CAP.
    Both organizations have dubious membership and erode the rights of Indigenous people by that virtue.

    • Posted by More Info Please on

      The information gaps in this story are unfortunate enough. Maybe you could explain what “dubious membership” means?

      • Posted by 867 on

        There’s plenty of information regarding their membership issues available through a Google search.

  7. Posted by Forever Amazed on

    I am sure he will be missed – not.
    Please note my sarcasm.
    Inuks, you need something better.

  8. Posted by Yes! on

    Nathan has already brought ITK to the worlds attention. Kudos to the work he’s done. Fake Inuit and First Nations need to be called out and stopped e.g. the Qalipu. Thank goodness Natan isn’t taking their BS.

  9. Posted by Unrepresented on

    So, Natan decides not to attend this important meeting and effectively leave Inuit with no representation.


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