By: Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The lobby group mandated to speak on behalf of off-reserve and Canada’s urban Indigenous population is calling on Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller to step down.

The Congress of Aboriginal People (CAP) say they have lost faith in Miller’s leadership and are calling on the Crown-Indigenous Relations minister to step down.

The ‘Congress of Aboriginal Peoples has lost faith in Crown Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller after years of ignoring and excluding hundreds of thousands of off-reserve, non-status, Metis and Southern Labrador Inuit Indigenous people,’ the group said.

CAP national chief Elmer St-Pierre said the Trudeau government – which has been in power since 2015 – has systematically excluded the off-reserve and urban Indigenous population in Canada.

“CAP has spent 52 years advocating for our people and fighting assimilation, yet the Trudeau government is dead set on ignoring the needs of urban and rural Indigenous people – a policy of partisanship and division,” said St. Pierre. “The government’s own statistics clearly show the majority of Indigenous people now live off-reserve and in urban and rural areas. Despite their growing needs, Indigenous people living in cities and rural areas struggle to find the same supports as those living on-reserve or in northern settlements.”

Miller’s office could not be reached by press time.

CAP cited its exclusion from the National Reconciliation Council, amongst other slights – all of which add up to evidence that Miller hasn’t any interest in working for, and on behalf of, Canada’s off-reserve Indigenous population. In another slight, Miller credited another national Indigenous organization for work done by former CAP leader Harry Daniels.

CAP national vice-chief Kim Beaudin said the comments were ill-advised.

“Those comments were not just an insult to former CAP leader Harry Daniels who spearheaded the 17-year-long legal battle, but an insult to the hundreds of thousands of Indigenous peoples who still lack the support of the federal government,” said CAP National vice-chief Kim Beaudin. “Whether the comment was an insult or lack of knowledge, the minister has consistently displayed his intentions to dismiss our people and divide our communities based on where they live. He must step down and allow for new leadership that will approach our issues in an inclusive way. Life is not getting better for our people and serious change is needed.”