Last week Red Deer was privy to a visit from the National Chief of Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, Dwight Dorey.
Dorey is currently engaging in a tour that will be bringing him from coast to coast to discuss the needs, issues and opinions of those in his constituency. As the current leader of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP), Dorey looks into the interests of all off-reserve status and non-status Indians, Metis and Southern Inuit Aboriginal peoples.
He said this engagement tour is an opportunity for him to hear what people living off-reserve and in urban areas are dealing with and what concerns they have to bring forward.
“I think the Red Deer visit was a good opportunity to get connected with people. Some of the questions and comments people had were very effective in terms of the kind of information I’m looking to get,” Dorey said. “I felt that there was generally a good, positive response to the presentation I made about who are as the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples. Already on this grassroots tour I’ve had the opportunities to meet with some of the provincial and municipal government officials in Calgary and Edmonton. My opinion is that the people in these jurisdictions have an optimistic view and seem to be encouraged with the opportunity to be working in partnership again with federal government.”
“The whole sense of partnership is being felt all throughout my trip, and that’s quite encouraging.”
Dorey was met by approximately 25 members of the local community, who brought up issues such as working with governments to potentially see the missing and murdered women in context as a hate crime and readjusting financial distribution from industries such as mining, logging, etc. that are done on reserve lands and treaty-protected regions.
He said he was pleased to receive information about what was important to this region.
“This is my first go-around, and I definitely will be back in this area sometime in the near future,” he said.
“I’m getting very positive input and interest from different community groups that are interested in affiliating with our congress. We don’t technically have an affiliate in this area right now. I had dinner with some people here and it was great because they are ready to get to work and I’m ready to have them join us.”
Dorey has already travelled through several regions in British Columbia, and is making his way up to the Northwest Territories and Yukon before taking a small break. He will then return to the next leg of his tour.
“I’m planning to make at least two or three stops in major centres of each province. In addition to that, I’m meeting with various government officials, both municipal and provincial. While I’m in Yellowknife, I’ll be having dinner with the premier there. As well, I met with some officials in Edmonton from the Aboriginal Affairs section,” he said.
He added he is glad to be developing relationships with local and provincial branches of government, as well as engaging the federal government with the concerns he hears during these meetings.
In regards to the issues of the national inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report, Dorey said he is so far pleased with how the federal government was navigating these issues. “The official ministers of these issues are involved currently and are taking a sort of first go-around meeting with the victims of the violence – the families. It’s a very important first step,” he said.
Dorey said he enjoyed his time in Red Deer and was eager to use the information gathered here in his overall report that he will bring back to the federal government.