PMO yet to respond to First Nations' call for meeting

Grand Chief Murray Clearsky of the Southern Chiefs Organization, Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, and Aboriginal elder Ernie Daniels talk to reporters on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, January 18, 2013.



OTTAWA - The Prime Minister's Office has yet to respond the latest Assembly of First Nations' (AFN) request for a meeting with Stephen Harper and the governor general.

The AFN, which operates as an umbrella advocacy organization, reiterated its request for a joint meeting in a letter on Saturday.

It is unclear if the AFN will hear back on the proposal.

In the note, the AFN executive asks Harper and Gov. Gen. David Johnston to attend a meeting "on the preferred date" of Jan. 24, and specified the need to follow up on the Jan. 11 meeting with some chiefs, including AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo.

The Prime Minister's Office confirmed it received the letter Monday but made no suggestion plans are in the works for a meeting Thursday -- the one-year anniversary of last January's Crown-First Nations gathering.

Talks between Harper, Atleo and other aboriginal leaders on Jan. 11 were opposed by chiefs from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories and Ontario because Johnston did not attend.

There were also concerns about the number of chiefs allowed to participate in the closed-door discussions. More than 600 chiefs make up the framework of the AFN.

Following the Jan. 11 discussions, Harper committed to a high level of dialogue on aboriginal affairs and vowed to meet with Atleo again in coming weeks.

Atleo has been on sick leave since Jan. 14.

In recent weeks, Idle No More protesters have held nationwide demonstrations to raise awareness about plights facing aboriginals including poverty and gaps in education.

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