Aboriginal community leader, Rebecca Chartrand,speaks up.

 

© Chuck Duboff   The following piece was written by my friend, and former teaching colleague, Rebecca Chartrand.  Rebecca and I taught together at Maples Collegiate; during this time we had many discussions about human rights and the challenges facing the Aboriginal community in Canada.  Since our teaching time together, Rebecca and I have met many times to discuss issues and it was with great pride that I watched Rebecca enter politics and run in this past federal election.  I know that Rebecca will continue to be an advocate for the Aboriginal community and a roll model from the next generation of Aboriginal leaders.

© Rebecca Chartrand

It’s time to speak up. I’ve contemplated what I learned from running in a federal election and there are many things that I continue to process. The one thing I am sure of is that it is time to speak up. I’ve recently declined an offer to run in the provincial election but realized we don’t need to be running in politics to speak out about important issues. Putting my name on a ballot gave me a broader and more definite audience but in meeting people you realize every voice matters and as a politicians these are the voices you must amplify. The issues and challenges I heard visiting communities are also my own- they become ours to address when you’re willing to share your time and your voice to speak up and to vote. Now is the time to do just that, speak up.

abor leaders

Politicians are currently attempting to get your vote, or not. Perhaps your voice and your vote is being taken for granted. Point is, make every vote count let people know what matters. There were issues that came up time and time again, like CFS and the outrageous number of our children that are in care

The fact is, this is a CRISES. We have too many of our children in care and it’s so difficult to reunite families. This system is not working and something has to be done. Ask yourself, who is speaking up about this issue that is currently running for a seat in provincial politics? If we don’t speak up now we will miss an opportunity for change. From now till election time politicians will be out making promises attempting to win your vote. After the election and the votes are counted those promises become the issues that government must work to implement. So whatever issues are important to you at this time whether it’s water management-such as ongoing flooding or the impacts of hydro on hunting, fishing or trapping, or a need to access essential services for your community -raise your voice. Create the conversation if it’s not happening, use your Facebook pages, weigh in on other conversations that may be taking place, read the paper, listen to the news.

stolen sisters

For too long many people, and especially Aboriginal people have felt voiceless, overlooked and for good reason. We were only given the right to vote in the 60’s. I learned that many of our people still don’t know the difference between a provincial and federal election, and part of the issue is because we have marginalized in our our homeland, which is why we need to keep this conversation going. Other nations of people who immigrate to Canada have a better turn out at the polls when they are given the right to vote. I believe this is based on their understanding of the importance of engaging in democratic processes- because those democratic processes afford them the opportunity to immigrate to Canada, and it is therefore one that should not be taken for granted. Whether we agree or not with how Canada founded we are all Canadians as much as we are All Treaty people. If we don’t understand this concept it’s all the more reason to keep the conversation going. The fact is, we can all benefit by raising our voices, by engaging in conversations that are meaningful and important. People felt empowered this time around because of efforts like Rock The Vote, because of your efforts and my own. I hope we each keep the fire burning. The provincial election takes place in April. Do you know what types of supports and services the province oversees? Do you know who is attempting to represent you in your area? Get involved, stay connected, your family and community deserve to be considered. They matter and so do you.

Winnipeg. September 29, 2015.

Liberal candidate for riding of Churchill-Keewatinook Aski, Rebecca Chartrand, speaks with Liberal leader Justin Trudaeu in Winnipeg on Sept 29th, 2015. (Adam Scotti/Liberal Party)

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