Op-ed: Get out & vote this coming year
- John Lagimodiere | January 31, 2015
January is always a difficult but hopeful month. The first couple of weeks are dark, cold and exhausting as you adjust from the holiday stress and food binge. You drag yourself out of bed in the morning and don’t hit your stride until noon...and that’s only if the sun comes out. You live day to day but you look ahead with hope.
It is hard to keep going, but you know that if you get through January, things pick up, weather becomes bearable and school breaks and maybe a trip are on the horizon. Next thing you know it is spring and we can start appreciating why we live here because it is summer right away and the Rider season starts and you can go to the lake.
With that look forward feel and hope for the future, we felt it would be prudent to take out the long glass and look forward to some things we should all be paying attention to because we just can’t take January anymore.
An event that could have the biggest impact on Aboriginal people in 2015 will be the federal election. Frustration is high with the current regime across most sectors of Canada but the anger is highest in the Aboriginal community. Relations are bad and the government is imposing their agenda, but historically we don’t vote in elections so what do they care. Fortunately the last two years have been packed with political activism led by Idle No More. That activism and engagement of young Aboriginal people will hopefully turn into Aboriginal people voting. A group called Indigenous Vote 2015 has been created to get the Aboriginal vote out in the province. They have a Facebook page and are trying to organize across Saskatchewan. Great idea and the time is ripe to unite the Aboriginal vote. That block vote could have implications across Canada and help create a minority government or even unseat the Cons Gang. Do your part and vote in 2015.
Average Aboriginal citizens have to do their part as both the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations and the Métis Nation-Saskatchewan will likely not be the same once this year is out. Massive funding cuts at the FSIN have the Chiefs contemplating their structure and if they should drop two vice chief positions. For the time being the FSIN is being led by Chief Kim Jonathan, the first woman to be Chief in the organizations history. With vice Chief Heather Bear on the executive, the FSIN has two women and two men, vice chiefs Dutch Lerat and Bobby Cameron balancing out the leadership of their organization.
Chief Perry Bellegarde is now the National Chief at the AFN and not even days into his tenure, Prime Minister Harper was drawing lines insisting that an inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women wasn’t on their radar. It is clear that this issue and other pressing issues like on reserve education will have to wait for progress until after the next federal election. The solution for that? See the get out and vote stuff above.
The Métis Nation-Saskatchewan may not last the year. Not in its present form anyways. A court ordered meeting is being held mid January. In that meeting the Provincial Métis Council is supposed to set a date for the Legislative Assembly. After the Assembly, the MN-S may get its funding restored. Here is the problem. The judge told the PMC to follow their constitution. But according to the constitution well under half of the Locals that make up the organization actually qualify to be part of the organization which makes it impossible to decide who gets to attend, let alone how you form quorum. Oh so many challenges...but if it implodes, you watch two different organizations form and let the fun begin.
Always fun to watch the political picture, but now that we have that out of the way, here are some rapid fire things to watch for in 2015. Luke Apooch and Christopher Cook, the fellas also known as “the two guys who threw a snake at the Tim Horton’s lady cause they were drunk”, will be famous for exactly fifteen more minutes. And we would like to thank them for posting the video to Facebook. We send our thoughts to Outlaw the garter snake. The Bell of Batoche will be in the news again as Frog Lake rises up to claim its bell back. The folks at Ochapowace First Nation will host a wildly successful Summer Games in July. Nashville wins the Stanley Cup. Riders win the Grey Cup. John Bear (he is a famous Facebook guy from Ochap....funny. Never met him but love his humour) and his talking cat videos will be picked up by APTN. Saskatchewan wins the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships both boys and girls. Two men and two women run for Chief of FSIN in October. Someone wins.