As an Indigenous person raised in a remote First Nation and on the land, I am very familiar with my cultural and traditional roots. It was a steep learning curve for me to adapt, adjust and fit into the non-Indigenous world when I first left Attawapiskat to further my education in the south.
Part of my learning experience had to do with figuring out what federal, provincial and municipal elections were all about. I also had little knowledge of how federal, provincial, regional or First Nation community political systems operated. Once I started to write, my work demanded a lot of research on all kinds of topics and of course political systems and issues were of interest to me.
Over the years I have learned a lot about Indigenous and non-Indigenous political systems – how they are set up, how they operate and what drives them. One thing I have discovered is about the kind of people that run for political office. Most of these people are motivated by money, power and ego. Thankfully, there are also many in both Indigenous and non-Indigenous politics that get involved because they want to make life better for people in general.
It also took time to figure out what political parties were all about, who they represented, how they are funded and what issues and beliefs they align with.
We need to understand what it means to be politically right-wing, centrist and left leaning. Here in Canada because we don’t have all that many political parties, so it isn’t difficult to look at the history, actions and people who make these parties operate. Many people don’t realize the differences in these political parties, and they think they are pretty much the same when in fact all of them have historic traits that tell us who they really represent.
I have come to understand that right-wing conservative parties and governments are more aligned with the very wealthy and the corporations of our land while holding on to status quo and outmoded ideals and beliefs.
I have learned that more centrist or Liberal parties and governments represent a mix of serving the wealthy and corporate world while providing support, assistance and development for average working people, minorities and the disadvantaged.
Over the years I have figured out that the left-leaning parties still have some support for the wealthy and corporate world. This of course has to do with the fact that the very wealthy and corporate entities in the world control the economy and they have a lot of power. Even left-wing parties and governments must satisfy the power brokers. However, they are heavily committed to assisting people and that includes minorities, the disadvantaged, the poor, women and Indigenous people.
At the same time, when you have a system that always bends to the wishes of powerful businesses, corporations and wealthy supporters and backers, it makes one wonder how democratic our political system is. Democracy comes from the Greek language meaning “demos” for people and “kratos” meaning to rule. When the influence of people to rule the land is weakened, it starts calling into question as to how much of a democracy we truly live in.
A new trend of hate has accompanied the growth of social media and is affecting elections everywhere. Sadly, we see our political leaders slandered, demonized and hated and most of this trend seems to be coming from the right. All we need to do is look at the last election in the United States to see how dangerous this thug-like move to the right is threatening democracy.
The most important thing that we can all do is vote, no matter what party we support. At the same time, we should recognize that those leaders spouting hate don’t have a place in our democratic system here in Canada. Hate, threats and thuggery have no place in our democracy.