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Voices ᐋ ᐄᔮᔨᐧᒫᓂᐧᐃᒡ

Kitchi-Meegwetch Wab Kinew

BY Xavier Kataquapit Nov 12, 2023

I am feeling a little better about the state of democracy these days thanks to the election of Wab Kinew as Canada’s first Anishinabe Premier. He was elected recently with a majority government in Manitoba. So, congratulations to Wab and his New Democratic Party team and thanks to all those members of the voting public who made their decision based on values that have to do with social democratic ideals of sharing, openness, tolerance and caring for everyone, the environment and the future of our planet. The fact that he has promised to save and enhance the public healthcare system is a bonus.

The main reason I am so happy about this win for the NDP is because this was not an easy victory. We are living in a time when our mainstream media and much of the social media are run by huge international corporations backed by the very wealthy who push right-wing ideals and parties. 

Just think about it. How many mainstream television media broadcast, print, radio or social platforms are owned and operated by Indigenous peoples, minorities, the poor, single moms and in general the disenfranchised? Of course, the answer is none as they are all owned and controlled by very wealthy corporate interests that push a right-wing agenda most of the time. That is why I am so happy with Wab’s big win and the fact that he represents Indigenous people and all others who are minorities is just wonderful. 

This election reminds me of the old saying: “You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” 

Even with all the mainstream media for the most part lined up against the NDP and all the money backing centrist and conservative parties, people still managed to have a deeper look at how democracy would best be served in Manitoba, and they decided Wab was a good choice. 

As they say, money talks, and all over the world right-wing parties almost always get the support of the very wealthy, the big corporations and lobbyists. It is not easy for those on the left or in the middle, who are more socially democratic, to get elected. Part of the reason is that mainstream media, which is corporate owned, is also funded to a great degree by wealthy interests who prefer a right-wing style of government that will reward the very wealthy, ignore as much as they can about climate change due to global warming, are generally anti-union and not very supportive of Indigenous peoples, minorities and the disenfranchised. 

Could it be that even if the cards are stacked up against the general voting public, we are seeing through all the propaganda strewn with misinformation and hate and we are now choosing more kind, open, tolerant and sharing governments dedicated to the common person rather than the wealthy dominating few. 

Most Indigenous people don’t really understand to a great degree how politics works and who represents Canadians. Thirty years ago, as a young man, my understanding of what the different parties meant in terms of representation was almost nil as was the case with most of the Indigenous people I was surrounded by. Along the way we began to figure out just what politics was all about and many of us became very wary of any politician with their speeches promising all kinds of things. We also grew to understand that when we stood up as Indigenous peoples for our rights, for our treaties, to protect rivers and lakes, and protest negative environmental initiatives we did not get a lot of support from all governments and parties. 

I know firsthand that Indigenous people across Canada are standing with more confidence, more pride and more hope with the election in Manitoba of Wab Kinew. This is an historic moment and one that I hope will be replicated more and more as we realize it is up to all of us to vote for the good path in leadership for a fair, safe and positive future. 

Kitchi-Meegwetch (thanks very much) Wab Kinew.

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Xavier Kataquapit is Cree from Attawapiskat First Nation on the James Bay coast. He is a writer and columnist who has written about his life and Indigenous issues since 1998.