While speaking with Windspeaker.com reporter, Shari Narine, Courtney Skye suggests
there is enormous pressure for wins in the list of Indigenous candidates. and very high
expectations once there is a win.
The 44th Election being held September 20th, 2021, is Skye’s first time voting in a federal
election. What she is looking for is nationhood, governance, and restoration of traditional
She told the reporter, “That’s the kind of thing that can only be done in our communities
internally. So that’s where I will put my attention to.”
As a policy analyst and research fellow with the Indigenous think-tank, the Yellowhead
Institute, Courtney Skye does not feel confident that higher numbers of Indigenous MP’s
relate to a stronger stand for Indigenous concerns and issues. Although she comments
that she has seen changes made in programming, she has not, however, seen changes
made in Canada’s systems.
She believes the system as it exists is embedded with old ways that will be very difficult
to deconstruct internally.
“I believe there are exceedingly high expectations once there is a win.”Skye stated
Niigaan Sinclair, assistant professor of Native Studies at the University of Manitoba,
goes a step further by stating he believes those expectations are unrealistic in a party
system as “Canadian political parties serve Canadian political interests, period.”
“Indigenous MPs can only make an “incremental difference,” he says.
Arlen Dumas, Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, does not hold the same
view as Skye or Sinclair. She calls attention to the accomplished by Nunavik NDP MP,
Saganash, a lawyer of Cree decent, brought forth the United Nations Declaration on the
Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, through its’ many stages. It passed Royal Assent and
was given Bill C-15 Statute on June 21, 2021.
“I truly appreciate his individual efforts. Romeo singlehandedly brought forward United
Nations legislation. He stimulated conversations and opportunities,” said Dumas.
If one MP is able and determined to put forth a bill as imperative to First Nations, Metis, and Inuit, all Indigenous peoples future as C-15, it is exciting to think of what 77 MPs could do. The Canadian Press determined that is the number of Indigenous people running in this election. If each could speak to Canada about their reasons for running, what do you think their first and foremost political ambition would be?
Both Dumas and Assembly of First Nations National Chief, RoseAnne Archibald, have
been vocal in encouraging First Nations voters to support First Nations and all other
Indigenous issues have quietly returned to the back burner throughout most of the
election campaign. With all certainty, they will be hammered on and used as “shame on
you” arguments by each party in both the French and English leaders’ debates.
In the French debate candidates focus on cultural industries and cultural identity, while
during the English debate, Reconciliation is being addressed.
“Notice when you have a minority parliament you have the most amount of success for
Indigenous peoples.” Sinclair points out.“And when the Liberals were a majority, almost
nothing got done for Indigenous peoples. Niigaan Sinclair’s opinion is, “That just tells
you how a minority parliament is the best situation for Indigenous peoples. It’s worth
noting they’ve passed the most amount of bills in relation to Indigenous peoples when
they have the NDP in their government, propping them up.”
On an individual basis, people can choose to use the opportunity they have to advocate
and promote change. It is considered, that if every Indigenous person legally able to
vote, did so, there could be a shift not yet seen on the Canadian political platform. It
would give Indigenous peoples across Canada a voice. A voice speaking for Truth and
Reconciliation, for the opportunity, and for respect of traditional teachings and ways. They
could be heard when they say, “It’s Time for Change”!
The winds of change are most certainly whispering “Your mark on the ballet gives you
the chance to open the window wide so all can hear and see clearly on September 20,