Keeping Indianson the Reserve

Today I read an article on the Globe and Mail called Harper Dismisses Radical Moves on Abortion and Gun Laws.

This post isn’t about abortion or gun laws it’s about this quote here: Canadians, he thinks, are comfortable with his government, even when they disagree with it, and he wants to reassure them he plans no radical moves.. “He” being Harper.

The fact that he believes that citizens of Canada don’t really care about the government and the decisions the governments make is pretty bold. A book I read called “Ill Fares The Land” by Tony Judt relates to Harper’s statement. Judt basically said in his book that “young people” don’t care (not verbatim). He mostly wrote about EU and the US, but I could agree that what he says in that book can be applied to Canada. Just ask any young Canadian today about the Gun law Harper put on the back burner again and how it’s supposed to make it easier to catch people who use guns to commit crime. Do you think they could answer? Or would they much rather answer a question about Bieber, Hilton or a Kardashian?

I do believe this can be changed. As an Aboriginal Canadian, I believe that Aboriginal Canadians can be the one to change this. How? Well, it’s plastered all over Stats-Can: Aboriginals are the fastest growing population, with the greater number of them being aged 18-27.

Even though I am a huge advocate/supporter to initiatives that support and motivate young Aboriginals, I am kind of a hypocrite when I write this post. I have never voted in my life (well since I turned 18–the “voting age” in Canada). I wanted to vote, except when I lived in the city closest to my reservation and I walked up to the polling station for the first time to vote I was told, “you have to go to the polling stations on your reservation.” I didn’t have a car, and couldn’t find a ride to the polling stations on my reservation. Did that mean that I had to change my address to my city address in order to vote off my reservation? Yup, it sure did. So that meant I had to change my identification to reflect my new address change (and that would mean I would lose some of my tax-exemption rights because when I present my tax-exemption card to some businesses they ask for my “proof of reserve address.” I have to prove to them the product is going to be used on reserve land.) Another form of racism? Maybe. Marginalization? Maybe. Or maybe it’s just another effort to keeping “Indians” on the “reserve”? Maybe.

Since moving to a Southwestern Ontario city, I have never voted since that time. I wonder how many more Aboriginals living off-reserve are in the same situation? If there are many, just think of the changes that can be made if Aboriginals knew that they could vote off-reserve without changing their address (just so they don’t lose some of their rights). Imagine if all Aboriginals who could vote, did vote, whether they live on or off-reserve. Just think of the changes that can be made then.

Do you think Harper would be thinking along the lines of, “Even if they disagreed, they wouldn’t care.” I think not.

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