Last night was the London Ontario Liberal Party Rally. I had the opportunity to attend with a friend who is really a great person when it comes to engaging in other Aboriginal youth.
You can check him out on his twitter here: Chad Cowie!
Last night, Chad and I were randomly picked to sit on the stage right behind the party. It was quite exciting to say the least, and definitely most random. The highlight of the night was the moment I got to ask a question. I was hesitant at first because I wanted to see the range of questions to be asked, and if there was a theme to the questions (I didn’t want to be the one to stray off topic). After a few questions had been asked, I noticed that there really wasn’t theme to the questions asked. It was pretty much anything goes. That’s what I liked about this rally. Any thing did go. There were questions asked ranging from veterans, Canadian Armed Forces, rural families, farming families, health care, pharmacy, education, youth, the gap between the rich and the poor. My question: water potability issues on First Nations in Canada.
I am very thankful to say that I never had experienced no-drinking-water crisis on my First Nation (well, none that I can remember). However, I do have a lot of friends who either live in this state or have grown up in this state. No drinking water. It’s quite a puzzle to figure out especially if you have grown up in Canada or come from another country to live in Canada. I mean, isn’t Canada known for its fresh water and water resources? How can a specific group within Canada experience such issues and experience this at such alarming rates? You can check out water potability issues on First Nations at Project Blue.
Clearly this is an issue and I wanted to see how Liberal Party Leader Ignatieff is going to handle it if elected.
I asked him the following question:
You mentioned internet access for all Canadians earlier, seeing that more than hundred First Nations in Canada still have water potability issues, why not drinking water for everyone?**
**I cannot take full credit for the question as this question was sent to me through my twitter account.
Well, I can’t remember his reply verbatim but I can give you somewhat of a summary of what he said:
- He acknowledged that First Nations have these issues.
- He acknowledged that some First Nations homes don’t have drinking water, and others do not even have toilets.
- He replied to the question by saying that he spoke with a Chief in Winnipeg and he told the Chief this…
- Prepare a budget, tell me what you need, and I will find competitive bids; I will help fix the problem.
One might say, “Well, that’s not a very good answer.” Let me make a point here: it was a great answer. He acknowledged that he is willing to listen to what First Nations and their leaders need to help fix the issue. However, the above final point, was not a very good answer, but it was better than saying “There’s nothing I can do” or “I am not sure” or “I don’t know”. This is a complex issue and he gave the best answer that he could. He gave hope. I say this because, these issues run much deeper than that. So what, water issues have to be fixed. Then what? What about long-term health issues created by these water issues. Those have to be tended to as well.
Ignatieff also addressed there is a health crisis in Canada, especially when it comes to diabetes and especially when it comes to Aboriginals and diabetes. The fact that he addressed so many issues last night, even acknowledging the issues that Aboriginal people’s face, is great hope for Canada. Yet, the hope just does not stop there. As Aboriginal people living in Canada we have to become more involved. That just doesn’t mean involved in education, careers, communities… that also means becoming more involved in politics. I know that doesn’t sound as fun as it should, but it is.
Since I have been involved more (Thanks to my friend Chad), I have been more hopeful about change happening in Canada. But the change doesn’t just happen with one person. Change happens when we work together as a group. Currently, I have not seen/heard the other parties talk about or address Aboriginal issues in Canada. The Liberal Party has. Yes bills may have been introduced under the Conservative government, but how many “holes” have been in those bills, or how many pieces of legislation have forgotten about Aboriginal issues (Remember Truth in Sentencing Act?).
I am not trying to promote one party over the other, I am just trying to lay out the facts. What I am trying to say is Aboriginal people as a group have to come together and be more involved in all aspects of Canadian Culture if we want change to happen. If we want change, vote for the party and its platform that is most appealing to you. But you can’t just stop there. If you don’t see the party following through with its platform, or with its promises, you as a voter should follow up. So what if you are just one person, find another person.. and another person. Start the ball rolling on change. Change just doesn’t happen over night, but it is easier than you think.
To sum up what I said in this post in one word… VOTE!