Liberals

Canada & State of Emergency

Warning: This post might anger some.

Here are other posts that I previously written about State of Emergencies occurring in Canada at various times and in various regions:

Thanks to a friend on facebook, I came across this link: Pikangikum Declares a State of Emergency. This is due to drinking water. Water is being flown in. Can you believe that! In Canada, water is being flown to people, and pending weather conditions.

To me this is outrageous. It is even more outrageous that this type of thing has gone on for years. It is even more outrageous that it is rarely addressed in major news sources like Globe and Mail. I did a basic search from the main site google search with the key words “State of Emergency” (Simple enough, right?) and up came more than a 100 searches. Here is a screen shot of the first page only.

State of Emergency

I just have to say I am not impressed. I will tell you why I am not impressed. This past winter a state of emergency was called in Southwestern ON. They needed to rescue Canadians from a winter snow storm. Yup, rescue Canadians from a winter snow storm. A snow storm these people decided to drive in, or that they accidentally were caught in. One man died in this snow storm because he decided to abandon his car and walk in the snow storm. I don’t mean no disrespect to anyone, but really…Who drives in a snow storm? And even worse, who walks in the middle of nowhere in the snowstorm? THIS is Canada people, expect snow storms and expect to stay home because of the snow. What we shouldn’t expect is for hundreds of individuals living in Canada to go without drinking water during cold months, and for days or even weeks on end.

THAT is outrageous.

Yes, I warned you that this post might anger you…and if it has angered you because I just wrote that, then you are experiencing the anger I feel and countless other First Nations people feel across Canada because they live in “State of Emergency” almost everyday, for weeks, sometimes weeks on end (I have never experienced living in a State of Emergency, but I have met other First Nations people who have and have had friends who did live in these states… it’s not something that Canada should be proud of)

This makes me wonder where Canada’s priorities are especially after attending a Liberal party rally in London ON, where I asked Michael Ignatieff, 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?**

**You can read the full post with that question and my experiences at the rally by clicking on the full quote.

This is an important time for First Nations people to not only speak up and vote, but to also fight for change because of the current political happenings and the elections. I hope that First Nations people can fight for change beyond just voting, and make their voices heard in whichever way possible.

This is why I started this blog, and I hope others can make their voices heard in a similarly positive way.

I encourage everyone and anyone who feels that they have a cause to be listened to and heard of to speak up.

Like I said in another post, titled Election 41 or #elxn41, if you think you are just one in one million–that is a good thing, because that is a lot of chances for someone to be thinking the same thing you are. Just speak up, or ask someone to speak up for you! Trust me, you are not alone and someone will listen…

Just look at what this one girl did: Shannen’s dream. This is an amazing story, yet so sad that the girl’s life ended early… It is great to see that her fight for her community lives on–it is sad that her community had experienced this (both the school and the loss of a strong, young Aboriginal female).

But always remember people, this post and its information shared here are happening TODAY and in Canada… this isn’t 10, 20, 50, 100 years ago.

This is today, and it needs to change!

Liberal Party

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:

  1. He acknowledged that First Nations have these issues.
  2. He acknowledged that some First Nations homes don’t have drinking water, and others do not even have toilets.
  3. He replied to the question by saying that he spoke with a Chief in Winnipeg and he told the Chief this…
  4. 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!

Crime Rates & Minimum Sentences

Two articles in the Globe and Mail recently:

If crime rate is low, why do you require minimum sentences for something as petty as having SIX marijuana plants? Having SIX marijuana plants I think is no where NEAR any amount to be considered at the level of “trafficking.” Please note: I am not for for drug use, nor am I for criminal activity.

I think the Bill S-10 on minimum sentences is a bit over the top. I also believe that it will greatly affect Aboriginals and youth, as highlighted in the article, Liberals Come Out Against Tory “Dumb on Crime” Legislation.

Aboriginals are already over-represented in the criminal justice system. I wonder how this bill will affect Gladue Court decisions involving Aboriginals who enter the justice system under the Gladue Court.

You can read my other post on Criminal Pardons. Here, it is proposed that price to pay to get a pardon is considered to be raised.

I guess the Conservatives don’t realize that the Criminal Code of Canada is meant to do the following:

Purpose
718. The fundamental purpose of sentencing is to contribute, along with crime prevention initiatives, to respect for the law and the maintenance of a just, peaceful and safe society by imposing just sanctions that have one or more of the following objectives:

(a) to denounce unlawful conduct;

(b) to deter the offender and other persons from committing offences;

(c) to separate offenders from society, where necessary;

(d) TO ASSIST IN REHABILITATING THE OFFENDER;

(e) to provide reparations for harm done to victims or to the community; and

(f) to promote a sense of responsibility in offenders, and acknowledgment of the harm done to victims and to the community.
As taken from Canlii.ca

It would be nice if the Conservatives showed at least a bit of realization of the entire purpose of the Criminal Code of Canada and not just the part where it says “to separate offenders from society.” Creating more legislation that further marginalizes the Aboriginal people in Canada and the issues that they face (like being over-represented in the criminal justice system), just doesn’t do any good for the entire Canada society–Especially since Aboriginals are the fastest growing population in Canada (especially between the ages of 18-26). Read about those stats on Stats Can.

Creating more legislation for criminal activity doesn’t “denounce” or “deter” criminal activity, it just means it’s more than likely crime will go further unreported especially since “criminals” may be working harder at not “getting caught.” (Meaning, crime will go further unreported since it may be harder to detect crime–as mentioned in “Think Tank article above.)

Sorry Mr. Harper, but more bills/legislation pertaining to the Criminal Code of Canada won’t change crime rates or crime reporting, it just presents the reality that rehabilitation of the offender, or the full recognition of this major federal legislation, is not on your agenda: only a part of it. Additionally, your bills further oppress Aboriginals (and even youth). What a way to make for a better Canada–hurt the fastest growing population and the future of Canada!