THUNDER BAY – POLITICS – Last night’s community meeting with Green Party Leadership hopeful David Merner at the Lakehead Unitarian Fellowship was an open discussion on issues specific to Thunder Bay.
Adopting a Circle process, the 21 people present focused on issues that affect Indigenous communities in Treaty 3, and Treaty 9. Participants discussed concerns about drinking water, land use, racism, injustice, and economic development.
Participants agreed that what is best for First Nations Communities in the region is also what is best for Thunder Bay.
“How do we change the conversation to ‘strong families make strong communities’? Strong families build a strong nation. What is good for the families of Couchiching First Nation is also good for the families of Thunder Bay. How do we have that conversation?” asked Robin Rickards.
“It’s sad that racism is becoming normal. I just want future generations to be able to go out in the afternoon and not be afraid” said Tanaya Tomagatick of Moosefactory. Tomagatick is a local community advocate, well known for her support of the Wet’suet’en Hereditary Chiefs and an opponent to the Coastal GasLink Pipeline.
Merner pursued a career in law specifically because of Indigenous issues. Professionally, he worked as General Counsel at Department Justice Canada and BC Ministry if Attorney General.
He’s a strong supporter of Minister of Justice and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould’s work to require federal government lawyers to utilize non-adversarial means when dealing with Indigenous matters. This directive was a positive first step, but the implementation of such approaches should be realized throughout Canada’s justice system.
“When dealing with disputes, the key is effective communication. We need to create space for all parties to listen actively and speak honestly.” Merner said about effective nation to nation communications.
Merner is encouraging open conversations across the country as he visits communities in his Green Party Leadership listening campaign. With the current leadership contest to succeed Elizabeth May underway, Merner has begun a series of Circle discussions about specific community issues.
Discussion times and locations can be found on his website at https://www.davidmerner.com/about.
Submitted by Amanda Moddejonge.