THUNDER BAY – Ontario’s First Nations have a serious choice and opportunity during the federal election, according to Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day.
Chief Day explains, “This is going to be the longest federal election campaign in Canadian history, with the most money spent on an election this country has ever witnessed”.
“Canada must immediately change the way it works with First Nations,” said Chief Sara Mainville, Couchiching First Nation. “We will not allow one more lost generation. The next government must commit to do much better for our youth.”
First Nations youth are one of the fastest growing segments of the Canadian population. However, over half of all First Nations youth live in poverty.
“When Canadians go to the polls, they must remember that Canada is only as strong as its relationship with First Nations peoples. Canada was founded on that Treaty relationship, and when it fails, we all fail,” said Regional Chief Day.
The economic track record that the Conservatives tout as their marker of success has no bearing or relevance in the lives of First Nations families say Chiefs in Ontario.
“People living in First Nations are 31 times more likely than other Canadians to contract tuberculosis. We are three to five times as likely to develop diabetes. We bear a disproportionate risk of traumatic injury. And Our rates of infectious disease and suicide are significantly higher. Compound this with staggering rates of addiction to opioids – we know there is a problem; yet this is not elevated in anyone’s campaign,” argues Ontario Regional Chief, Isadore Day.
Chief Day also says that he is encouraged by the words of some of the party leaders acknowledgements about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and issues like honouring the treaties but wants more volume and voice to these issues from the leaders on their campaign trail in the mainstream.
Chief Day says that “The sentiment that First Nation issues are mainstream issues and should be the priority of all Canadians is key”.
“It’s one thing to come and seek out support as First Nations and give recognition to us on these issues – but the tale will truly be told to the mainstream Canadian voter. I implore all federal leader hopefuls to go proclaim their commitments about First Nations to their constituents,” implored Day.
The Ontario Regional Chief has met with the leaders of the New Democrats, the Liberal Party, and the Green Party.
“The reality about where Canada is as a country is that Canadians must be provided the ability to have a National Dialogue on critical issues that face them and their future. The lives of First Nations people, treaty lands, environmental issues – these all involve important decision-making with First Nations across this country; anyone seeking to become Prime Minister should be making it clear to the Canadian voter – First Nation issues must be a priority for all Canadians,” says Day.