THUNDER BAY – EDITORIAL – The collective soul of Canada has been clouded by Conservative policy. Canada’s spirit will only be repaired through reconciliation.
On Monday, Canadians have the opportunity to elect a new government that should make reconciling, repairing and rebuilding the relationship between First Nations and Canada a top priority.
Voters should ask themselves, “What kind of Canada do we want? Can we accept a country where people live worse because they are status Indians? Or do we want a Canada that is fair and inclusive for all of its citizens, whether indigenous or not?”
Let’s be blunt, the current Conservative government has done great damage to this country. The Conservatives do not believe in fairness and inclusivity for all, whether they are recently arrived immigrants with their own unique religious beliefs, or our own Indigenous peoples with cultures and languages thousands of years old.
This government says Canada has no room for the niqab or the wampum belt, the scientist or the elder, indigenous women or refugee children. Is this the Canada we want?
The Harper Government has been discriminatory and divisive — pitting Canadians against each other. This government has sown the seeds of racism and fear. Is this the Canada we want?
The Harper Government has held back a billion dollars in essential services to Indigenous peoples. As a result, First Nations are suffering from increasing levels of poor health directly related to contaminated drinking water, lack of affordable food, and overcrowded, substandard housing. Is this the Canada we want?
The seemingly endless cycle of poverty and despair has resulted in far too many missing and murdered Indigenous women, far too many of our children in care, and far too many of our young people committing suicide. Is this the Canada we want?
All we want is what all Canadians want for themselves and their families– whether they are newcomers or fourth generation settlers. We want our children to be safe, to be secure, and to be successful.
We don’t believe that race, ethnicity, or nationality should determine your standard of living. We believe that everyone should share in the wealth of this land, just like our ancestors did when they signed the Treaties that created Canada.
The time for inaction and broken promises made by both the current and successive governments must end now. If politicians truly believe in fairness for all, then it’s time to make major investments that will benefit all Canadians.
We need to start with the determinants of health: clean water, affordable food, safe homes. These three critical elements will, no doubt, require investments totalling billions of dollars.
Every party has committed to do better except one.
Once these investments are made, our Peoples will become healthy, happy contributors to their communities and to this country. We will finally break free of these prisons of poverty, and pay back those investments tenfold in the decades to come.
This is the Canada we want. This is the Canada you can vote for.
Isadore Day, Wiindawtegowinini, AFN Regional Chief Ontario