Yesterday evening, I sat amongst a crowd of people at TCU Place to hear a panel of four MP’s debate on topics to convince the public they were the person to lead the New Democratic party. The four candidates were Charlie Angus, Niki Ashton, Jagmeet Singh, and Guy Caron.
What I heard them saying when it came to Indigenous people were problems like poor housing situations, poverty, poor water quality, and a suicide crisis. It was interesting to hear a question concerning the NDP’s candidates’ stance on the nation-to-nation relationship with First Nations people in Canada. My perception about all of this is there is still lack of understanding about Indigenous people in Canada.
What I believe that the government needs to do is to stop looking at us like a problem they have to solve and start to see us as a nation equal to Canada that is capable of working alongside them. Yes, there is poor housing and overcrowded housing situations in our communities, there is poverty and not enough food to go around, not enough to pay for electricity and heat in the cold winter months, and our people continue to kill themselves daily both intentionally and unintentionally.
Yes, in my view part of the solution is to inject more funding into our communities for measures that are working. But a large part of the solution is for non-Indigenous people to educate themselves about how we would like to see our situations addressed by government leaders. The tricky part is answering “who do the government leaders listen to and consult with to build their understandings?”
Which takes me to what I seek to do with my consulting business. Through Free the Spirit Consulting, I want to offer some understandings to non-Indigenous people that come from a grassroots perspective. I have the experiences of seeing firsthand the situations we live in as Indigenous people in Canada: the good, the bad, and the ugly. One situation I see with the issue of poverty is children are going hungry and elders are being neglected, it truly is poverty. This is a way of life that doesn’t fit with who we are and how we have always lived. It conflicts with our ways and it doesn’t work for a lot of us.
So what do I believe are some things that need to happen? Help Indigenous people start to deal with trauma, work at repairing relationships damaged by colonialism, and set up a new political system that works better for Indigenous communities through consulting with Indigenous people.
In other words, acting on the nation-to-nation relationship that sees Indigenous people as a nation apart from the Canadian government… and not sitting under federal leaders to be controlled and handled as a smaller issues like old age pension plans, carbon taxes, and farmers’ assistance.