Dear Mr. Bellegarde:
Re: Aboriginal Voter Registration – October 2015 Federal Election & Climate Change
My name is Darryl Angus and I am from Onion Lake Cree Nation. I currently reside in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan. I would like to formally thank you for publicly announcing as National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations during the July, 2015, AFN’s annual gathering in Montreal, requesting that all First Nations vote in the upcoming federal election slated for October, 2015. I highly commend you for addressing this very important issue. I am also writing to you concerning climate change.
First of all, as you are aware, the current and past political relationship between Canada’s First Nations and the federal Conservative Party of Canada, under the leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper has not been favorable for all First Nations. Ever since the conservatives came into power in January, 2006, relations between First Nations and the Harper government has been severely strained, due to the development of draconian policy and legislation imposed upon Canada’s Aboriginal people.
Legislation such as Bill c-45 “Omnibus Bill”, Bill c-51 “Anti-terrorism Act”, along with Bill c-23 “Fair Elections Act”, are nothing more than the Harper conservatives discreetly and expeditiously eroding Aboriginal Treaty rights and undermining democracy in Canada. Thus, this raises suspicion that these federal policies have been systematically developed and targeted specifically toward Canada’s First Nations people. It seems like we are reliving the 1969 White Paper policy era when former Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau attempted to unilaterally extinguish Aboriginal Treaty rights along with the privatization of First Nations’ reserved lands.
The more cognizant, vocal, and resistant our people become (Idle No More), in protesting and challenging giant oil and gas corporations (Major pipeline development) to protect Mother Earth, along with the increase in the Indigenous population, the more we become a threat to the federal government. Bill c-45, Bill c-51, and Bill c-23 are intended in my opinion to significantly suppress and erode Aboriginal rights.
The more First Nations continue to be ignorant, apathetic, and resistant toward becoming active participants in federal elections – the more we collectively provide consent for the Harper conservatives to do as they please in developing policies that will negatively impact First Nations in the areas of health, education, child welfare, and justice. I have been expressing my concern with regard to this serious issue of voter apathy amongst the Aboriginal population since 1999. I firmly believe that all First Nations have had enough of what the Harper government has been doing since 2006, and this is certainly indicative as in response to development of the Idle No More movement in December, 2012.
Which now leaves us to question: “What can I do as an individual to create hope for positive change for me and the future of my children and the future of Mother Earth – protest and temporarily delay policy development and the development of major pipe lines in their eventual destruction of our planet promulgated by the conservatives, or vote in the next federal election and oust the conservatives and vote for a political party that will hopefully use common sense and start thinking about future generations and the implications of climate Change?”, if there is to be no form of intervention coming from First Nations collectively – the repercussions will negatively affect all of us in the end.
What will need to happen is all First Nations across Canada will need to wake up now and head to polling stations this October, in massive numbers similar to what happened during the Idle No More movement, and strategically vote for a political party that will address their concerns, and hopefully oust the conservatives out of power. First Nations Chiefs across Canada will need to be on board and support their membership, as well as one another, despite of their differences with respect to their opposing views of First Nations becoming involved in federal elections. They will need to be informed and reminded that at the end of the day – it is the federal government who allocates a majority of the funding in keeping all First Nations programs afloat in the rapids of Canadian federal politics, despite cuts which further exacerbates and negatively impacts every First Nations citizen in this country.
When I heard reports of you requesting for all First Nations to vote in the upcoming federal election, I thought: “Finally! Someone is taking true leadership and courage in addressing voter apathy amongst the Aboriginal population in Canada. Finally, we’re getting somewhere, especially when this issue is being addressed from the highest order of First Nations government – the Assembly of First Nations”. I commend you for your courage in addressing this contentious issue concerning First Nations voting in federal elections. Keep up the good work! What you’ve done is most certainly a start to igniting much needed political discourse amongst many First Nations individuals and leaders across Canada.
Most importantly, I am also a firm believer in ecological justice. This is another serious issue that will need to be addressed continuously and prioritized by all levels of government. We are now at a crucial juncture where we will all need to collectively exercise our free will and decide where our priorities are heading – promoting and sustaining balance of Mother Earth or economic greed?
My late grandmother who had raised me and my siblings had informed us during the 1970s that our First Nations spiritual leaders had predicted that Mother Earth will be cleansing itself, due to the devastation, imbalance, disruption, and violation of natural law inflicted upon it caused by human greed. According to my grandmother, these spiritual leaders had prophesied via spiritual ceremony in the early 1900s, prior to the discovery of fossil fuels, that there would be an increase in natural disasters caused by tornadoes, massive flooding – and forest fires, just to name a few, occurring in the future mainly in highly developed densely populated areas.
We are now entering this time period. This had been confirmed as to what had happened back in 2011 when the town of Slave Lake in Northern Alberta sustained close to one billion dollars worth of damage caused by forest fires to public and private infrastructure. As well as the major flood that took place in the city of Calgary in spring, 2013, where billions of dollars’ worth of damage was sustained as a result of Mother Earth’s natural reaction to its current state of imbalance. We have also witnessed in summer, 2015, the devastation and financial costs of what forest fires can create in disrupting human lives in the northern boreal areas of British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan.
Spiritual leaders had also predicted that future generations would be buying water due to environmental pollution. We are now seeing this as well where we as consumers buy bottled drinking water at convenience stores, supermarkets, or water distribution outlets due to our distrust of tap water. Every other week we see or hear in the media reports of many First Nations as well as non-First Nations communities going on boil water advisory situations. It’s time for everyone to come to their senses and collectively advocate for the protection of future generations and Mother Earth – if economic greed pervades, the consequences will be overwhelming.
Lastly, this letter ends in the following Cree First Nation prophesy: “Only after the last tree has been cut down, only after the last river has been poisoned, only after the last fish has been caught, only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.”