Those of you who know me well, know I have a great affinity for world religions. I am a tremendous supporter of Israel and am fascinated with Judaism especially.
During my election campaign work, I’ve had the pleasure to work alongside some of Canada’s finest Jewish citizens – all dedicated to the cause of anti-racism, combating discrimination and antisemitism. Those same people are also dedicated to ending racism and discrimination against First Nations people as well and will fight tooth-and-nail alongside our people.
This week, I had the pleasure of doing a welcome song for the opening of Karen Mock’s (Liberal, Thornhill) election campaign. I’ve had the same pleasure for Anthony Rota (Liberal, Nipissing-Timiscaming) and The Right Hon. Paul Martin in 2004.
Karen respectfully and discretely presented me with a tobacco tie, as is our Anishinaabe custom. I was happy to speak in support of Karen, the Liberal aboriginal platform and provide a song for the group of about 150 people.
The day also featured a number of multi-cultural blessings. Shortly after the opening song, my new friend Rabbi Meir Gitlin, placed the mezzuzah on the doorpost of the campaign office. This little scroll is a reminder of God’s presence as well as keeping God in our minds and in our hearts.
The day also welcomed a blessing from the Muslim faith and a blessing song from a supportive, local Hindu leader.
Really, that’s my vision of Canada. A tolerant, supportive multicultural community with equal opportunity and hope for all people.
Now why on earth would I have a “vision of Canada”? After all… I’m NOT Canadian.
First and foremost, I am Anishinaabe. Not necessarily “Canadian” – but a citizen of another nation within Canada. When our ancestors signed the treaties, they did indeed state we would be a part of Canada and remain loyal to the Crown. As recent as the Constitutional talks of the 1980s, our Anishinabek leaders affirmed that “we wish to remain within Canada, but within a revised constitutional framework.”
I choose to respect my ancestors and be loyal to the Crown. As such, I choose to be a part of a multicultural Canada and I choose to fight for my vision of Canada. That’s why I’m involved in the election campaign and why I volunteer each and every time.
Still many First Nations take the position that they are not a part of Canada. Some feel we should vote or participate in another nation’s election.
We must remember that many of our ancestors and relatives fought long and hard for our right to become citizens of Canada and for our right to vote. We shouldn’t besmirch their good work by staying home and not getting involved.
I’ll give you one more reason to vote on May 2. We all know the consequences of a Harper majority on First Nations rights.