Canada Needs To Carve Out An Indigenous Place in Government

Canada Needs To Carve Out An Indigenous Place in Government

When I initially went into Political Science, I didn’t really think much about the rights of Indigenous Canadians. To some degree, I didn’t really care. I feel bad for that now, but for my entire life I was told that indigenous were given and given and given by the government, and yet all they did was protest and didn’t run for politics enough, or really engage in university or the greater community. All racist assumptions that ignored the very real trauma that was experienced—and seemed to very conveniently ignore the pressure to live on reserves and stay “in their own community”.

I used to think that the solution for reconciliation was encouraging more indigenous to join parliament, to become a part of the conversation, and then hopefully we would eventually see change. Obviously, Jody Wilson-Raybould’s experience has been anything but the enlightenment of bringing indigenous into government.

I’ve always been compelled to say “this isn’t my conversation to have” when talking about indigenous rights. I am a French and Irish descendant, and I know that my experiences are nowhere near the same as indigenous Canadian’s experiences. Yet, the powers-that-be seem to be inclined to continuously ignore the indigenous voices. The situation in Canada is that we have a racist white lady in the position of Crown-Indigenous relations. How can any person very seriously look at this government in the wake of residential schools and think it’s a good idea to re-elect this woman? Either way, that’s their prerogative—and hopefully there’ll be a cabinet shift, but still—why was a white lady ever put in this political position in the first place? I highly doubt that Quebec would accept an Anglophone who didn’t speak French as their head of relations to the crown.

I am not a policymaker, I am just a girl with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science. I believe that indigenous voices must be at the forefront—and yet, this has been completely ignored in the political landscape. I no longer think we simply need to encourage indigenous voices to run for our government. I think our government needs to completely change. There needs to be new seats and a new section of the government that is guaranteed to indigenous voices. A certain % of new seats need to be added, and then dictated to bands and chiefs to elect and their will. No more “you’re free to join us in our rules”, it’s time to open up the House of Commons in a more than symbolical way.

If the way forward to make that change is by forcefully creating seats, then so be it. It’s not like democracy was some mythical creature that one day arose, every seat and district we have now was chosen, and it was chosen by colonialists. It’s very clear that our districts represent the cities and urban centers, and completely ignore large populations of Canada, particularly the indigenous. I now believe that there can be no reconciliation, no change, and no way forward for Canada until indigenous Canadians make up a significant part of the government.

What do you think?

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