TWO NEW NORTHERN RIDINGS in ONTARIO – Wally McKay
It is understandable the mounting skepticism, mistrust and suspicion raised with the matter of the proposed two new electoral ridings in the north. The proposed ridings have been recommended by three of our own finest and credible persons led by Justice Joyce Pelletier and Theresa Hall and Eric Fisher, both former Chiefs, one from NAN and one from Treaty 3 3 regions and both are recognized for their beliefs, commitments and achievements.
I want to take you back to my personal experience in the 1970’s 80’s where I, along with my good wife Kelly, Murray Sinclair, former Judge and now Senator, with Moses Okimow, lawyer and Councillor from God’s River decided to launch Elijah Harper’s first campaign to win a riding in Manitoba politics. Elijah went on to become one of Manitoba’s most recognized politician.
When Canada was seeking approval from all provinces for their heralded Meech Lake Accord that First Nations viewed as unacceptable and in many instances detrimental to our First Nation nationhood. Elijah sat at Manitoba legislature and under great pressure from party colleagues, federal government officials to vote for the Meech Lake Accord. At every call for the vote Elijah said “NO”.
With him there and his message of NO he changed the course of Canada’s history and at that moment he single handedly preserved First Nations nationhood.
Elijah was there at the right time, at the right place for a right purpose.
We need more of our people to take such challenges and it might appear that “we are sending you into the lion’s den”, we must remember persons have walked out of lion’s den before.
Colonialism makes us skeptics and unfortunately we dismiss opportunities. The two new ridings provide us with the opportunity to vote for our own people to represent our people in at Queens Park. It was not until early 1960’s when we , as FNs, were finally granted the right to vote and ever since that time we have being voting for Non-Aboriginal persons.
We need our own people to be in legislature to be there at the right time, at the right place for the right purpose. We have fought for changes and changes come in different forms. When these changes come, our people expect us to be brave and courageous as real Innineewaug like our forefathers.