OTTAWA – Lorraine Whitman, President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) has the following words for Indigenous women living in Canada:
Kwe kwe, wela’lin. I am reaching out to all First Nations, Métis, and Inuit women who are deciding whether they will vote in the federal election that will take place on September 20, 2021. I am urging you to mark a ballot.
You may think that one vote will make no difference. Sisters, many individual races for seats in Parliament are won or lost by just a handful of votes. Your voice matters. All our voices matter.
As members of sovereign nations, some First Nations women have no interest in voting to elect members of the colonizer government. That is a position we respect. Each of us must follow our own path. But there is another position we have taken at NWAC in regard to our democratic right to vote.
We believe the only way we can make a difference in the lives of our families, and the people in our communities, is by doing what we can to guide the colonial powers of Canada in the direction we want them to go. We cannot leave these serious human rights issues to our descendants. The time to deal with them is now.
Yes, we hope one day that the current political system will be dismantled and replaced by one that is founded on equality, trust and mutual respect. But, until that happens, this is the only federal government we have, and we believe we must choose to do what we can to work within it.
For that reason, sisters, I am asking you to vote for the candidate who you believe will work hardest on your behalf, and on behalf of the other Indigenous women of Canada. I am asking you to put on your ribbon skirt, or your beaded shirt, or your caribou-skin and go to the polling station. I wore my ribbon skirt with pride when I cast my ballot.
I am asking you to join me in telling the government of Canada that we are no longer merely asking for their consideration, we’re voting. I am asking you to join me in telling them that our silence has ended.
For information, or to arrange an interview, contact Gloria Galloway at firstname.lastname@example.org or 613-447-6648.