(Image: decolonizing media)
The debate of whether First Nations should vote in federal elections rages on. There are so many people out there just waiting to tell you what to do and what to think. Heck, even in this write up I'll be doing that, lol.
I noticed that people want to control what colonization means, what voting means, what sovereignty means. It's exhausting.
When I see my people outraged at the thought of First Nations voting, it makes me a little bit confused. All governments are nihilists, I agree, and all of them are not for the people (especially not First Nation inherent rights & freedoms).
Some First Nations say not to vote because it makes us work with them in terminating our rights. This is where it becomes confusing to me. These same people vote in chief & council elections. The same chief & councils who have to answer to & work for the same government they claim to hate.
We have treaty cards, health cards, social security cards, fill out income tax papers, and actively participate in the western world. We buy products that are owned by companies actively trying to kill us and manipulate us.
Everyday I think of how privileged we all are for how we live because on the other side of the ocean there are people who pay for it with their lives. We are already active participants in our own demise.
We are still willfully plugged into the system we claim to fight. We get mixed up in believing that freedom comes from outside sources, but it doesn't.
Treaty is not freedom. Activism is not freedom. Unless your willing to walk away from everything that makes your life comfortable and become self-sustaining off the land, then yeah, say your free.
I look to people like the Unist'ot'en camp & the family in Freedom Babies for a picture of absolute autonomy. Hell, even Hutterites are more free then I am. I'm not there yet.
I'm not going to pretend that by not voting that that somehow makes me a better First Nations or a better "activist" or a better whatever. I'm going to do what I'm going to do. Do what you want to do too but don't pretend your doing something because your "free" or "sovereign." We, First Nations, dismantle our own inherent rights. The governments will always be our enemy.
I thought the treaties were a working relationship amongst two parties to coexist on these lands? Or do we both always need an enemy to hate and fight against?
It leads me back to how some activists are saying not to vote in the federal election. It has left me very disillusioned and feeling dis-empowered. They want us to wake up but then close our eyes again. They want us to fight outside governments on top of our own governments. They want us to be traditionalists but they live the western way.
But it's us, it's always been us, who have helped in dismantling our own rights & freedom...it's you and it's me...We tell the settlers to wake up - then turn around and pretend we're not active participants in the very system that has enslaved us both: #wedismantleourrights when we collect child tax #wedismantleourrights when we do our income tax #wedismantleourrights when we request a treaty card #wedismantleourrights when we buy food at the grocery store #wedismantleourrights when we request a birth certificate #wedismantleourrights when we request a social insurance card #wedismantleourrights when we request a health card #wedismantleourrights when we live in the city #wedismantleourrights when we support AFN #wedismantleourrights when we vote for chief & council I was 19 when I voted in a federal election. Twenty years ago was the first and last time I voted. It was not because I cared about politics at the time but rather out of novelty.
This time it is because I do not want the conservatives in power any more. I do not think the system is ever going to save us, but I do not want to be cynical either. And no, not voting, does not make you more cynical.
I am voting for the party I feel will do the least amount of damage to us as a people. It doesn't have to make sense to you. Maybe in the future I will choose not to vote again and that is okay. So do what you want - vote - don't vote - that is under your control and under your power! I would not presume that all our ancestors were the same. I know they were adaptable because we survived. I know they would not try to force or control me into something I did not want to do.
The leaders would want what is best for the people and that might not have always been perfect. They could not make decisions based on ignoring the fact that settlers were here and things had changed.
When we were allowed to legally vote in canadian politics there were First Nations who did vote. Afterwards there were First Nations who built systems of governance to work alongside the canadian system. Were they wrong in doing so? Did the leaders & people try to stop them by force? Did everyone discuss matters with great respect or did they bicker back and forth?
At the end of the day our people and our culture is still very much alive. I don't want to add more worry into my life by trying to control what my fellow brothers & sisters are going to do or not going to do. And I don't want to add to my people's hurt with my words and I apologize if I had done just that.
Now is the time to get in touch with our spirit, our soul, and our ancestors. The greatest of challenges should always be met with Creator and we must see that in one another again.