Open Letter to All British Columbians:
I Troy Donovan Hunter, J.D., member of the Ktunaxa First Nation, believe British Columbia should have an Indigenous political party with MLA's and MP's democratically voted into office and that the founding charter of such political party be based on the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, especially including, Article 5, whereas, "Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions, while retaining their right to participate fully, if they so choose, in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the State".
On 10 January on Twitter, I posted such a notion about an Indigenous political party in Australia and that perhaps one should be considered here in BC. I tweeted, "Maybe BC ought to have indigenous Provincial Party like the First Australian indigenous party | Herald Sun http://bit.ly/fyjbdG".
With one single tweet, I was labeled a racist with the following response, "@NeilJEdmondson: @TroyDHunter Did you just suggest a race-based political party? In Canada? In the year 2010? Wow. #bcpoli #badideajeans #racist".
As we all know, on 12 November 2010, Canada endorsed the United Nations Declarations on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. For me to be labeled a racist by Mr. Neil J. Edmondson (a self-proclaimed propagandist), for me speaking up in support of the aims of the UN Declaration, is both troubling and absurd.
On another more supportive note, I also received this correspondence from Bernard von Schulmann where he stated, "BC had an aboriginal party in the 2001 election, the All Nations Party. Also, several ridings in BC are more than 1/3 Aboriginal. He added, "Some years back I wrote an analysis of the 1996 election to show the First Nations leadership the impact of First Nation votes in the 1996 provincial election. … The result was that the NDP won three of the seats by less than the on-Reserve Aboriginal vote for the NDP. The NDP also lost three seats because of the UBCIC boycott of the vote. Six seats in 1996 were determined by the actions of First Nations in BC. Without the First Nation vote in 1996, the BC Liberals would have won".
Moreover, von Schulmann added, "... In a four way race, a well supported Aboriginal candidate could win with 30% of the vote. Four of the ridings are in one region and this would make a cohesive regional campaign possible. The All Nations party ran in 6 candidates in 2001. Don Moses did the best in Yale-Lillooet with 6.9% of the vote. It was backed by one of the leaders of the Haisla".
I find it interesting to note that ten years ago, there was an Indigenous political party in BC. Also it is important to mention that there is a registered Federal Indigenous political party known as the First Peoples National Party of Canada. Moreover, Indigenous peoples believe themselves to be the stewards of the environment, which is quite evident in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. A First Peoples Political Party founded on human rights and environmental conservation would be a strong platform. Of course, such a party would not just be concerned with those aspects, there are many other aspects of importance such as education, employment and the economy (E3).
Aboriginal education has serious problems and we must do all we can to improve the educational attainment levels of Aboriginal children so that it is at least equal to the mainstream. However, caring for the environment is the number one priority for all of us. We must be careful about entering into international carbon reduction schemes that serve to promote the continued pollution and contamination of the environment. Reducing Emissions through Deforestation and Degradation is not the solution to the problem, reducing our true carbon footprint is.
It's in your hands now. I suggest, perhaps, the BC First Nations Leadership Council to take the lead on this idea as they are best suited to organize such a political party. Having a voice in the BC legislature, even if it is a minority voice, is better than none. Also, it's not too late as I understand that a new political party is in the formation stages with their inaugural AGM set for April.
I hope someone is listening with the intent of breathing life into this idea of an Indigenous rooted political party. I am not a racist, the stark reality is that Indigenous peoples' are true bona fide stakeholders with unceded Aboriginal Title and BC has a long way to go with respect to finalizing treaty negotiations. It seems to make perfect sense to support an Indigenous rooted political party, here in Canada in 2011, it is the new standard in International politics and it has the backing of the United Nations including the Canadian Federal Government.
Troy Hunter is an elected School Trustee for the Nicola-Similakameen, School District #58.
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