When I decided to leave Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC) to run federally, I heard many questions: “Why are you not running again for Grand Chief again? Why do you want to be an MP? Is that a step down?”
I viewed my position as Grand Chief as an honour and held it in very high regard. Anytime one has an opportunity to serve their people, they should seriously consider it – just do it for the right reasons!
It was an honour to represent our people and to have them put their trust in me. I am extremely proud of the people I worked with at PAGC, with the other Chiefs and Métis leaders across Saskatchewan and numerous others. We did great work together. I did not see my move to an aspiring MP as a step up or down; I saw it as another way in which to serve.
I had informally announced that I would not be seeking re-election as Grand Chief of the PAGC shortly before my term expired. A few weeks later, I formally announced my intention to run in the next federal election. I was a little scared and second-guessing myself a bit.
Many people and some Chiefs expressed concern that I was stepping down to a lesser position. They stated their concern for my family and me, and wanted to make sure I was doing the right thing. I was honoured that people were worried about us – it is reflective of the generous spirit and caring nature of our people.
Thinking back, this was a hint as to how Aboriginal people view the position of an MP or MLA compared to that of Chief.
The question becomes “why do many Aboriginal people view federal politics as a step down from First Nations politics?” I will speak on this in a later post.