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I have been in meetings as a Grand Chief and as an MP in which statements were made that “Indigenous People don’t vote so why should we make their issues a priority? They have their leaders and their leaders can speak for them.”

For me, this was a cop out and I expressed as such to those in attendance. This attitude speaks to ignorance, apathy and negligence of their jobs as elected leaders.

We are Indigenous and Canadian citizens. Many of our Indigenous Warriors and Soldiers fought in the Great Wars to defend freedom and democracy. Our Indigenous soldiers and warriors joined the World War II effort in the highest numbers out of any cultural group in Canada.

These soldiers understood the meaning of the Treaties and Alliances their leaders made with an emerging Canadian Nation. They enlisted despite not being recognized as Canadian citizens, despite not having the right to vote, despite having to give up their Indian Status to honour the Agreements our people signed with the Crown. They willingly chose to fight as an ally of the Crown, to defend Canada and the Global Community because of the respect, honour and regard they held for the Treaties signed and not to mention that Indigenous Peoples believed in equity and equality for everyone.

These soldiers and warriors were equals on the frontlines, bleeding red like anyone else when injured or dying, fighting for democracy, human rights and respect for all. Yet they came home to inequality, treated as second-class citizens on their own lands in their own country.

This is both tragic, and extremely inspirational for all Canadians! This tells me that we must all be ready at all times to fight for freedom, democracy and goodwill between all neighbours. These, as witnessed in the not too distant past, are fragile concepts if left unattended.