Monday, March 28, 2011

Sagkeeng campaign trail update

Been visiting folks on the Reserve for the upcoming election of Chief and Council in Sagkeeng Anishinabe Nation, Manitoba Canada. There are five positions up for a two year term this April 4.
The visiting process on Reserve is different from contemporary political campaigning. In the Reserve there is the expectation for visiting and not just dropping off of political platforms. It does require more time to sit and visit with community residents (minimum one hour). The visiting makes it difficult to attend great numbers of homes. However, there is the influence of parental guidance and direction as to who should receive a family vote. That is why strategic visiting could help that savvy campaign candidate. Too bad I am not that savvy.  I try to go visit anywhere. It has been hit and miss. Spending a good time visiting with no confirmation of support at the polls. Still it is a good experience.
I did go through a real down mood yesterday and for most of today. It was a real task resisting the cloud of sadness. It is tiring to hear so much anger, frustration, sadness and apathy from people. Many of the poster signs I have been putting up have been ripped down. My pamphlets that are in local businesses are being written on, with things like "will rip off the people again".  Wondering which people they are referring to and who doesn't want to sign the allegations?  In addition I had the unpleasant experience of being rejected for the old "hand shake" at a local gathering. Ruben, who is also running for Chief (and alternatively Council member if Chieftainship alludes him) was at the local bingo hall to greet people after the games. People rushed by me as I said "hi, hello, nice to see you, etc." Many people I know don't bother to look at me. One older lady asked me, "awenen kiin?"(who are you)  I say "Steve". She makes a face, pulls her hand away and says "arrrgh". I was left empty handed with my jaw wide open. Trying not to cry over the snub.  It made me think of my Mom. She was honest as well. I had to not laugh at myself. This old lady was honest in her opinion of me. That is what you expect from the Old People. "Stand by your Man". No anonymous stuff for them.  Although I was on the receiving end of the snub I know exactly how that is right. I may not feel good about not being liked. As we all want to be liked, but that is impossible. It does not matter that we may not have done anything personally to this person, it is the perception they have of you.
That is the same thing in any political arena. We are free to agree, disagree, like or dislike someone for whatever reasons we think about or feel.
The sadness came upon like a blanket. How in the heck do people handle all the negativity day in and out? The amount of poverty, the amount of poor housing, the amount of desperation from people. It is bound to wear down the current Council. I guess that is the thing, I hope to work at. Getting people to see what it is that the community deals with, both in and out of the Reserve.

So I am up again for the visiting. I can't do it until Thursday because I have the Grandkids.  I am in luck that there are two public forums for candidates on Wednesday; one in the Reserve during the day and one in the city of Winnipeg during the evening. One of the things about visiting is that you get to joke around a lot. People like to tease; they tease about themselves, about you and about the Reserve. They are real serious about politics as well. They all have one thing in common, they worry about the long term affects on the Reserve, whether its land, education, language and jobs. People have told me look at the Elders and how they are treated, you will be there soon. How do you want to be treated?

Lot of Ideas coming out from people: a Van service for the Elders to take them to Southbeach Casino, Selkirk shopping and other trips. Just to get them out of the house and for some leisure time. More clearing of driveways for the Elders, a safety issue. More listening to the people. More sharing of information. More children Elder outings and camps. Elder involvement with the on goings regarding Land. Some type of work or training options for the youth that are not in school. Equity with regard to housing allocations.

Here are some pictures taken around the Reserve this week.

Cuz Joe, Uncle Harold, Norman

Councilor Derrick

Grand Opening Health Centre

Uncle Robert

Chief Donavan, Ken

Eric, Traditional Man

Kim, baby

Assembly Mb Chief Ron Evans

Grand Opening


Crowd at Health Centre

Kim, Shirley

Cuz Suzie

Elder Fabian




Jennifer Smith



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