Tuesday, 25 February 2014
Planned Speech to Delegates at APC AGM (February 21, 2014)
Below is the speech I had planned to share to delegates of the LPC 2014 Convention in Montreal. Although my Co-Chair and I did not get to give our speeches (we opted to keep the focus on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls with guest speaker Bridget Tolley - I am very happy we did so), I stand by the words in it. I wish the new executive the best of luck - the next two years will be amazing.
Another blog entry will be coming shortly on how it is to be a mixed Individual partaking in the Canadian and Indigenous political processes.
Aanii, Chadwick Cowie Ndiishnikaaz
Edmonton Megwa Dodaa
Hello, as some of you know – my name is Chad Cowie, one of the Out-going Co-Chairs of the 2012/2014 Aboriginal Peoples’ Commission Executive. I am from the Anishinaabeg community of Mississaugas of Rice Lake (Also referred to as Hiawatha First Nation). Currently I reside in Edmonton, Alberta - where I am working towards my PhD - located on the traditional territory of the Nehiyaw – Treaty Six territory.
Before I continue, I want to take this time to acknowledge the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy – more specifically the traditional territory of the Mohawk that we are meeting on. I am happy to be here with each and every one of you and I want to say Chi-Miigwetch/Merci Beaucoup/Thank You to Elder Deslisle for his opening prayer and welcome. (You see, where I come from – Introductions are important… and take a while to finish…)
It has been two Years…. In fact, just over two years since my co-chair Cherish and I, alongside many of you here today witnessed the re-launch of the APC. Two Years ago we started a very steep up-hill climb – with much pushing back against us. Whether it was from the Harper Governments attacks on our home lands, our rights, the well being of our friends and family; Whether it was fighting off attacks from the NDP about how we were traitors to our own people by not being NDP; AND, even whether we had to push back in our own Liberal family for recognition, understanding, and consideration. We had much to work against – but we also had vision, passion, and determination – we are Indigenous after all – we are still here – determination and stubbornness runs in our veins.
Two years of, what Justin Trudeau himself coined, hope and hard work. The APC is here again with new life and excitement as it continues to regrow its presence and voice in our Liberal Family. Some have viewed us as idealist, some have believed commissions are a waste of party money – I am here to say we as a commission succeeded in proving many of our skeptics wrong.
In two years – the APC has gone from a defunct commission with no regional structures to a commission with regional structures in 9 of 13 regions. The APC today has 10 policies being put forth for us as delegates to consider; in 2012 the APC had 0. In January 2012 the APC had 300 members. Today I can happily report the APC has 980 Members, and over 2500 Supporters. In two years the APC has reinvigorated itself and made connections throughout ‘Turtle Island,’ Canada and the LPC. We went from a budget in 2012 of $5000.00 (that’s right – 5000.00) to, Im happy to report , a budget of $30,000.00 for the 2014 fiscal year. Yes, the APC has achieved a lot and these points I highlight are just a handful that we can trumpet about. And as an out going Co-Chair, I thank all who have assisted in making these two years successful.
Does this mean we can sit back and relax?
The answer is NO – there is so much to continue working towards; striving for; seeing enacted. We as Indigenous peoples can never relax and rest – we still have to fight for recognition and proper consideration. We need to fight for better education for our young peoples as well as non-Indigenous youth – we cant move forward if both sides do not properly understand each other – let alone the true history.
We need to fight for better understanding from our Canadian brothers and sisters on how our cultures work, how our peoples think and process, and why we as Indigenous peoples ‘cant just get over it.’ We need to assist in making Canadian politicians and leaders understand that for Indigenous peoples – YOU cannot move forward with a relationship that is broken unless you acknowledge and deal with the past mistakes made – such as the Liberal Party itself and the infamous 1969 White Paper.
In two years much change has happened for us in the Liberal Family – rejuvenation, new life, a new leader, and lots of hope and hard work. I look forward to seeing change continue – change for the better of Canada, when Stephen Harper will be defeated in 2015, and change for the betterment of Canadian/Indigenous relations. It is this betterment of the relations – bridging the two sides of a broken relationship, as Justin Trudeau coined it, that the APC has much to give – much to help with.
Whether Haida or Tlingit; Squamish or Nehiyaw; Dene or Anishinaabeg, Haudenoshaunee or Metis; Mi’kmaq or Inuit (to name only a few of the Indigenous Nations Canada shares Turtle Island with) – Outside of your community or in an Urban Centre; long haired or short haired, Indigenous or not – the APC’s job is to help bring understanding and assist in bridging between both sides of the treaty relationship – not just Band Council Chiefs and heads of Indigenous organizations – but the peoples. And I strongly encourage each and every person in this room to remember that and continue that push – there is not one solution, one group of Indigenous people, one treaty. There are many and it is time for such understanding to infiltrate and blend into not only the Canadian psyche but its politics and legislation as well.
To the in-coming APC executive - I wish you all the best in keeping the momentum going. A strong team with people who understand these differences will be key. Lastly – To all of Canada: It is time to Idle No More.