Aboriginal people in B.C. should form political party, school trustee says

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      An elected school trustee who lives in Kamloops is calling for aboriginal people in British Columbia to establish a new political party.

      With the B.C. Liberal and New Democratic parties both staging their own leadership races, Troy Hunter told the Straight that it’s a “really good time” for indigenous people to build a provincial party that could field a slate of aboriginal candidates in the next election.

      “I suppose I don’t necessarily agree with a lot of decisions that are being made,” Hunter said by phone from his home. “It seems that the indigenous peoples are lacking a voice in the legislature, where important decisions are made.”

      Hunter is a first-term trustee with the Nicola-Similkameen school district, which oversees schools in Merritt and Princeton, and a member of the Ktunaxa Nation.

      This week, Hunter circulated an open letter, putting forth the idea of founding a political party based on the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

      His open letter suggests that the First Nations Leadership Council “take the lead on this idea”.

      It notes that the First Peoples National Party of Canada exists at the federal level, and the All Nations Party of B.C. was active in the 2001 provincial election.

      “I hope someone is listening with the intent of breathing life into this idea of an Indigenous rooted political party,” Hunter wrote. “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.”

      Hunter told the Straight that the UN declaration—which the Canadian government endorsed in November after voting against its adoption in 2007—recognizes that indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination, to establish their own political institutions, and to decide whether or not to participate in government.

      But he said he would like to see British Columbians from all backgrounds get involved with a new indigenous political party, which he proposes be called the First Peoples Political Party.

      “It’s not so much race-based,” Hunter said. “It’s more coming from the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the charter document. It’s sets the tone right there. I don’t know how to go about starting a political party. But I think that would be a very good starting point to begin with.”

      Hunter stressed that he isn’t talking about a party with a “single-issue platform”.

      He’s concerned with the state of education, the environment, human rights, economy, and employment across the province.

      “Aboriginal students in the province, maybe 50 percent are completing high school,” Hunter said. “When you look at the statistics, the aboriginal people are on the failing end of education. Education’s extremely important in everything that we do.”

      Hunter observed that the B.C. treaty process has gone “stale” due to government negotiating mandates.

      He also said he’s “disheartened” that First Nations and government are “at odds” despite the promise of the 2005 New Relationship accord between B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell and top First Nations leaders.

      “We need to have consensus,” Hunter said. “I think that, in order for that to happen, we have to be participants.”

      You can follow Stephen Hui on Twitter at twitter.com/stephenhui.




      Jan 12, 2011 at 11:00am

      Unfortunately it would probably just split the progressive vote even more - at least under the current voting system...
      Surely there's a better potential in supporting the Native candidate running for NDP leadership - Nicholas Simons...


      Jan 12, 2011 at 11:05am

      So, how exactly would this work? You can only join this party or be one of it's candidates if you are Aboriginal? I'm sorry, but, a political party based on racial profiling is not a good idea. How would people react if someone started the Irish Party, where they only allowed white people who were Irish to participate? There would be an outcry of discrimination. This is no different.

      Chief Long Tongue

      Jan 12, 2011 at 11:51am

      I think we should become a nations throughout Vancouver Island as one band.Tell the Government we are going join the United States to make sure they sign those damn treaties.I believe we are within that state anyways after 2012 so on..why.........?
      This government or any,have the excuses to manipulate the parliament by changing of the caucuses.That's the governments main tactics by removing and changing.All we say to the government is Barrack Obama here we come.

      Troy Hunter

      Jan 12, 2011 at 12:22pm

      Certainly a political party would have to fit with the ambit of the Canadian Charter of Human Rights, s.15 equality. Although Article 5 of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples does mandate the right to participate in state politics as Indigenous peoples; it was said that the Declaration (not that I'm in agreement) would have to be inline with the Canadian Constitution. I'm not so much interested in establishing a political party based solely on race. This is about a social construct, it is about participatory consensus based thinking. It is about achieving equality for all peoples in British Columbia.

      Too often Aboriginal people have counted on a certain political party to have their representation made, only to find inadequate representation. Who really cares if the NDP or the Liberals take the next election, why not build a new party based on a completely different way of thinking, one that is neither right or left, one that is forefront and centre.


      Jan 12, 2011 at 12:58pm

      Great idea! We self-absorbed lower mainland types living on a tiny little dot on the southwestern point of BC don't realize it, but there are huge swathes of this giant province where Aboriginal people are a majority of the population. This could be translated to an electoral majority in a few places. We want to keep Aboriginal people and culture in their place by keeping them in museums and talking about the heritage, but Aboriginal people are THE vital population in many areas in BC. Traditionally, Europeans would go to out back communities, make some money and their kids would leave for Vancouver, Kelowna, Victoria areas for university and to settle afterwards. The Aboriginal culture is the true culture TODAY (not the past) in many places in BC. They should translate that into political power.


      Jan 12, 2011 at 1:22pm

      Capitol idea. Then maybe public works could clean up that yard there in the photo.


      Jan 12, 2011 at 1:24pm

      Because this idea doesn't invite racism. /sarcasm.

      Neil Edmondson

      Jan 12, 2011 at 1:40pm

      Troy, Sec. 15 (2) of Charter explicitly would allow an indigenous only party - we Euro males get discriminated all the time under this clause - however since the Charter only applies to that which is proscribed by law this would be a matter of human rights acts. BC's HRA section 43 of course allows for indigenous-only discrimination and anti-Euro and anti-male discrimination - again, as a Euro male I am acutely aware of this - and the federal HRA also makes provisions for guys like you to discriminate against guys like me, so you're in the clear having the racially pure party that you seek. Social construct my clavicle, btw, this is 100% about race.

      I just explained in great detail how my own governments discriminate against me every day, and allow you and guys like you to discriminate against me and guys like me every day - and you still have the nerve to suggest your people are hard done by by federal and provincial governments!

      Tell you what: when you speak out against anti-Euro discrimination I will once again speak up for your people, as I have done before and my people have done for generations. Until then, no soup.

      glen p robbins

      Jan 12, 2011 at 2:42pm

      I think this is a tremendous idea, so long as the party follows the laws, inlcuding the Charter. If I wanted to join the BC Aboriginal Party - as a dirty white boy - then I should be permitted to, naturally.

      Why wouldn't I want to join if I supported the Constitution of the party.
      Troy, you or any of your associates can write me any time @robbins.canada@email.com if you want some ------------- outside suggestions.
      With a middle name ---- Patrick I might just consider that Irish Party--I expect me and mine would rightly challenge the BC Aboriginal Party--for voters.

      oh a twiddle dee and a twiddle dum -

      goofy idea

      Jan 12, 2011 at 3:48pm

      go right ahead..form whatever party you want..but with each of these native only ideas you become further and further away from mainstream society.
      native only anything just furthers the alienation...how about someone using that dirty 'a' word: assimilation

      new immigrants get by just fine without specialty parties or programs why cant home grown FN's...??