Be heard

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This is our last opportunity to encourage you to participate in the Cree Nation Government elections in Eeyou Istchee before the first round of voting on July 12 (advance polls are on July 5). Not all people need that encouragement as in the communities and on social media, we’ve heard and read a variety of reasons why people will be casting their vote the way they will.

It’s lucky that the Cree have no party affiliations (Liberal, Conservative, etc.). We vote strictly for the candidate we want to represent us. Reasons underlying our choices range from leadership style, particular platforms or stances on important issues. In some cases, instead of voting for someone, we make a choice based on a candidate we don’t want to win.

But then you hear from people who won’t be voting. My vote doesn’t mean anything as nothing ever changes, they say. The new boss is the same as the old boss, so why bother? Often, non-voters may simply dislike politics.

Every vote counts, however. Just look at Quebec’s last referendum on separation, which was decided by a handful of votes out of the millions that were cast. In federal elections, increased Cree participation means we now have a Cree representing us in Parliament.

There are many people in the world who don’t have the same rights and freedoms as we do. Voting shouldn’t be considered an inconvenience but a responsibility. That’s why your employer is obliged give you time off in order to vote. Those short lines to the ballot box may give you some time to have a coffee, grab a snack, even see a lover.

Of course, neither voters nor leaders will get everything they want out of this election. Compromises between opposing interests will have to be made. But for everyone there will have been important issues raised and brought into the open.

I hope people take the time to vote for many reasons but, mostly, because they can.

Lastly, the Nation congratulates candidates who put their names forward to run in this election. Win or lose, it takes a lot of strength of character, commitment, and a desire to help others to put your name on a ballot.

So we thank all of our candidates and appreciate their sacrifice. The least we can do in return is to vote in this election for Grand Chief and Deputy Grand Chief.

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