Monday, January 30, 2012

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Former Haisla Chief Councillor Dolores Pollard
My editorial, originally published in the Kitimat Northern Sentinel August 11, 2010.
Come election time, be it federal, provincial or municipal, the identified election issues will be health care, the economy and the environment.

Getting environmental issues on the political agenda has taken a long time, and a lot of dedicated, hard work.

The results are environmental review processes, mainstream political parties dedicated to environmental issues and most of us have access to recycling facilities through our waste collection services.

First Nations' issues will likely not crack the top ten unless there is an acute crisis near the election.

An ongoing First Nations' crisis will not make it, because we've heard them all before:

  • First Nations people's quality of life ranking well below the rest of Canadian society
  • First Nations' infant mortality rate 1.5 times higher than the rest of Canadian society
  • Significantly higher suicide, diabetes, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS than the rest of Canadian society
These issues are not new, they are not undocumented, and they are not unheard of, but they will be put aside so we can deal with health care, the economy and the environment and probably Afghanistan in upcoming elections of whatever level.

The environmental movement got the issues on the political agenda by convincing ordinary Canadians they were important to them, they directly affected them and they could change them.

One of the ways of doing that is by engaging media.

Engaging media is a two way process, not just press releases or letters to the editor.

Engaging media includes returning phone calls.

I've not had my calls taken by Haisla Council except to say "someone will get back to you."

Kitimatians, and other Canadians, will not come to appreciate First Nations' issues if they're not spoken about.

First Nations' issues will not become a political agenda item unless Kitimatians and other Canadians appreciate them.

Please Chief Councillor Pollard, return my calls.

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