(Photo courtesy Ben Powless)
APTN National News
TORONTO–An emotional Bill Erasmus, a candidate for Assembly of First Nations national chief, says he’s seen much anger in his campaign trail travels and warned “it will not work.”
Erasmus, who paused for several seconds in the midst of his speech to gather his composure and wipe his eyes, said Indigenous people had to control and contain their anger.
“It is really hard to smile, it’s not because I don’t want to,” said Erasmus. “Travelling across the country, you know what I have seen more than anything? Anger. We have angry people. I was a teenager once and I had that anger…when I found out what others did to us. I got angry, I wanted to hurt others. I wanted to lash out, but I quickly realized that this is not the way, it’s not going to work, because I think that’s what they want, and we all know who they are.”
Erasmus, a Dene Nation National Chief in the Northwest Territories, is one of eight candidates vying for the position of national chief of the AFN. He was speaking during the candidates’ forum during the AFN gathering in Toronto where chiefs will vote for national chief on Wednesday.
Erasmus then read from handwritten notes which he had written on Saturday, telling chiefs to choose the candidate that would “take care” of them.
“I think about what we own, what was bestowed upon us, in the beginning of time…Somebody wants to take that away from you and they are using every means available,” said Erasmus. “Think about it, what was given to you by the creator, think about how to keep it as intended, no one can take that away from you, no one. They will use big words, they will treat you nice, they will wine and dine you; we have seen it for many years. Sometimes, we are not sure why they act like that. We ask, how did they become that way?”
Erasmus called on First Nations to “get organized as never before” and to mend divisions between Indigenous people.
“Let’s work together, let’s clear our heads and govern ourselves, on one else can govern us or ever will,” said Erasmus.