Tantoo Cardinal on why First Nations need to vote and not for Stephen Harper

(Editor’s note: Tantoo Cardinal is an actress and signatory to the Leap Manifesto, a policy paper initiated by author and climate change activist Naomi Klein. Its premise is that Canada’s approach to the environment is going in the wrong direction and a “leap” is needed to get back on track. Cardinal was invited by APTN to write an editorial on why First Nation, Metis and Inuit should vote on Oct. 19.)

Tantoo Cardinal
Special to APTN National News
It is a bold statement that is not found in the platforms of present politician’s statements.

It is brave, daring and demanding.   

The Leap Manifesto.

Leap is asking us to remember what we really want to see in our society.

The Manifesto is a paper of gathered thoughts and actions to defend our Earth and each other.

Leap is a vision of a new society we must build.

Plummeting oil prices has caught some attention so that we can insert dialogue about this being the exact wrong way to go.

People will fight that idea. 

Fear will cause some folks to hurl insults at one another to pretend we are air-headed romantics who don’t have any understanding of the complexities of economics and governments. 

In some cases they are right but we have wisdom-ringing alarm bells throughout our lives and society.

Fear will cling to the hell that is known rather than opening up to the courage required to make this shift. 

We must make this shift, not only for our children and grandchildren, but for our relations and their grandchild and great grandchildren. 

We share this planet but it has been taken over by some self-appointed lords who are destroying our life force. 

Water is the blood of Mother Earth. We come from water. Those who communicate while crossing over, tell of having to go back through water. 

There is a scream that oil and gas is essential to our economy.

Somebody has to make the sacrifice of moving to a new way of being.

To the old way of being.

Living off of what we are given as opposed to digging around and taking more than is gifted.  

We Indigenous people have been here before. 

We had an economy that worked for us. 

Land was respected, harvested and taken care of. 

We had buffalo, salmon and all that were the core of our survival. 

While we were dodging genocide as best we could, buffalo were slaughtered. We were outlawed off the land then placed in residential schools.

I keep seeing a photograph of three women in a tattered sorrowful mess, sitting on the prairie. It is very clear what happens when an economic base is taken away.

A New Start 

The Leap Manifesto is suggesting that energy and cash be put into Green renewable energies. 

We are suggesting that new extraction projects must not be initiated.

Leap is suggesting “energy democracy” by bringing power generation under democratic community control with First Nations, first in line.

This thinking is a new paradigm. It is on the opposite side of the circle from where we are presently. 

Now, it’s government and corporations that are calling the shots all over the world.   

Huge trade agreements that circumvent our treaties.

Leap is calling for a structural change/shift.

The time for energy democracy has come. We believe not just in changes to our energy sources, but that wherever possible Communities Should Collectively Control These New Energy Systems.

The money is there, it just has to be reallocated.

We have generations of brainwashing to rinse out for good. We are once again in that position of administering the medicine to save their lives.   

Remember scurvy? 

Seems they have forgotten. 

The sour lemon this time is that keepers of the earth, keepers of the water have a manifesto that must be the base for creating the new economy.

We cannot pay heed to those with no sense of reality. Those who insist on continuing destructive practices that propel us to the point of no return. 

We are the neediest species on the planet.   

We are born naked and it takes us up to a year to learn to walk, and yet under our gift of free will we have managed to wipe out so many species of our relatives.

This is a time for humility, for gathering our forces and cooperating.

Along with everything else you’re doing … Vote. 

Shoot an arrow off in the direction that is not supporting the one who took all the protections off of water to favour his friends in the mining industries.

The one who refuses to see the urgency in doing something about violence against women and girls… and our men.

The one who would prefer us clammed up in the dark.

Those days are gone. Now we are challenged to use every peaceful method we can muster.  We must build an infrastructure that protects us in these highly challenging and changing times. 

And that means something more localized, something more family friendly, more community friendly. 

Which of these wanting to be elected politicos can hear this drum? 

The drum of the people.