By Lorraine Rousseau
Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote for our North. Vote for our future and the future of generations to come.
Let’s make our voice heard. This election is unlike any other. While we’re doing much better, thanks to all frontline workers, our communities face the risk of the pandemic’s fourth wave. It’s crucial to stay informed and know how to cast your vote safely. From mail ballots to early voting, there are many options. If you have not already done so, I invite you to register now: www.elections.ca. (Elections Canada website)
My friends, vote. Please vote. Never underestimate the power of your voice.
There are key issues that affect our northern communities. It’s crucial to stay informed.
In the coming days, there will be debates, townhalls and other in-person and/or virtual events. Conversations are vital for our democracy. Politicians’ promises must be followed by actions. Otherwise, empty promises could mean empty plates, empty bank accounts and bleak times for our future.
Let’s be clear, decolonization and Indigenous rights must be the foundation of our conversations during the election.
With all the challenges imposed on us during the pandemic, many of us want to know what candidates and their parties are planning for a just recovery. When we emerge safely from this pandemic, no one must be left behind.
Most issues are linked to one another. A just recovery won’t be viable with no climate action plan because as you know it’s not just climate change – it’s a climate crisis – we live and feel this everyday in the North. Although being impacted the most, the North accounts for a small fraction of greenhouse emissions compared to the rest of Canada. What measures will the next government take for climate action? Be informed and ask your candidates.
There is no just recovery, if northern and rural communities are left behind. Combating food insecurity must be a priority for all candidates and parties, especially in the North. Imagine having to choose between paying for prescription drugs or providing nutritious meals to your loved ones. Here is another priority: health care. Is Pharmacare on the agenda?
In the North, we share many of the key issues with the rest of the country. We also have our unique situation too. Connectivity is one of the prominent problems and is often dismissed during debates. United Nations has identified digital connectivity as a human right. The Federal government has stated that it is an essential service – just because we might be able to access does not mean we have the service. It enables access to information, education and opportunity. Many of our northern and other rural communities suffer from further isolation due to the digital connectivity divide between them and the rest of the country. This has worsened during the pandemic with the transition to remote learning and working.
Many of our union’s members, and the public, identified affordable childcare as their priority when voting during the federal election. There is no doubt that affordable childcare leads to productive communities in which no one is forced out of the workforce to take care of their children. While the burden of childcare is shared, in many cases, it is predominantly a traditional nurturing individual – female, mom, auntie and grandma. This will take us to the discussion of gender equity, which goes beyond childcare. Everyone is entitled to be safe from discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation. Again, what’s in the platform of the competing candidates that address gender equity?
Our northern communities are not immune from systemic racism and discrimination, publicly seen at times but lived daily. As we all know, racism finds its way to institutions that are meant to protect and serve. Racism is in our workplaces and schools. It’s not enough for individuals and communities to stand against racism. Government, leaders and citizens must take the lead. As parties come forward with their platforms, let’s not forget to ask the question: are you committed to eradicate racism?
I know that you also have identified key issues that matter to you, your communities, your family, your friends, your circle: use your voice. Your vote is your voice, power and authority.
Do not give up your voice.
This article originally appeared in the Yellowknifer on August 25, 2021