Posted June 1, 2020
During the course of the development of Atikameksheng Anishinaabek election code, AAFN officials have had to overcome a number of challenges and barriers. Most of those challenges were directly related to the imposition of the Crown over our Atikameksheng affairs.
With the ratification of the community election code, Gimaakeng Naaknigewin, in January 2020, the community has spoken! Our First Nation has been directed to implement the code voted upon by our members. With the successful ratification, Atikameksheng has taken historic and substantial step towards self-determination. We are now going to select our own leaders – our way!
Yet, we still needed one more approval. The signature of the Ministers of Crown-Indigenous Relations. Yet again, even following the election code ratification, we encounter the imposition of the Crown.
Since that time, knowing full well that an election was on the horizon, the Minister sat on our approval.
Then after a few weeks, with a lot of follow-up and encouragement from our Chief and Council, still nothing.
Then COVID-19 hit.
We certainly recognize that there are far more important priorities for Canada during a pandemic crisis. The federal government was dealing with life and death. Public health measures to curb the spread of coronavirus was the only business of the federal government during March and April. Then they had to address the economic reality, now a recession. People were losing their jobs and businesses were having to close.
All the while, Atikameksheng waited and waited for the “approval” of our Election Code.
That is the reality of colonialism. By being subservient to the Crown, we are always waiting for their validation and approval. That is the very nature of the Indian Act. Band Councils serve under the jurisdiction of the Indian Act and the Minister. That is not right.
Atikameksheng has passed our supreme law: our Gi’Chi-Naaknigewin.
Atikameksheng has passed our way of selecting our leaders: Gimaakeng Naaknigewin.
Atikameksheng citizens have spoken and we are taking a rightful step towards self-determination and establishing our own processes under our own jurisdiction.
Today, our Chief and Council and First Nations staff and officials endeavour to serve under our own Atikameksheng jurisdiction. We must take steps to change our way of thinking and way of life.
The Minister did finally give his approval and signed off on the Gimaakeng Naaknigewin. It is now in-force, just in time for the upcoming election.
Think about it this way… perhaps this is one of the final approvals we will ever need from the Minister. Our ancestors never needed to ask permission to govern themselves and manage their own affairs. Why should we?
If we are committed to self-determination, to the selection of our own leaders in our way, and empowering processes under our own jurisdiction – we choose to move forward.
We choose to move forward, in our way.
That’s what this election is all about.