MEDIA ADVISORY: Chiefs Encouraged to Vote in this Week’s BCAFN Regional Chief Election
SEPTEMBER 28th 2009
For immediate release
Chilliwack BC: On Thursday October 1st 2009, at the Chief Joe Mathias Centre, North Vancouver, the Chiefs of British Columbia will elect a new BC Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN) Regional Chief, a position now vacant with the election of Shawn A-in-chut Atleo as National Chief this past July. Jody Wilson Raybould, 38, Councillor for the We Wai Kai Nation, lawyer and four times elected BC Treaty Commissioner, is one of five people running for the office and is encouraging all Chiefs to participate in this important election. “This Election is about each of our Nations being able to implement their respective title and rights and ensuring that the BCAFN remains relevant” said Wilson Raybould.In a campaign that has stressed a renewed sense of hope for the future, Wilson Raybould sends a message of optimism of ‘building on OUR success.’ “Our people are resilient and have overcome much adversity and are making great strides,” said Wilson Raybould. “As I have traveled the width and breadth of this Province, over and over again I have heard the stories and voices of our peoples’ accomplishments. It is time to celebrate this success, share our experiences and ensure that no one community is left out or behind” she enthusiastically added.
British Columbia is subject to aboriginal title and rights including treaty rights. Wilson Raybould acknowledges it has been a long and hard struggle for First Nations to begin to have their rights recognized and affirmed – through the Courts, at the negotiating table and on the ground. And the struggle is by no means over.
However, Wilson Raybould stresses that a change is occurring within First Nation communities and in the Province. In reflecting on the past leadership she states, “As a result of the struggle and the determination of the leaders that have come before us, there are now very real opportunities for First Nations to re-establish our institutions of governance, gain back access to our lands and resources, and put the colonial history behind us with the promise of a better future.”
Wilson Raybould continued, “In moving forward in this Province we must build on the progress we have already made and ensure all First Nations can benefit from it.” Wilson Raybould has a platform that focuses on four key areas.
Firstly, communities must have strong structures and institutions of governance with appropriate jurisdiction to harness opportunities. Not the Indian Act, and not simply limited to jurisdiction over existing and usually very small Indian reserves. Appropriate governance is a perquisite and the foundation for sustainable economic development and prosperity in any society. Governance must be reflective of the culture of the people.
Secondly, First Nations need fair access to land and resources to fuel their economies and support traditional practices. This is the ‘equity’.
Thirdly, First Nations need a well educated and skilled citizenry to run their governments and, more importantly, participate in their local economies and the economy of BC.
Finally, and most importantly, there is a need for healthy individuals to be able to participate in and take full advantage of the opportunities.
Recognizing the challenges that must be overcome, Wilson Raybould commented, “There is still a considerable amount of healing that needs to occur with our peoples, for example as a result of the residential schools and other multi-generational impacts of the colonial legacy.’
The BCAFN has an important role to play in empowering, supporting and connecting our Nations as each rebuilds. Wilson Raybould says that if elected as BCAFN Regional Chief she will work with all our leaders of BC on the four key areas of her platform following a plan that would see all Nations developing their own critical path to implement their aboriginal title and rights.
Raised in a traditional family, Wilson Raybould added, “In the end, as leaders we will be judged on whether or not the standard of living for our people has improved and whether our cultures are practiced and thriving. It has never been just about a legal and political fight for abstract recognition of our title and rights, but rather a fight to create tangible and lasting benefits on the ground in our communities to end years of poverty and subjugation by outdated and paternalist laws. It is about restoring the hope within our communities and moving forward as strong and proud peoples.”
“While we still have a long way to go to end poverty in our communities, evidenced most recently by how the H1N1 pandemic is affecting our communities, I truly believe we are in exciting times. A time of unprecedented opportunity for First Nations that requires us to plan, build and ‘build on OUR success.’”
FOR MORE INFO MORE INFORMATION
Campaign coordinator for Jody Wilson Raybould
Campaign email: jodywilsonraybould[at]shaw.ca
Phone: (604) 847-3725
Fax: (604) 847-0072