I also had the opportunity to meet a few of the councillors, including Lena Knockwood, who arranged the meeting for me.
I reiterated our party's commitment to reconciliation, including implementing all of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Inquiry on Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls, and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Indigenous People.
Cheryl and others were very helpful in identifying some of the issues facing the Sipekne'katik first nation (which I repeated at an all-candidates forum the other night): (i) honouring treaty rights (ii) poverty (iii) housing shortages and (iv) lack of jobs and other opportunities for young people.
I also had the opportunity to watch a documentary directed by April Maloney entitled Treaty Tribulations: The Indian Brook Fishing Dispute, which provides details on the 1752 treaty between the British and the Mi'kmaq people of Sipekne'katik; in particular, their right to make a living off fishing. As documented in the video, despite the treaty and Supreme Court rulings in their favour, Mi'kmaq commercial fishers still feel they are not able to exercise their full treaty rights.
In all, it was a very eye-opening and educational experience. It was especially troubling to see the high level of poverty that many children are raised in as well as the lack of local jobs and career opportunities for young people.
Given this, one of my priorities (whether I am elected or not) is to bring the tutoring/mentoring programs I run in the city to Indian Brook (and other First Nations in the Kings-Hants riding) to help young people graduate from high school and get into university.
Thanks again to Cheryl, April, and Lena. I appreciate that First Nations and Indigenous people are skeptical of federal politicians and political parties. With that said, a number of people expressed their fondness and respect for the NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, at the very least because he could relate to the racism and discrimination that Indigenous people have experienced.
After my time in Indian Brook, we received close to 20 orders for lawn signs there!