By Trevor Greyeyes
I can certainly sympathize with Buffalo Point First Nation citizens but a stunt like having the Southern Chiefs Organization recognize someone else as chief isn't going to end their current impasse with hereditary chief John Thunder.
The SCO doesn't have the authority to remove a sitting chief.
However, here's my free and unsolicited advice about what people can do if democracy is the road it is decided should be taken. And feel free to tell me where to shove it but here goes.
There should be only one simple message:
democratic elections in Buffalo Point First Nation.
Keep in mind the goal is to get the average Canadian on your side to force the government's hand. More specifically, the hand of whomever is the Aboriginal Affairs minister.
Attacking John Thunder because he is not a First Nations person has not worked.
Here why: the average Canadian, rightly or wrongly, believe that is a racist attack against not only a non-First Nation person but all non-First Nation peoples.
To compound that, Thunder only has to claim the economic development he has brought to the region and paint his opponents as ungrateful greedy Indians only interested in collecting a welfare cheque.
The average Canadian then couldn't be bothered to support Buffalo Point First Nation members with their issue.
I can hear someone gritting their teeth and swearing under their breath that it's all true. Well, the truth here does not set you free or advance your cause.
Stay on your message
Just keep up the message about having democratic elections in Buffalo Point First Nation and leave out personal barbs and asides.
1) The first message is rather innocuous and simple that should appeal to the average Canadian.
Buffalo Point First Nation members are appealing to the general public to support our efforts to realize democratic elections in our community that has long served as a cornerstone of Canadian society.
See, simple yet effective. How could any Canadian be against democracy?
2) Point out that the First Nations Transparency Act only works in a democracy.
3) If the sitting chief wants to throw around that it's only "Indians on welfare" who are worried about their next welfare cheque then turn it around.
Tell the chief it's about the fundamental right of every Canadian to participate in democratic elections.
That if the chief think he's done such a good job then he should have no problem putting his economic record on the line in a democratic election like any other government in this country.
4) Confront the Aboriginal Affairs minister. Ask Valcourt if he believes in democracy. He should blithely answer that he supports democracy. Then that opens him up for criticism about why he supports a dictatorship.
5) Hire a PR person or academic to write a letter to be sent to EVERY media outlet in this country.
The piece should point out
Point out where the government fails to live up to the standards of open democracy set by so many Canadian governments and individuals before.
6) Stay away from any extraneous arguments or attacks that detract from challenging to federal government to allow fundamental democratic rights flourish in Buffalo Point First Nation.
Now, I have nothing against John Thunder. He's always treated me with respect and willing to talk in the past.
However, if you don't know this already, I am not about tradition and I am for open and transparent democracy for every First Nation.
And it's only inevitable.
Sooner or later there will be democracy in Buffalo Point First Nation.
And that's my two-cents.