Campaign season

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We’ve seen a lot of campaigning over the past year, a year that was kicked off by the elections of our new Grand Chief and Deputy Grand Chief, Abel Bosum and Mandy Gull, respectively. This, of course, was an exciting moment for all of the Cree Nation. Shortly after, we saw Wemindji elect Christina Gilpin as their Chief.

In the past couple weeks, we’ve seen Thomas Neeposh elected as Chief of Mistissini, along with Gerald Longchap returning for a second term as Deputy Chief. Then, we saw voters elect a new chairperson of the Cree School Board, Sarah Pash, who will take over the reigns from outgoing two-term chair Kathleen Wootton. In August, we will learn of Waswanipi’s elections for Chief as well. This, I would say is just a taster for what is coming in 2019.

In 2019, we will see Chisasibi, Waskaganish, Eastmain, Nemaska, Oujé-Bougoumou and Washaw Sibi hold their elections! This is like watching six UFC championship fights in one night! I think I will start a printing company before all these campaigns begin! Either that or offer my services as a campaign manager, but that’s a risky one. There’s always that one politician with those skeletons in their closet that could make your career as a campaign manager a short one. So, I think I’ll stick to printing their posters, pins, stickers and brochures.

It was very nice to see another woman take on a high-ranking role in our Nation. Two of our entities, the Cree School Board and Cree Health Board, both have women leading them. I wouldn’t want to be Abel right now if I had to meet with both Board Chairs at the same time. All kidding aside, the equality in seeing both males and females take on leadership roles is quite refreshing to see.

I remember the time when Violet Pachanos was the first-ever female Chief in our Cree communities AND followed that up 10 years later by becoming the first female Deputy Grand Chief. She is a true trailblazer for all of our future female Cree leaders.

I’m sure she met a lot of resistance from her male counterparts back then. Today though, I believe we’ve become a nation that has surpassed the ideology of “gender barriers” and realized that we are Cree first and foremost before even looking at the gender of the candidates. The gender card is old and should be tossed aside. Today, we can all vote with the knowledge and clear conscience that we’ve made our decision based on experience, education and the candidate’s love of our people and culture.

The excitement that the elections bring in any political office sometimes takes a front seat in the social media pages. Most times we’ll see respectful posts without any backlash from opposition supporters. But sometimes we will see the occasional negative replies that kill the excitement of who will lead us into the next decade.

I’m no expert, but seeing this brings a sour note to our Cree nation. This is isn’t who we are. I believe before any elections that we should be reminded of where we come from by the people who took us to where we are now, our Elders. Right now, we’re just the ones who have make sure we continue going in the direction we need to, to ensure the perseverance of our way of life.

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