Sunday, May 1, 2011

O Kanata/Canada


I have to confess, this election is totally bringing out a major schizophrenic split in me. On one hand, my left-leaning, democratic socialist trade union side is going -- rock the vote, the NDP is gonna bring an orange wave of change, let’s do this! I’m gleefully giddy about the prospect of a major thumbs-down to the bullshit right-wing rhetoric the Conservative Party of Canada has been shovelling down the throat of people in this country. An NDP government would be an amazing thing to see.

On the other hand, my Haudenosaunee side is rolling her eyes, going yeah whatever. How does this matter? The settlers are voting on yet another regime that will only reinforce the oppressive systems that deny me and my people our inherent right to sovereignty and self-determination. Our rights have been dictated by the racist and colonialist Indian Act which determines what is an "Indian" in this country. In order to resist the Indian Act definition of what I am in Canada, I proclaim that I am a citizen of the Haudenosaunee and our sovereign nation, enshrined in treaties with first the British and its inheritors and therefore predates the colonials' version of nationhood.

I’m a bit conflicted, and I don’t know what I can do to reconcile the split.

However, I had a very cool conversation this past weekend with my brother-in-arms, the organizer at my union. He said that if the settlers want to give you a vote in their settler election, why not go for it? In thinking about this, I had to concede the point. This freedom is denied to a lot of people around the world, and because we live in a first world nation with all of the attendant economic privilege, we should be exercising the ability to vote. To not do so dishonours all of those people who have died fighting for the same democratic right.

It’s a conundrum.

My son, who turned 18 in December, is so excited about voting for the first time in an election, about voting NDP after carefully considering the various platforms of the parties and attending a town hall to see how the candidates answered (thanks Olivia Chow, you convinced him!). Because my son is a hybrid and truly a Canadian citizen, born in Toronto and raised in the downtown milieu by me and his white father, I do not deny him the wisdom of his choice to vote in the election. He has to straddle both worlds, as does my daughter. They are my stealth fighters against the colonial system. They get to challenge privilege from within because they look white at first glance but they are registered band members at Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. My children are my way of infiltrating and infecting colonial Canada with a very tailored Haudenosaunee virus.

So I’m not sure what I’m going to do. I have the day off on election day. I plan to get up late and wander over to the polling station and take a look at who is voting. Whether or not I will cast a ballot remains to be seen.

At this point I am saying No, even as my fervent trade unionist heart screams frantically at me, saying what’s wrong with you, there’s a major chance to change everything, and you are being a selfish resisting insurgent. But my Haudenosaunee soul says why would you vote in the election of a foreign nation that exploits, insults, ignores, assimilates and tried outright genocide against indigenous people?

And in the end, I know what my decision must be.