REPORTING · 13th May 2013
It was a grey day on Saturday, May 11th but this did not stop a vote mob from gathering in the City Centre Mall Parking Lot and marching to Mountain View Square.
“We’re doing a vote mob to raise awareness about voting because only half the population is getting out and voting and we’re trying to increase the excitement around it and get people out to vote,” said Christine Lewis. “If you don’t vote, you don’t have a say in the direction our society goes. We are lucky to live in a country where we have the right to put some input into that and I think it is very important that everyone gets out and does their civic duty.”
She encouraged the youth to get out to vote because only a small percentage of youth are voting, in comparison to a larger amount of older people who are voting. She pointed out if this trend continues, there will not be many people left willing to vote for the future.
Prior to the march, there were several speakers who took to the microphone to speak about why voting was important. Michelle Martins from Tamitik Status of Women told the story about how women earned the right to vote in Canada and how it paved the way for injustices in Canadian society to be fixed through the constitution.
Allyson Fokuhl, from the Kitimat District Teachers Association spoke about how she worked overseas in countries where rights were not equal. In Saudi Arabia, she did not have the right to drive, could not be seen in public with a man who was not related unless she was with a married couple or a representative of the school. In Equatorial Guinea, there were two factions, one aggressive tribe who left the other tribe without any rights.
She expressed that voter apathy shows governments they can do whatever they wish. High voter turn-out shows them the people are watching, and if they do not like what the government is doing, the government will be out.
Chief Councillor Ellis Ross from Kitamaat Village was the final person to speak. “It wasn’t long ago, and my dad still remembers, that signs outside businesses said: ‘No dogs or Indians allowed.’ That’s a shame, but it’s past, history, we have to accept it. Then you take a snap shot of today. More than ever, First Nations are influencing what happens in Canada and BC. We’re being included. With that inclusion comes responsibility, duties as First Nations, as residents of BC, as residents of Canada and that is to vote,” said Ross.
He expressed the only thing missing for First Nations right now is representatives at the Federal and Provincial Levels. He explained there is more to Aboriginal Certainty than Economics. He expressed no matter who one choses to vote for, there is only so much they can do as they are guided by legislation and bureaucracy to keep them in check.
“What the Haisla do is actually bring environmental stewardship and what we do is fill the gaps on what the Provincial and Federal Government can’t do,” said Ross. “If economics is driven by Aboriginal certainty, it is more important for us that these political parties understand it because if you do not have Aboriginal Certainty, you do not have environmental stewardship and you will not have economic development.”
He stated the politicians who are running fear, respect, need and want peoples’ votes. Even after being elected, they keep an ear to the ground so they know what people think of their decision making. Ross concluded by saying that people around the world are fighting and dying for the right to vote. In Canada, the people have it.
The procession marched passed Supervalu, around Shoppers Drug Mart and past the Mall, Dairy Queen and Envision before crossing the street at the Library and reaching the polling station at Mountainview Square. There several people broke off to go in and vote.
Don’t forget to vote, Tuesday, May 14th.