There are a lot of First Nation elections for Chief and Council happening this summer. In Attawapiskat and other small remote communities people are getting excited as election time draws near. I remember wondering what all the fuss was about.
Just before election time, people started to talk. The big discussion in most households, over at the Northern Store, in the schools, the hospital and on the streets had to do with the upcoming election. It always seemed that nobody thought about politics all year around until just a couple of weeks before election night. Suddenly, everyone was a critic and we all had passionate views of what should be done for the community, who should do it and what kind of job the Chief and Council had been doing.
As a matter of fact, things got downright vicious with people calling for the downfall of a Chief or Councillor, usually based on a whim. These criticisms grew and soon it seemed as though many of us were part of a pack of wolves ready to remove people from their positions of power.
Politics in my community also seemed to go in cycles. At one point a certain family with many connections through the community might rise to prominence through the elections, to Chief and Council. Then a few short years later they seemed to fall from grace and a new slate of community favourites were voted into power. Strangely, again a few years later often those who had been dethroned first time around would somehow be put back up on a pedestal again and elected into office. I could never figure any of it out and it just seemed kind of silly to me.
You could imagine how shocked I was recently when several people from back home suggested I run for Chief or Council.
I have no idea why they decided that I was the man for this job. They were amazed that I felt no great desire to become a politician. To tell you the truth that kind of a move is the last thing I have on my mind.
I have no desire to work in a position which offers constant abuse and criticism. I don’t have a thick enough skin to be a politician. I think this is one of the most thankless jobs there is. No matter what political leaders do, they are in the spotlight.
If a politician tries to please one group of people no doubt, he or she, will be out of favour with some other group.
I respect those people who have a passion to run for public office, but I also feel sympathy for them. I think most people have no idea what they are getting into.
I guess people become politicians for all kinds of reasons. It might be the money, it is probably the power, and once in a blue moon it could be that someone wants to actually help their community. Whatever the reason, I have decided that this is not a job I would aspire to.
I wish all those running for office in First Nation communities, good luck. It is a fact that we need good leadership to deal with all of the complex problems that are coming our way. I hope people will think twice before condemning those who have held political office. There are few people who are willing to put up with the baloney that political leaders have to deal with. One thing for sure, I am not one of them.