Keeping Eeyou Istchee together is the theme of the Grand Council of the Crees’ referendum on the offshore islands in the James Bay and Hudson Bay. But the Grand Council is doing something a little different this time around. They have added a challenge the youth component to the referendum.

The Nation supports the Grand Council’s Challenge the Youth campaign.

Not because we are for or against the referendum concerning the offshore islands, but because we wish to encourage greater political participation.

Some of you are now thinking, crap, another editorial that promises to be boring.

Most of you believe you have no say. To a certain extent that’s true!

Apathy is the true reason why you don’t feel people can’t hold our governments accountable. If you don’t participate, you don’t have a say.

If there is a clear indication of what people want then most leaders will respond. They want to get re-elected right?

In these changing times though getting the message out has been difficult. Today’s new voters, the youth, do not communicate in the same ways their parents did. Facebook, Twitter, cellphones, online blogs, websites and other tools are what young people today are used to.

With the recognition of this the Grand Council is making important changes to attract and educate new and young voters.

The Grand Council is giving away a two-song download card to the first 5000 voters. A bribe you say but think of it in this way. Voting is a habit: The strongest predictor of whether a person will vote is whether or not they have voted before. Getting young people to vote the first time pays dividends for years to come.

While the two-song download may not seem like much, you have to keep in mind that not everyone can or will want to use theirs. Ask Elders, parents and friends to vote and get the card for you. Before you know it you will have a great music library you can share with friends.

Educating yourself and telling the Grand Council what you think has rewards too.

Eligible voters who tell what they think and feel about the offshore islands will be eligible to win an iPad or an iPod Touch. The chances of winning are greater than any other contest out there.

If half of the eligible 18-35 year-olds vote, then there will be two free concerts this summer. So get out there, find out what’s going on and vote.

It’s easier than ever with polls open from March 15-26 in 20 differentlocations.

By participating you’ll not only be keeping the islands in Eeyou Istchee but building a future to ensure we keep Eeyou Istchee.