I know voting is by secret ballot but there’s no law sharing one’s choice, which I’m about to do for this election. In Abitibi–Baie-James–Nunavik–Eeyou I will be voting for Romeo Saganash, the current MP and candidate for the New Democratic Party.

I like most of the NDP platform and the way they have acted on both sides of the James Bay territory. On the west side, NDP MP Charlie Angus championed First Nations concerns from schooling to assistance for natural disasters, sub-standard housing and much more. As MP, Saganash has done the same for Eeyou Istchee and the rest of his riding.

It is not to say the other parties’ candidates haven’t stepped forward on Aboriginal issues, concerns and such. In power, the Conservatives negotiated a new relationship agreement with the Cree Nation. However, I do not agree with the First Nations Financial Transparency Act and others of that ilk pushed through without consulting First Nations. The Liberals have been okay and indifferent as well in the past.

For me it comes down to one thing, Saganash is one of our own. He understands the north and all of the residents who live there. He is a First Nations person who has lived both on and off the Cree communities. He is well known by all peoples and respects them all.

Having a First Nations person as our Member of Parliament is as important as seeing President Obama elected in the United States. It adds a different dimension to the parliamentary mix that is needed.

Having an Aboriginal MP elected has been a godsend to First Nations in the past. It is simply explaining what is meant when a First Nations negotiator says something. Different cultures and backgrounds do not always give the same meaning to words. Self-government, for example, even among the many First Nations across Canada does not mean the same thing.

Finally, it was 1968 before any Cree person was even allowed to vote in Quebec. Now we are the swing vote in any election on our territory. If we come out and vote we decide who best represents us. It’s taken over 40 years to have a Cree Member of Parliament. I want a Cree to represent Eeyou Istchee. Our land, our people, our destiny and a Cree to keep an eye on what Ottawa plans for our future.