Family, friends, loved ones, enemies no more. In two weeks I'll have completed my requirements for my bachelor of arts degree in political science. It's been an interesting journey, one that began in 1991 at Capilano College, with stopovers in student union, urban and old school and radical Indian politics, Cornwall, Ottawa, Toronto, Surrey, Port Alberni, Ladysmith and finally here in Victoria. I've learned a lot and met a lot of cool people.
I've met a lot of passionate people in the "movement" and developed a stronger sense of my own indigenous identity. I even had a brief stint as a member of the now-defunct West Coast Warrior Society. I've even taken a few peeps under my wing, dispensing red pills, promising only the truth, never mind the years of frustration, anger and further disillusionment. I've invaded your ears with indigenous revolutionary rhetoric from the radio waves of CHLY in Nanaimo along with the rest of the Goin' Coastal crew. And of course, I've utilized this space to weBLOG my insightful, pretentious ramblings about the indigenous revolution for nearly 3 years now.
Well, all good things come to an end. At the conclusion of this rite of passage, my graduation now assured, I'm reminded of that verse from Corinthians that they often read at weddings about setting aside childish things.
Last term, in the course of some research for a paper on indigenous participation in Canadian electoral and party politics, I came into contact with some really amazing people. They were young, positive, and motivated indigenous people - that also happened to be members of the Liberal Party of Canada. At first, I was a little stand-offish and even maybe a little mean. I insinuated that they had somehow abandoned their indigeneity by participating in the colonial master's game. I was convinced that they had fooled themselves into thinking that they could actually do something from the inside.
Well, to their credit, they were kind and patient and over the course of our discussions I began to see things in a new way, in a way that I had never fully appreciated before. Sure, I had worked for the Tribal Council and been exposed to indigenous-state politics, but I never really believed in it, until now. This one woman in particular floored me with some key revelations: "I would rather be inside making decisions for our people than outside protesting" and the real kicker, "It's easier to change the minds of your friends than your enemies."
I could not believe it. The cat had my tongue. I didn't know what to say. How could I dispute these obvious truths? Needless to say, the idea needed time to marinate in my thoughts and feelings for several months before I could make sense of it. I mean, messing with this idea of progressive and positive thinking was all the stuff I learned from Tai, Vine, and others, but I believe now is the time for me to change directions. It would be a lie to say that I am actually renouncing all those things I wrote and said. I think they had their place - like the Corinthians passage reminds us but what are our options, realistically? I mean really?
So, I take this opportunity to announce to you now, that I have accepted a special appointment as "Indigenous Advisor" to the Minister of Indian Affairs, Chuck Strahl. I've talked to Chuck a few times and he actually likes my ideas and thinks I have a lot to contribute from a slightly different perspective. I'm really encouraged.
Upon graduation in April, I will be travelling to Ottawa to take up my post and see if I can really make a difference from within. I believe I can.
Oh yeah, and one more thing...
APRIL FOOLS' DAY! ;-)