Much of the purpose of my job is to inform the community, to tell them what is going on, to give people a chance to engage with the community at large.
Last Thursday, I attended the Nak’azdli all candidates forum at Kwah Hall to do just that.
To hear what the candidates believed, what they stood for and what they planned to do if elected.
Questions were raised on education, language and providing role models.
I asked a question I thought was relevant to the entire community, and one I will ask of any official seeking election in the community, whether for Nak’azdli Band Council or for the Fort St. James District.
The question was essentially what would each candidate do to build bridges between First Nations and non-First Nations within the greater community and break down negative stereotypes?
I clearly did not explain clearly enough what I was getting at, because the answers I received took a much more personal direction than perhaps what I had meant by asking this in an election context.
I was given some thoughtful answers about being teachers and visiting schools, and some broad answers about welcoming all, regardless of race.
But it seems as though some candidates missed the point and were offended.
No one was accusing anyone of not building bridges, or judging the town itself. It was a question about how they would work to create more positive relationships between local governments and within the community if they were elected.
All small towns in the interior of this province, if not all provinces are struggling with these issues, (including the one I’m from) and have to work hard to build good working relationships within governments and communities.
I have family who have worked within their own governments on reserve, and I have always been interested by the challenges they face.
There are no easy answers to how different governments can work together, especially when there is such a long and complex history involved.
But perhaps the point I was really trying to make was how will you look forward, and build a better future for the youth, because it was the youth many candidates kept speaking about, their education, pride in their language, protecting their land and water.
Somehow, I don’t think anger and defensiveness is quite the answer those youth need.