|A new party formed to represent aboriginal Canadians is fighting its first federal election.
The First Peoples National Party of Canada is running a total of five candidates in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. The partys platform states that all Canadians "should be protected from hardship, suffering and poverty as a result of social injustices and lack of economic opportunities." The party promises it will promote economic growth and fight poverty, create effective social programs and respect the spiritual and cultural values of all Canadians.
Doug Dokis, who is Anishnaabe and a member of the Dokis First Nation in northern Ontario, is running for the party in Calgary Centre-North.
Dokis says the new aboriginal party is needed because consecutive federal governments have largely ignored or mismanaged aboriginal issues. Dokis says aboriginal people havent felt engaged in the political process because they dont feel that their concerns are heard.
He says the future is bright for his party because of the rapidly growing aboriginal population in Canada.
"The demographics of Canada right now, in a number of areas theres high populations of aboriginal people
. There is the potential to influence a number of ridings across the country and win seats right now," he says. "The long-term goal is to put as many people in Ottawa as possible to influence Canadian politics."
Dokis says the federal government has had "an underlying assimilation policy from day one" and its time for a strong voice for aboriginal Canadians.
"Aboriginal people need to be able to control or be equal partners in resource and land management and then theres all these social and economic problems that are basically reflective of a political system that has created most of these problems. Our situations are Third World," says Dokis.
Dokis says he was inspired after a recent trip to New Zealand in which he learned that the Maori are heavily active in their countrys political system.
He says hes hopeful that his party will inspire aboriginal people to get out and vote to increase the low voter turnout, and hes already received a lot of support from the aboriginal community.
"The community is stepping forward and saying its about time," says Dokis.
He also wants to "dispel some of the myths that create some of the resentments towards aboriginal people." Dokis says its important, for example, for Canadians to understand the treaties the federal government signed with aboriginals. For more information on the new party you can go to www.fpnpoc.ca.