1. How does your party plan to engage Aboriginal women to learn about the issues that matter to us and our families?
In our view there should be a close relationship between the government and the Ontario Native Women’s Association, as well as other Native Women’s organizations. The purpose should be to listen and consult with your organizations to hear first hand the needs and concerns of Native women in Ontario and across Canada, and to respond in a timely way with the rquired action. Many important concerns are already well-known to all political parties and the public, but there is no will to act. In our view the time for action is long overdue and the government should move right now to create jobs, raise living standards, improve healthcare and social programs, and adequately fund education, health, housing, childcare, culture, c;ean wate and sewage treatment facilities, and other urgently needed services and programs.
We also believe that the relationship between governments and Native peoples should be a nation to nation relationship that is respectful and that honours the Treaties and other agreements made between the two, generations ago. In particular, we believe that the government of Ontario should push hard to force the federal government to negotiate a just settlement to land claims, and to do it now. In the interim there should be no development on or under land that is subject to land claims, and no development without the agreement of those living on or near the land being developed. This applies to the Ring of Fire development currently under discussion.
2. Across the province, Aboriginal women continue to fulfill our roles as caretakers of the waters: What initiatives would your government take to encourage conservation of Ontario’s water resources?
With respect to water, Ontario should oppose the sale of water to corporations or other countries. Water is a human right, and should not be a commodity for corporations to profit from. Line 9 and fracking should both be stopped, and the Alberta tarsands should be closed. Corporations which are dumping chemicals and poisons like mercury into the lakes and waterways and poisoning Native and Northern peoples, and the environment, must be stopped by stringent government action (and governments that have the will to act). If the government is not successful in achieving corporate compliance, including high fines and penalties, then the government should take control of the company. The polluters should pay. But they should also be stopped.
3. It is well documented that Aboriginal women experience disproportionate levels of violence: What would your government do to ensure that Aboriginal women and girls in Ontario live a life that is free from violence?
500 years of genocidal policies by a succession of federal, provincial and municipal governments are the reason for the high levels of violence against Aboriginal women and girls, and also – in other ways – against Aboriginal men and boys. Racism and discrimination are still a huge factor in violence against Aboriginal women and girls, including police violence and indifference.
Cleansing police forces of racism and discrimination, eliminating racial profiling, and estabishing civilian control over police forces are an important step. Holding a public inquiry into the deaths and disappearance of hudnreds of Aboriginal women and girls should be undertaken now, and recommendations should be implemented right away.
Education should be equally and adequately funded for all children, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, and should be under the control of Aboriginal Peoples. Where numbers warrant, the language of education should be determined by those First Nations or other Aboriginal Peoples immediately concerned. Post-secondary education, including a First Nations University, should be fully funded, as well as accessisble and free to all who wish to attend. curriculum in all Ontario schools should include Aboriginal history, as well as labour and women’s history.
There must be immediate and substantial public investment in educatin, healthcare, housing to substantially improve living and social conditions on an off reserve. Social and legal services should be adequately funded and easily accessible.
Good jobs and good wages are central to the fight for economic equality and social justice.
4. According to our Aboriginal worldview, children are at the centre of our families and our communities: How does your party plan to address the high rates of Aboriginal children and youth in Ontario who are involved in the child welfare system?
Chldren are part of families, and families are part of communities. Economic and social conditions must be adressed urgently to enable families to survive and thrive. Austerity policies pursued by Liberals and Tories have caused great hardship to all working people and especially to Aboriginal peoples, and threaten more harm if they continue to be pursued. Supports to families are being torn away, when they need to be strengthened and built. We need a quality public childcare program that’s affordable and accessible to all families. We need wages (a substantially highr minimum wage) and incomes (good pensions and a lviable Guaranteed Annual Income) that are high enough so that parents can feed themselves and their children and also pay the rent, buy clothes and other necessities, and have something left over for comfort and culture and recreation.
Successive provincial and federal governments – instead of providing supports to Aboriginal families – have knocked them out. These governments and their policies are bankrupt and they should step aside.
The Communist party fights for new governments and new policies that will meet people’s needs, and reject corporate greed. We want to curb corporate power and expand equality rights, labour and democratic rights, and civil and social rights for all. We fight for broad unity around a people’s agenda that will benefit the 99%, an agenda that will be paid for by the corporations and the 1% through progressive taxation based on ability to pay. We fight for equality, democracy, and social justice; for good jobs and wages, strong social programs, affordable housing and quality healthcare and education accessible to all. And we also fight for socialism where exploitation, racism, war and oppression are historical curiosities in a world of peace, justice and equality for all.
I hope these responses will help members of ONWA to know a bit more about the Communist Party and our policies. We are a small party with big ideas, that are very often suppressed by the Big Business media and corporate interests.