The former chair of the Minister’s Advisory Council on Indigenous Women headed to the advanced polls to cast her vote despite admitting disappointment in B.C’s political parties when it comes to the health, safety and wellness of Indigenous women.
“I thought about it — should I even bother going,” said Cariboo-Chilcotin resident Chastity Davis-Alphonse.
“But also I think it is important fundamentally to ensure that our voices are included and heard.”
B.C. political party leaders were criticized in an Oct. 14 open letter by Indigenous and women’s advocacy groups for not including a plan within their platforms to implement the calls for justice from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
“I had this fire in my belly as I was driving away from the voting polls just thinking of all of the injustices and just really wanting to see change for Indigenous women in this province,” Davis-Alphonse said, noting when Indigenous women thrive so do Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.
“I do have hope that things will change and hopefully sooner rather than later.”
As a young girl, Davis-Alphonse said her non-Indigenous father would always tell her the importance of voting.
She hasn’t missed voting in an election since, and encourages voters to take the time to educate themselves on the inequalities of Indigenous women.
Indigenous people and Japanese-Canadians were not allowed to vote in B.C. until 1949 noted Elections BC on its website.
Nationally, Indigenous people were not allowed to cast their ballot until 1960 when the federal government enacted the Canada Elections Act which granted all ‘registered Indians’ the right to vote, stated Elections Canada.
“The one thing that has always stuck with me is the importance of women having a voice in politics,” Davis-Alphonse said.
“Even though the system at this time is slanted and has always been slanted against Indigenous women and oppressed Indigenous women, it will take many leaders such as Indigenous women going out and voting, and education and having allyship with non-Indigenous women and men standing with us because we won’t be able to do it alone.”