Sunday October 11, 2015

Obama organizer calls aboriginal voters in Canada a 'force to be reckoned with'

Cara Currie Hall, third from left, during a presidential visit to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

Cara Currie Hall, third from left, during a presidential visit to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. (Courtesy Cara Currie Hall)

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Cara Currie Hall played a key role in organizing the indigenous vote for presidential candidate Barack Obama. Now she's back in Canada, helping to promote local Rock the Indigenous Vote campaigns.

Asked what role indigenous people could play in the upcoming federal election, she described aboriginal voters as a "sleeping giant" and a "force to be reckoned with."

"They've never been really expected to vote, and probably aren't considered in any of the polls that are being done. We have the ability to swing this."

Currie Hall grew up in a politically active family. Born and raised in Maskwacis, Alta., her father was chief of the Montana First Nation, as was his father before that.

In 2007, while living in North Dakota, she took the leap into politics herself.

Currie Hall began organizing the indigenous vote for presidential candidate Barack Obama after receiving a phone call from Cherokee lawyer and U.S. Ambassador Keith Harper. According to Currie Hall, Harper told her "we're going to do a push in Indian Country... can you help me?" 

Cara Currie Hall's Daughter meets Obama

Currie Hall’s daughter, Faith, shakes President Barack Obama’s hand during a 2014 event. (Courtesy Cara Currie Hall)

It didn't take long for Currie Hall and other members of the U.S. Indigenous Rock the Vote campaign to be swayed by Obama's message.

'[Obama] didn't just hear us. He acted. He's a man of colour that could relate to us. He has a clear and a broad understanding of the difficulties we've had as a people.' - Cara Currie Hall

Obama, elected in 2008, garnered endorsements from Native American organizations and the support of many indigenous voters.

Currie Hall said that the president's relationship with First Peoples continues to be excellent.

"We weren't just a blip in a speech, he followed through," she said. "We've seen such advancements and attention paid to indigenous issues by this president."

Although she still lives state-side, Currie Hall said she didn't think twice about coming home to encourage the vote.

"The relationship is broken between Canada and the first people," Hall explained. "We need to correct it today. We need to correct it now to make Canada stronger."