MP Charlie Angus on Indigenous equality, NDP leadership

Timmins-James Bay MP Charlie Angus is in Waterloo region speaking with students about Indigenous equality issues. He told CBC K-W's The Morning Edition host Craig Norris he hasn't ruled out a run for the NDP leadership.

Young people get ‘what reconciliation means in a way that politicians don’t’

Timmins-James Bay MP Charlie Angus is in Waterloo region this week talking to students about Indigenous equality. (Joe Pavia/CBC)

Young people understand the issues facing Canada's Indigenous communities and want to be part of the change, Timmins-James Bay MP Charlie Angus says.

The politician is in Waterloo region this week talking to students from elementary school to university about Indigenous equality and the issues he raises in his book, Children of the Broken Treaty: Canada's Lost Promise and One Girl's Dream.

He received letters from students at Kitchener's Queensmount Public School. One little girl named Madeline thanked him for "inspiring many children and adults to stop being just bystanders and take action with the Attawapiskat school crisis. You helped get Canadians to protest, donate and stand up for the rights of our children."

"I was so blown away by those letters and I wanted to go meet with them and talk with them," Angus told Craig Norris, host of The Morning Edition, during an interview Thursday.

"That's really, to me, what's been a powerful movement in Canada – how young people, they get this issue, they get the issue of what reconciliation means in a way that politicians don't."

'Communities full of drive and vigour'

As a white man, Angus said he has to balance advocating for the Indigenous communities in his riding without going too far.

His job is to listen to concerns, then speak out about injustice from federal and provincial governments.

"On the issues of cultural identity, on the issues of where the indigenous communities are going, I can participate, but I am not that voice," he said.

What is important for him is to remind Canadians the people living in these communities have much to offer the country.

"These are not hopeless communities. These are communities full of drive and vigour and young people who will transform the world," he said.

"That's why I get angry and frustrated at the unwillingness of government to give the resources to give these kids what they need."

Mulling leadership bid

The NDP will be choosing a new leader by this October, with the race officially set to begin July 2.

"We are in a really important time in our history," Angus said.

"We really need a clear, coherent, moral voice that's not afraid to stand up for what a vision of a better Canada looks like."

So, is Charlie Angus that voice?

He said he wants to hear from people and he's considering his options, but nothing is certain yet.

"If I have a mandate to move forward, I'll do it," Angus said. "I would say, stay tuned."

Listen to the whole interview: