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Here's what leaders on Walpole Island are looking for this federal election

Justice and reconciliation are some of the key things Indigenous leaders and band members of Walpole Island First Nation are looking out for in this upcoming federal election. 

From truth and reconciliation to justice for residential schools, leaders and band members want to be heard

Election thoughts

14 days ago
1:32
Leaders and band members of Walpole Island First Nation are paying attention to the federal election. Chief Charles Sampson, band member Bill Sands, and Coun. Cody Miskokomon share what's most important to them. 1:32

Justice and reconciliation are some of the key things leaders and band members of Walpole Island First Nation are looking out for in this upcoming federal election. 

The First Nation's Chief Charles Sampson said he's looking for just resolutions around land claims and respect for international frameworks like the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. 

"Most importantly, we're looking at dealing and addressing the residential school issue and these children that died unnecessarily when taken away from their families," Sampson said. 

"We want justice for them."

Hundreds of unmarked graves have been discovered at former residential school sites over the last several months.

Walpole Island First Nation is also in the middle of battling a drug epidemic within the community. Though he did not mention this as an election issue, Chief Sampson did say that he has been holding discussions with federal government on the matter. 

He said he's hoping for help from upper levels of government to help increase its police force in order to help clean up the community and close down a number of drug houses on the reserve.

Walpole Island First Nation leaders, Coun. Cody Miskokomon (left), band member Bill Sands (centre) and Chief Charles Sampson (right) want to see more action from federal officials on truth and reconciliation. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

Residential school survivor and Walpole Island band member Bill Sands says not enough work has been done to address the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action, and that's something he'll be looking for during the election.

"It's very serious," he said. 

"The bad water all across the north. Even in southwestern Ontario, we have water issues."

Walpole Island Coun. Cody Miskokomon said he feels like Indigenous voices continue to be silenced.

"It seems our votes don't really count," he said.

A key election issue for him is that he'd like to see the Indian Act changed. 

The Act passed in 1876 to define and control the lives of Indigenous people in Canada. It outlined everything from who can live on reserves to the creation of residential schools. While certain aspects of the law have changed over the years, much of it remains the same.

"A lot of stuff needs to change in that government for us to be recognized. We're still back in the cowboy and Indian days where we're trying to be heard.

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