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by Kellah Lavoie

The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Assembly had some interesting discussion, but what was even more interesting was how the meeting convened.

Anyone who has ever been to question period in Parliament would expect a noisy yelling fest with the odd profanity thrown in. But FSIN does it with more class.

The sheer discipline held by the chiefs was phenomenal. They valued their time to talk, waited their turn and had complete respect for the Speaker.

It was my first time at such an event. I’ve attended Parliament before and expected a similar atmosphere between both governments.

I was floored when all the chiefs assembled quickly and quietly. Many of them even went around to speak with the observers first and shake the hands of people they have never met. It was a far cry from anything you would see in Ottawa.

It began with an honour song, as many First Nations events do, and then they got right into discussion. It was the second day of proceedings and the FSIN was in the thick of it.

The most heated the conversation got was when the chiefs started to discuss why they were being suppressed. The anger was directed towards the “white man” instead of inwardly and towards each other. While rage was evident, the conversation was quickly stomped because many chiefs found it to be not a valuable use of their time and energy. Finding solutions was more important than blaming people for the problems they were suffering.

It is interesting see how traditional the chiefs and elders were in their speaking. They told stories of cultural history and how things have changed from what they used to be.

Parliament uses future-driven ideas. They do not look at how the past events have or will affect the future.

The assembly was an astounding gathering that made it obvious to me how much more respect First Nations have within their politics than there are within federal politics. They show much more reverence towards each other as well as their chiefs and elders.

Canadians seem to have distaste for anything political and see their leaders as money-hungry, with personal agendas and nothing better to do than watch their own backs. In aboriginal government it appears that leaders have the best interests of their constituents at heart.

Through the use of polite language and general respect for other leaders they gain the respect of the people they represent. It is something that would be genuinely appreciated among Canadians who are fed up with the House of Commons.

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