Later this week, a fledgling, Sault-based political entity calling itself the First Peoples National Party of Canada will apply to register itself with Elections Canada.
The registration package being delivered to Ottawa from the Sault will include sign-up sheets from at least 500 party members from across the country. And they aren't all First Nations, Metis or Inuit, says interim party leader Barbara Wardlaw.
"It's a grassroots party for the people, by the people and about all people," Wardlaw tells SooToday.com. "Underneath we are all the same, it's for everyone."
Wardlaw, a member of the Ojibways of Michipicoten First Nation, is spearheading the new national political party.
She's planning to run candidates in 86 ridings with strong First Nation, Metis and Inuit populations, and says those candidates have a good chance of winning at least 29 of those ridings.
One of the primary goals of the fledgling party is to give these groups a fuller opportunity to participate in politics than the old lobby-group system may have allowed.
The idea is not to exclude anyone, Wardlaw explains.
"We're building a party where we are saying communities are different in some instances and what may be a priority over here for this community maybe that one over there doesn't believe that."
Wardlaw, a public service employee of the federal government, says that current leaders are out of touch with the people they make decisions for.
"If you've never lived poverty, how can you speak on behalf of [those who live] it," she says.
"If you've never been touched close by disease, how can you speak to it? How can you address it?"
"And how can we continue to let these people make decisions on our behalf?"
It's the mandate of the First Peoples National Party of Canada (FPNP) to:
- promote economic growth and sustainable communities and to fight poverty
- represent the grass roots membership and all Canadians through political participation in Canadian politics
- create and build social programs in the areas of health, education and culture
- respect the spiritual and cultural values of the membership and Canadians at large
The FPNP will be guided by its membership at large and Aboriginal, First Nations, Inuit and Metis organizations through its executive body, by respecting these cultures as well as others.
The party intends to build on communications and build relationships with all cultures and political bodies.
"When it comes right down to it, we as people, as human beings have a lot of the same issues," says Wardlaw. "We're more alike than we are different."