The federal election is almost upon us, and advance voting has already begun. Perhaps you have been to the polls already, or maybe you are still deciding whether or how to vote. At West Coast LEAF, we’re also thinking about our options, our election priorities, and how we engage in democracy in this settler colonial system. Here are some of the things our staff are considering as we approach election day:

 
Photo of a clear glass door with a yellow Elections Canada sign that reads, "VOTE," with an arrow pointing straight
Photo Credit: ishmael n. daro
 

“The first thing that’s front of mind for me is how can I differentiate between the candidates? Even though I know quite clearly what issues matter to me, I find it harder and harder to differentiate between candidates because each seems to say different versions of the same thing. This upsets me because I think it dissuades people from voting. So I try to ask myself two questions:

1. What has this candidate’s/party’s action shown about the way they will handle the issue I care about?
2. Does this candidate speak through a privilege-based framework or a rights-based framework?

This second question is tough to assess. Having just worked on a report on the impact of the child welfare system on Indigenous communities, an issue that’s front and center for me is funding for child welfare services for Indigenous communities. So, I have been asking myself: Which of the candidates say they think services should be fully funded? Which of the candidates thinks the recent Canadian Human Rights Tribunal decision should be followed?”

Elba Bendo, Director of Law Reform

 

What I am taking with me to the polls is a resolve that no matter what happens, I want to push for accountability

 

“This is the second country that I’ve lived in where I don’t have the right to vote. Election seasons make me somewhat frustrated, [because as a non-citizen] I do not get a say.

So, when voters go to the polls, I hope they are thinking about climate change, prioritizing public health and the health of our natural world over profit, and the comfort of the status quo. I hope they are thinking about the importance of preserving and expanding access to lifesaving reproductive healthcare, including abortion; as well as public education, and the rights of students, teachers, and other staff to be able to have access to the resources they need.

Thinking about this also reminds me of all the ways that we can work on building a better and safer world that do not involve voting. I hope that whether or not we can vote, or choose to vote, that we can commit ourselves to small and frequent acts of care for ourselves and our communities – whatever that may look like, and regardless of where we are.”

Cecile Afable, Youth Workshop Coordinator

 
Photo of a person holding a cardboard sign that reads, "PLANET OVER PROFIT."
Photo Credit: Markus Spiske on Unsplash
 

Going to the polls this year, I have been reflecting a lot on what choice means. In a riding where I do not feel like I have to vote strategically against my values, for fear of something worse happening, I have been having a lot of what-if reflections. What I am taking with me to the polls is a resolve that no matter what happens, I want to push for accountability and a hope for a future not shaped by fear.”

Sharnelle Jenkins-Thompson (she/her/hers), Manager of Community Outreach and proud tortoise parent

 
Photo of a group of demonstrators holding many signs and a banner, you can not see, one sign is a medicine wheel that reads, "water is life."
Photo Credit: Vlad Tchompalov on Unsplash
 

As I head to the polls to vote on October 21, I am thinking about the land on which I will be casting my ballot. This is unceded land. I am a settler here whose family was granted permission to settle in this place by a colonizing government. My ancestors moved here from lands that were also colonized. Processes of colonization shaped how I came to be here, and continue to shape how I am here. I am thinking about how casting a ballot is a privilege I have, but one that I exercise to elect a government resulting from colonization.

I am doing my best to understand what it means to hold both of those feelings just as tangibly as I can hold a ballot. This year my vote will be an act of harm reduction: I will vote for the party who will do the least harm to the most of us; who will invest in working toward a better way of being; who will invest in the sustainability and stewardship of these lands that I’ve come to inhabit in ways that I am still working at understanding; who will move the dial on decolonization.”

Raji Mangat, Executive Director

 

we hope you’ll continue to work with us to hold the government accountable to its promises and to create a more equal and just society for all people who are marginalized because of their gender

 

 “I don’t have Canadian citizenship, so I’m unable to vote in this election. I have complicated feelings about applying for citizenship from a settler colonial state, while also knowing that voting is one way to have a say about the laws and policies enacted on these lands. I always vote in my home country because I believe that voting is an important way to set the conditions under which we can take action and organize for a more just world.

If I was voting in this election, my priority would be bringing in a government that listens to and respects Indigenous peoples and their sovereignty; that takes the climate crisis and its impact on marginalized populations seriously; and that is ready to protect and steward the land, the way Indigenous peoples have since time immemorial.”

Catherine Hart, Manager of Fundraising

 
Photo of a glass door with a sign on it that reads, "POLLING STATION."
Photo Credit: Elliott Stallion on Unsplash
 

 Whether you’re voting this election or not, and whatever your priorities for change, we hope you’ll continue to work with us to hold the government accountable to its promises and to create a more equal and just society for all people who are marginalized because of their gender.
 
 

Questions? Feedback? Email us at blog@westcoastleaf.org