SASKATCHEWAN – Founder of the First Nations Party in 2000/2001, Brendan Cross has announced his provincial candidateship for the Green Party of Saskatchewan. He is a young, ambitious, determined leader who paved the way for a national party of like-minded Aboriginal people across Canada. His experience in both life, and politics give him an edge over the more pampered politicians of the era – as founder of an entire political party, Brendan Cross shows both the iron will and the resourcefulness of a natural born leader. He has gone through trials in life that real people can relate to – depression, divorce, sexual harrassment at the hands of an institute of education, and a battle with bipolar disorder. He has proven his political mind, working in local politics with the Aboriginal Peoples Council of Regina, giving feedback to the Conservative Party of Canada after their election win, and meeting with Patrick Brazeau, Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples.
Brendan Cross; a voice for The People. A powerful speaker and true visionary, willing to take chances for The People. He once burned the Canadian Alliance’s policy book on stage in front of Stockwell Day during a federal election.. Who do we, as aboriginal people today, need representing us? A pencil pushing office politician? Or a real person, who has made mistakes and has walked the roads of hardship, who is willing to take action and truly stand for change? Caledonia Rattlinggourd sits down with Cross for an exclusive interview;
Reading over your autobiography I see that you’ve made many political endeavors in your life thus far; what do you attribute this fiery passion for politics to?
“I was introduced to Prime Minister Kim Campbell in Regina during the 1993 federal election, and later met Jean Chretien after he won. Since then I have watched politics closely through the media and this led to me getting involved with the Saskatchewan Party briefly in 1999 before I started the First Nations Party of Saskatchewan. Since then I’ve found my instincts and ideas are rather astute when I make them known in the political realm.”
In light of your recent candidacy for the green party, what are you hoping to bring to the green party? And what do you intend to bring to aboriginal/first nations people through the green party?
“I’m hoping my experience through the past 10 years will come in helpful to the Green Party in regards to handling media and communicating policy effectively and succinctly. Their aboriginal policies are based on respect for the Treaties & Metis rights as a foundation of the Saskatchewan identity with a goal of increasing resource revenue sharing among First Nations. This is something I believe in and it’s the Green Party that espouses it prominently in their policy statements. I hope I can help to bridge the gap between Aboriginal people and the Party and bring together a base politically.”
How do you think the voice/support of first nations/aboriginal people will impact the Green Party, and ultimately, Sask?
“The Green Party is a grass-roots third party that prides itself on being a voice of the people and hearing the voice of the people. I think that once the election gets underway officially, people will find that it is the Green Party that is open to hearing their ideas in public forums and communicating their ideas politically through the elections process. This is something that should encourage those who have been silenced to speak out again. I also think the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations & Metis Nation of Saskatchewan will find there is a new party on the scene that they can open communication with to echo their voices, too.”
How do you hope to impact The People in the coming months and, even years?
“I want to demonstrate that we should not be held back from attaining our goals whatever the barriers might be. Whether it is troubled backgrounds, social issues such as addictions, depression, or criminal pasts, we can move ahead without shame and be active in politics and making our own decisions creating our own destiny. That is why I am not giving up. Not every politician needs to be exempt from facing adversity or overcoming obstacles. We, as the People, must take it step by step, together, and celebrate each other’s successes.”
You’re a very good example of strong will-power throughout and despite adversity.. where do you draw your personal strengths from?
“I draw my personal strength from the Creator. I believe in God and I know him, so it is often in my quiet times, alone, that I listen and wait upon what I believe the Lord is calling me to. This leads me to seek out people who have similar passion to be my friends and encouragers, of course with my family as my main source of feedback and support.”
Tell me about Canada; your love for it and your hopes for its future as a whole?
“I do love Canada. I love the fact that Aboriginal Canadians, le Québécois, English Canada, and people from around the world can all come together as one nation on the global scene as a marvelous example of beliefs and principles when dealing with events and issues that affect the whole planet. People have sometimes been disappointed with the Conservatives in this regard, but I believe our best days are ahead. I honestly believe the time will come when Canada will be called to save the world in a way that will be evident to all. And I am constantly watching to prepare for this.”
You’re very open about your past and the struggles you’ve faced.. as a public figure, what’s it like to have walked both sides of the line? How do you feel you’ve healed since then?
“I no longer give anyone the power to make me feel lesser for the struggles I have. There was a time years ago that I really wanted everyone to like me, but now I know that life is a filter- there will be those who accept me and those who don’t. So for those who don’t, good. I need not be bothered. I focus my energy on meeting those who do support me and love me. And that is part of the healing. Being able to have positive people in my life.”
Mental illness is something that seems to be widely misunderstood and looked over, despite being a serious issue… and it’s something you feel strongly about. How do you feel mental healthcare should be reformed? Or are you content with its current status?
“I think that there should be more spaces available to those who need psychiatric care in hospitals with the goal always of helping the patient be healed and released. I think that there should also be more doctors and nurses with the capability of making house-calls during emergency calls involving the police or by those who suffer from mental illnesses. And I think there should be a Mental Health Commission created with the sole purpose of taking feedback from those suffering from mental issues regarding their experiences, ideas, and complaints about the whole process.”
You seem to be a huge advocate of .. giving the voiceless, a voice.. so to speak. Tell me about your thoughts on the treatment of Elders in the medical world, and in society in general?
“I think that Elders should be given a prominent role not only within Aboriginal communities and functions, but officially during community events put on by every level of government. An Elder has important advice to give, and while they need not be elected they can certainly be selected to speak to those who have been elected to give guidance and blunt honesty. I’d like to see more Elders accepted as advisors to those in power. And they should be treated well with regards to their health and well-being- accommodated sufficiently to create great quality of life.”
Suicide is a major issue among The People these days.. do you have any thoughts on what we can do to lesson the amount of people who turn to such horrific thoughts and actions? How do you think we can help our people?
“I’ve suffered from suicidal thoughts in my past and I’ve often come to the conclusion that I’m better off going to sleep. That way, I can leave the world for a bit, but wake up again! But seriously, I think that it is a spiritual problem that needs to be addressed through spiritual solutions. There should be more involvement by leaders of the communities in the day to day interactions with young people who suffer from depression and suicidal thoughts. Nobody should feel isolated or disconnected from the leaders of their communities. Prayer and healing ceremonies can also help to create a positive spiritual environment that can counter-balance the negative effects of the struggle.”
If you could say something to every Original right now..like if we were all gathered in a giant room .. what message would you like to share? What message would you like to share with the youth?
“It is time for us to take control. Take control of our thoughts. Take control of our goals. Take control of our emotions. And take control of ourselves. It is only through taking control of what is inside us that we will be able to take control of the world around us as far as we are able to. In Canada, we are a growing population with lots to offer the rest of the Canadian population and the world. When the opportunity arises, we need to take control of the events we find ourselves in the midst of, through wisdom and direct involvement in decision-making. The time is coming. And we will be ready.”
What are your thoughts on the preservation of language, and what are some of your ideas for implementing language revival?
“In Saskatchewan, Cree, Saulteaux, and Dene should be mandated languages to be taught in elementary schools along-side French & English. Across Canada, the provinces should prioritize similar Aboriginal languages based on what regions they are in. It is not a challenge. It is not unrealistic for children to be taught more than one or two languages in the elementary years. High school is different. There would come the choice. But for children of all backgrounds to be brought up in environments where they are hearing a chorus of language would only be positive.”
So, to wrap up.. tell us a little bit about the Brendan Cross people don’t get to see from the outside.. what do you like to do in your spare time?
“I like to watch the world go round and anticipate where we are going. Local and global politics are of great interest to me, but so is music and keeping up with the developments in the lives of my closest friends. I believe there is a plan for every person’s life, and we simply need to walk step by step to accomplish God’s will, which will happen in spite of ourselves. But that should be the incentive for us to want to inquire of the Creator what exactly we were created for and how we can work toward that goal so we are moving forward along-side everyone and everything else.”
The Voice of the Indigenous and Native Hoop would like to extend a thanks to Brendan William Cross for his time and company! We are proud to have you and wish you the best! A follow-up interview will be posted in the coming months.
Native Pride! ~