Walter Spence drove two hours from Peguis First Nation and stood in a packed hall of 200 people Wednesday night in Lorette, Manitoba.
He was there for the Liberal nomination rally and to hear what Liberal party leader, Justin Trudeau, had to say about his people.
“It’s a very difficult thing to be First Nations in Canada right now with the current government,” said Spence, “and I think the Liberals can make a difference.”
The rally was a nomination meeting for Liberal Terry Hayward who is running in the upcoming by-election. Even though it was held in the Conservative dominated riding of Provencher, Spence felt it was important to show his support and to represent his people.
Trudeau took a firm opposition in his speech to the Parti Québécois’ proposed values charter. The proposed charter would ban Quebec’s public sector employees from wearing religious symbols.
“Across Canada including my home province of Quebec, we defend each others’ freedoms, we don’t restrict them. Here in Provencher, in Manitoba, I don’t need to tell you how important it is to stand up for minority rights,” said Trudeau.
Spence feels the comparison between the proposed charter and First Nations rights is a good way to bring Canadians together.
“Minorities are being attacked so I can empathize with that. In each case what it comes down to is human rights,” he said.
October 7th will be the 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation, something Trudeau says was supposed to be a trusting, open partnership with the First Nations people.
“We have an opportunity now to go back to the very roots of the beginning of that partnership,” he said after his speech.
“I say that with confidence because I know it’s time we got this right. It’s long overdue for us to give the kind of respect to our first peoples that hasn’t been given in too long.”
After hearing Trudeau’s speech and meeting him personally, Spence said the two hour event was well worth a four hour commute.
“It was really nice to hear First Nations being acknowledged and to actually hear the applause as strong as it was, even though this is not my home riding,” he said.
“I hope that happens in the Interlake where I’m from.”