Aaron Paquette, one of the country’s most recognized and accomplished artists, is representing NDP for Edmonton Manning, in Canada’s upcoming October 19 federal election.
At 41 years of age, Paquette, still in his prime, is already an accomplished artist, poet, author, curator, teacher and keynote speaker. He’s a hard working, honest, nationally respected doer who is not only setting new precedents, he’s taking on new challenges and he’s doing it for all the right reasons.
“I am knocking on doors, meeting the constituents in Edmonton Manning and listening to the things that concern them. If elected I am ready to help them resolve their issues, just as I will be proud to serve NDP leader Tom Mulcair and all Canadians in any way I can,” he said in a recent interview.
As one of Canada’s premiere First Nations/Metis artists, Aaron Paquette has been strengthening communities for years through both images and words; as part of Tom Mulcair’s NDP team, he is ready to get the job done through politics as well.
“I am actively involved and in tune with the issues of the day,” he explained as to why he decided to throw his hat in the political ring. “I am very concerned for the future of our children and their ability to provide a good life for their own kids one day. I believe that we need a sensible and fact based approach to both social programs and criminal justice, based on community and strong values as opposed to a purely punishment approach. We need to build less prisons and create more and better education opportunities.
“I joined this race because I want to do my part to help move our society back into an alignment with our core values. I’m not a career politician; I haven’t carefully groomed my resume. I am simply a man who wants to help and I believe I can. I am hopeful that every voter in Edmonton Manning will want to be involved in making a difference in this pivotal period in Canada’s history. I believe a new chapter is about to be written; I can feel it and I know you can too. Let’s make sure this is a story we can all be proud of. ”
Paquette said that he is proud of the stance taken by NDP leader Tom Mulcair, noting that was one of the main reasons he decided to vie for an NDP candidacy.
“This is a party that cares about Aboriginal people and Aboriginal rights and Mr. Mulcair has already made it clear that when elected he will take immediate action. His agenda will deal with numerous issues, including the recommendations put forth by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the call by Canadians who want to see an inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women.”
NDP leader Tom Mulcair has announced several measures he will take should he win the October election. More announcements are expected but he has already made promises to create a cabinet-level committee, chaired by the prime minister, to ensure federal government decisions respect treaty rights, inherent rights and Canada’s international obligations. He’s also pledged to call an inquiry into the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls within 100 days of taking office. In addition, Mulcair noted in a recent announcement, his government will ensure that all new legislation abides by the United Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
“The NDP commitment to building nation to nation relationships will result in many positive developments that strengthen Indigenous communities and families,” assured Paquette.
“The recommendations put forward by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission will be one important guide and includes ideas such as recognizing Indigenous laws, restoration and justice. It is recognized that generations of the Residential School experience have broken families, communities and individual lives. Dealing with root causes are always more economical and effective than allowing issues to become increasingly complex, expensive and harmful. Rather than increasingly criminalizing people, with the TRC recommendations we can find better ways to foster and encourage an era of healing.”
Diversity is important when it comes job creation, especially in light of the fact that when oil prices drop, jobs are lost and the economy pays the price. Aaron Paquette said that “people want to see better environmental controls and they want to see a more diverse economy. Canada can’t thrive or survive the ups and downs of the economy by focusing only on resource extraction and the selling out of our land and mineral rights. We need to come together and look at different ways of generating money.”
He also noted that that too much money is being spent on court cases, suggesting that if the government “stops fighting with Indigenous Nations, we can move forward together – both in peace and prosperity. There’s enough for everyone; we just have to start working together for the betterment of the future. Think about what could be accomplished with the $100 million or so that Ottawa spends every year in the courtroom trying to impede Indigenous progress and devaluate Aboriginal rights.”
Mr. Paquette said he’s also like to see a better justice system – one that works intelligently.
“I believe that people shouldn’t be criminalized for standing up for clean water, land and air, nor should they be cast in the light of terrorism just because of their culture, faith or creed. We need to balance justice with both compassion and punishment; serious crimes need to be dealt with differently than those for people who just can’t afford to pay a fine.”
He also said that “the way we treat our veterans is a national disgrace” and vows to be on the team seeking solutions. He also wants to see more money put into the arts.
“When you do that,” he said, “it’s a proven fact that more money is generated than is spent.”
Based in Edmonton, Alberta, Aaron has been creating art for more than two decades. He apprenticed and has become both a cathedral stained glass artist and a goldsmith, influences of which can be seen in the line and structure of his paintings – displayed in various galleries throughout the country.
Aaron is also an experienced facilitator, trainer and engaging public speaker. He has worked with the Royal Conservatory’s adjunct program – Learning Through the Arts – as both a Mentor Artist and as the First Nations Representative and Consultant in Alberta. This experience focused on providing the skills and background knowledge for infusing differentiated learning within the general curriculum in Alberta and the Northwest Territories. Aaron has collaborated with Ministries, Teachers’ Associations, and various community members and teachers, providing region wide teacher workshops and in-school experiences related to the art curriculum that also provide an FNMI perspective. Through this collaboration, he also provides student workshops, professional development sessions and artist-in- residence programs. A skilled communicator, Aaron has worked with Alberta Education in reconciliation, specifically between communities and school administration. He has worked for years with the Edmonton Public School Board with both in-class sessions and special sessions for promising young artists. The Catholic School Boards in the Central and Northern Alberta region have also enlisted Aaron in many projects ranging from elementary school visits that tie art into curricular learning to mural painting with High School students.
The author’s greatest joys are his wife, his four year old and four month old sons and his twin teenage boys.
“I’ve learned never to take anything for granted and of course I know there is a difficult road in front of me, but I’d like your support and on election day, I urge you to get out and vote; we need a new and responsible government in Ottawa. Let it be the NDP.”
by John Copley