Header photo by Taha Tabish.
The 2015 Federal Election has already made history: it is the longest election since 1872, with more days than the 2008 and 2011 campaign periods combined. Amidst the campaign promises and "promises" is also fatigue - not just from the candidates, but from voters themselves.
If you're like me, you've probably been caught up in the campaign circus, following polls and reading analyses and taking potential Prime Ministers on ATV rides (maybe that was just me :P). But as we near the end of the never-ending campaign, it's worth pausing to note that there are other ways to take action that don't involve choosing a distant leader in Ottawa. Here are some ways to make tomorrow better, locally, proactively, and deliberately, that don't involve the 2015 Federal Election.
1. Vote in the Mayoral Election.
Oh yeah, that other election happening tomorrow.
Truth be told, your choice of mayor will much more directly impact your day-to-day and Iqaluit's community development. I wish I'd been able to do some special coverage for this on the blog, but as some of you may know, it's been an extra busy month for me as I've added the more-than-full-time job of Production Manager for Qanurli? to my schedule, plus a few other short-term projects. The blog has been slightly sidelined as a result.
In any case, the CBC has a great breakdown of the three mayoral candidates: Noah Papatsie (current City Councillor), Madeleine Redfern (former Iqaluit Mayor), and Mary Wilman (current Iqaluit Mayor). Go to the official IQ Votes website for all the information you need about the where, when, and how of the city vote.
2. Choose Your City Councillors
Same reasoning as above. These eight people will be the ones dealing with issues like municipal waste management, taxes and city budgets, and the passing of new bylaws.
The CBC has an interview with every single councillor. I won't list them all here, but check out their feature on Gideonie Joamie (I love what he says about wanting the city to take on more community programming); the sidebar links to all the candidates.
What I will do here is give a special shoutout to a few who I think have done a great job of campaigning, starting with Kuthula Matshazi. Not only does he have a blog, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account, but he has posted a full policy platform. He also has his campaign information available in English and Inuktitut and French.
Special mention has to go to Megan Pizzo-Lyall and Jason Rochon, both of whom also have an active Facebook presence. I appreciate Jason's efforts to figure out an answer to the city's $8 million deficit and I am on board with Megan's promise of creating better fiscal accountability through policy reform. Great initiatives that I think resonate with many voters.
But the reason I am highlighting these candidates is because I really appreciate their efforts to connect and communicate with the constituency. The three have made themselves available in a public way, and the public have responded with likes and comments and shares. So often with politics, the separation between candidates and voters is not only present but purposely constructed. Any act to break down the proverbial ivory tower has my support - especially if it involves social media!
3. Get involved and give a little (or a lot).
Want to get really grassroots? Go join an organization, get on a board, and make things happen at the local level. I know I'm preaching to the choir here, as Iqalummiut tend to be super involved and invested in the people and world around them, but the point still deserves to be made: we all have a part to play in social change.
Is poverty reduction most important for you? Volunteer with The Qayuqtuvik Society. Worried about mental health issues and services? Give the Embrace Life Council or the Kamatsiaqtut Help Line some of your time. Think arts programming is vital to forming better communities? Consider joining the Alianait Board of Directors.
Even if you don't have the time or energy or inclination to take on an active volunteer role, you can still participate in quieter but equally important ways. Attend community events. Donate to the Iqaluit Humane Society or the men's shelter. And the simplest act of all: give a hug and thanks to the social activists and givers in your life.
I guess what I'm really trying to say with this mini listicle is, the federal election happens but once every four years (ish). It comes with a lot of pomp and circumstance, and it's great to see that does draw more people into the conversation. But it's what happens when those media lights fade and the hashtags stop trending that could make all the difference in our joint circumstances. Hopefully, we will still be talking, and thinking, and doing; we'll keep asking for accountability and electoral reform, and we'll still take time out of our days to wonder about the decisions we make and how those influence the country we want to live in.