Feature Story Sunday, March 2, 2014
The Fun Side of Politics
Jasper entertains at Federal Liberal meeting
Inez Jasper sang to an appreciative crowd at Squiala Hall Friday. Below, MP Stephane Dion shows the Voice a his drum gift from Stó:lō elder Eddie Gardner.
he Federal Liberals haven’t forgotten about Chilliwack. In November 2012, current leader Justin Trudeau’s big bus rolled through town. Then, last August, it was MP Ralph Goodale who bounced a few red and white beach balls around the city.
On Friday, MP Stephane Dion took his turn touring the Chilliwack-Hope riding.
You’ve got to hand it to Dion, he really earned his salary Friday after being hounded by reporters, rushed through lunch, hauled onto a roof, coated in dust and pounded by drums..
Looking to prop up support within the Native community, Dion capped off his lively day at the Squiala Hall on Ashwell Drive where he was treated to stories and speeches and even a mini-concert from local pop-hip hop singer Inez Jasper.
“J” is the lucky letter for Jasper who will find out March 30th at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, if she gets to bring home a JUNO Award after her latest CD called Burn Me Down was short-listed for Aboriginal Album of the Year.
The event was organized by local Liberals, and judging from the number of chairs, there were high expectations for a good turnout.
But the crowd was surprisingly light. From a Liberal perspective, that means more work and less play in the trenches to fill those seats.
Eddie Gardner, Squiala elder and wild salmon activist, drummed and sang. His ageless voice as clear and strong as ever. Later, he presented Dion with a hand-painted drum and stick.
Louis De Jaeger, Bravo Restaurant owner, looked blithe in his traditional Métis ribbon shirt when he introduced Sheryl Fisher, President of the Aboriginal People's Commission (APC), from the Squamish First Nation
Fisher, like many, wants the antiquated 1876 Indian Act revitalized and amended to include at least 17 key recommendations from the various First Nations groups, including the APC.
She also talked about Trudeau’s 1969 White Paper, which was meant to erase inequalities but felt it didn’t go quite far enough.
Although Fisher didn’t get into specifics, she said that it was current land and water use issues that influenced her decision to get into politics on a national level and run in the 2015 election.
At that point, she took an in-depth look for a political party who best represented the needs First Nations.
“I began to research which party I would become involved with; either the NDP, or the Liberal Party, because traditionally, that’s who Aboriginal people vote for,” she explained
Sheryl Fisher from Squamish Nation, hopes to be elected in 2015 as the Liberal candidate for the West Vancouver-Sea to Sky riding. Below, Louis De Jaeger, owner of Bravos Restaurant on Yale Rd. talks about inclusivity of First Nations in today's politics.
Fisher lauded the efforts of former Prime Minister Paul Martin to bring Aboriginal people to the table, and the strong relationship he built with First Nations.
Eventually, she decided to throw her hat into the ring for the Liberal party, concluding they were the only party capable of building on their policy recommendations and pushing them through.
“They showed a better way to acknowledge us and bring us together, as opposed to living under the antiquated Federal Indian Act which we’ve grown so accustomed to for many generations,” she said.
De Jaeger said that it wasn’t about jealousy, hate, resentment, greed, language, genders, gender choice or human diversity.
“None of that matters here. What matters is inclusivity and the sound of one heart beating. This drum symbolizes the First Voice and brings forward a message to also involve and inspire,” he said.
De Jaeger recalled about how when he was a Liberal candidate and attending a convention in Winnipeg where all the candidates were wearing Métis sashes.
At the end of the convention, a women approached him and said that she wanted to present him her sash.
“I want to give this to you as a sign of good luck on your campaign" she told him.
"In turn, I would like to pass this to you as a sign of good luck and hope that it helps you bring home the JUNO,” he told Jasper before re-gifting her the sash.
After the show, Jasper told the Voice she can’t wait to return to Manitoba.
“I’m absolutely excited. I’ve been there many times. But it’s different every time. The first time we went to the JUNOs we were in St. John’s Newfoundland. That was different. I’d never traveled there before and that was in 2010.”
“Now, fast forwarding to 2014 and going back to Winnipeg where I have a good fan base and two big radio stations who have been behind me from day one. I’m just honored to be nominated for Aboriginal Recording of the Year,” she gushed.
According to Jasper, it’s a tough group to best.
“It’s a really challenging category to be nominated in because there are so many different genres of music in it, so it’s difficult to compare rock music to pop music.”
This year, George Leech is also nominated in the same category. Jasper says she loves his music. They've become great friends since she was the opening act on his BC-wide Tour.
Leech and Jasper also did duets covering one of her favourite songs by him called “Try”.
“He’s a great guy. Amazing artist,” she said.
Jasper’s two young children romped around the room while their mom sang. Even Jasper’s mom was there watching with pride as her daughter ran though a flawless set.
Over the years Jasper leaped hurdles and endured many sacrifices to put herself through school and on the way to becoming a registered nurse. All the while developing her musical career.
In the capacity of nurse, she helped to change a lot of lives.
Ironically, now that she’s just a hair’s breadth away from joining Canada’s music elite, her own life could also be inextricably changed forever should she come home with the JUNO.
See more photos below and read about her in a 2011 Voice story here.
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