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Free Press: Higher indigenous turnout hoped for in provincial vote

March 17, 2016 — 

As the Winnipeg Free Press reports:

Niigaan Sinclair, head of the native studies department at the University of Manitoba, said the poor relationship between the previous Conservative government and First Nations in Canada drove a lot of people to change their mind about voting in federal elections.

“(Stephen) Harper made a very politically aware body of indigenous people,” said Sinclair.

He said at the same time as there was a desire to replace the existing government with one that would be more friendly to indigenous people, there was also suddenly more than one option.

Sinclair said both the NDP and the Liberals included a lot of indigenous issues in their platforms. In past elections “it was very easy to feel apathetic,” said Sinclair.

Last fall’s turnout was also partly due to the awaking of political engagement of young indigenous people in Canada during the Idle No More movement in 2013.

Sinclair said initially he wasn’t certain this would carry over into the provincial election, but now he thinks it will.

“The level of engagement of indigenous candidates has created a buzz,” he said.

There are currently seven indigenous candidates on the ballot for the Liberals, six for the NDP and five for the Conservatives. Not all the nominations are finished, and the NDP could add another candidate if Nahanni Fontaine wins the nomination in St. John’s.

Sinclair said the three main issues concerning First Nations voters in Manitoba all fall into provincial jurisdiction — resource development, the health and safety of indigenous women and child welfare.

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