Some Manitoba voters are rallying for a change in government that will support Indigenous people’s rights.
“The current government isn’t really paying attention to the issues on reserves,” said Thomas Beever, 26, a resident of the Winnipeg Centre riding. “The living conditions are terrible and access to healthcare isn’t always an option.”
With the federal election coming up on Oct. 19, at a cost estimated at $500 million, party leaders are pushing hard for their platforms, but not all address First Nations’ issues.
The current Conservative government, under the leadership of Stephen Harper, has yet to release its First Nations platform. Alternatively, the Liberal party has been running on a platform that include investments toward education for Aboriginal people and the NDP party has stated if elected they will launch a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada.
For Pearl Bainbridge, a resident of the Selkirk-Interlake riding, access to healthy food options is another concern that needs to be addressed in the election.
“The cost of food up north is unreasonable,” said Bainbridge. “We have Canada’s Food Guide, but if they can’t make it available to everyone then why are they promoting it?”
It’s been four years since the prime minister was re-elected and in this time concerns have been raised over the Conservative government’s care for Indigenous people. Last year Harper went on record to say an inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women was not “high on [their] radar.”
“I think a lot of times there’s resentment from the populations living on reserves,” said Beever. “There’s an idea that we the white people came and took over their land without helping them. Sadly, this is true.”
In more recent events, a Winnipeg Water Walk took place Sept. 12 in support of clean water access for Shoal Lake 40 First Nation. The reserve has been on a boil water advisory for almost two decades due to an aqueduct that was built to provide Winnipeg with clean water.
“These are basic human rights they don’t have access to,” said Bainbridge. “It’s embarrassing.”
Both Beever and Bainbridge say they don’t know whom they are voting for, but it will be a toss up between the Liberals or the NDPs.
In the case where no party can reach a majority government, parties may decide to work together to form a coalition government. In an interview with Peter Mansbridge, NDP leader Tom Mulcair said he is not opposed to forming a coalition government with Liberal leader Justin Trudeau.
The current standings in Parliament are the Conservatives with 159 seats, the NDP with 94 seats, the Liberals with 36 seats, Independents have 7 seats, Green Party has 3 seats, Bloc Quebecois have 2 seats, and 4 seats are vacant.
Cover photo of Peace Days Medicine Walk by Nolan Bicknell
This is one in a series of federal election campaign stories completed by Journalism Major students in Red River College’s Creative Communications program. Click here to read more of their articles.