The 2015 Canadian election not only saw the ousting of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, but also introduced records among indigenous people in Canada, such as increase in voter turnout and record number of indigenous people elected into government. Along with a new prime minister who is making aboriginal affairs one of his top priorities, the presence of indigenous people in the Canadian government is added hope for change among the community.
The 2015 election saw a spike in aboriginal voters across Canada, due to non-partisan groups such as “Rock the Vote” and voter discontent about former Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Aboriginals living on reserves have a harder time voting because of strict rules surrounding voter ID and polling stations far from the reserve. This year, thanks to the efforts of determined aboriginals, like Tania Cameron, “Rock the Vote” groups were created across Canada to help aboriginals sort out ID/registration problems, and some even drove First Nations to the polls on October 19, 2015.
"Harper's intent was to suppress the indigenous vote and that motivated me. "It just caught on. I think the excitement of getting rid of the Harper government, showing Harper that his oppression tactics weren't going to work — I think that was a huge motivator for many people who decided to step up." – Tania Cameron, band councillor in Dalles First Nation, CBC News
Record number of Indigenous People
Thanks to the high turnout of voters and a population’s crave for change, this year’s election saw a record of 10 MPs elected into government – compared to only 3 in 2011. In total, 54 indigenous candidates ran for election with 18 in the Liberal party alone. Out of those 18 Liberal candidates, 8 won a seat in Parliament. The winning politicians represent almost all provinces across Canada with the exceptions of the Yukon, Alberta, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and P.E.I.
“The goal of this campaign was to see your values reflected in Ottawa, to see your values reflected in our Parliament." – Robert-Falcon Ouellette, CBC News
Effects of Liberal Majority on Aboriginals
So, what does Justin Trudeau’s win mean for aboriginals across Canada? For starters, Trudeau has prioritized 3 big issues regarding aboriginals at the top of his list. Throughout his campaign, Trudeau has promised $2.6 billion to First Nations education (over 4 years), vowed to call an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls and finally, he promised to end boil-water advisories on First Nation reserves within 5 years, all while working cooperatively with First Nations communities. While it is unclear if Trudeau will keep his promise, one thing is certain – after years of discontent under the Conservative party, many First Nation chiefs welcome this new change and stronger governmental representation.