Nahanni Fontaine humbled after winning Manitoba NDP nomination in St. Johns

An emotional Nahanni Fontaine stepped up to the podium Saturday in front of a room of NDP supporters after winning the party nomination in the St. Johns constituency.

Fontaine has worked as special advisor on aboriginal women's issues for Manitoba government

Nahanni Fontaine tears up after winning the Manitoba NDP nomination in the St. Johns constituency Saturday. (CBC)
An emotional Nahanni Fontaine stepped up to the podium in front of a room of New Democrats Saturday after winning the party nomination in the St. Johns constituency.
Judy Wasylycia-Leis (left) and Gord Mackintosh (right) stand with Nahanni Fontaine Saturday after her NDP nomination win in St. Johns. (CBC)

"It's absolutely one of the most humbling experiences ... other than giving birth to my children," Fontaine said. "Utterly surreal."

On Jan. 29, Gord Mackintosh, the party's former representative for the Winnipeg constituency, announced he would not be seeking re-election. Fontaine announced her candidacy days later on Feb. 2.

NDP supporters filled the Royal Canadian Legion at 1748 Main St. Saturday for the nomination vote.

Fontaine beat Tyler Pearce, who works with the Canadian Mental Health Association, and Aaron McDowell, Winnipeg city Coun. Ross Eadie's assistant. Pearce finished in third place after the first round of ballots were counted, winnowing the field down to just Fontaine and McDowell.

Aaron McDowell (left) and Tyler Pearce lost out to Nahanni Fontaine in the bid to represent the Manitoba NDP in the St. Johns constituency Saturday. (CBC)

A second round of voting occurred and Fontaine came out on top. She thanked her supporters and said she is committed to winning the constituency and the election.

"I mean what I say when I say that leadership isn't about one person," Fontaine said. "This is about all of us and the work that we can accomplish together."

Fontaine said she is now taking a leave from her postion with the Manitoba government as special advisor on aboriginal women's issues. She is an advocate on the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.

An emotional Nahanni Fontaine stepped up to the podium in front of a room of New Democrats Saturday after winning the party nomination in the St. Johns constituency. 1:02

Fontaine said despite the fact that Mackintosh and the NDP are generally well-liked in the constituency, she won't take the opportunity for granted.

"My commitment is that I am going to work 150 per cent as I do with every issue I work on," Fontaine said. "St. Johns NDP will defeat the Liberals and the Tories."

Fontaine told the crowd of supporters her family was among the first wave of indigenous people to move from Sagkeeng First Nation to the North End in Winnipeg in the 1950s.

With the nomination in St. Johns, the New Democrats now have a full slate of 57 candidates, including 24 women, seven indigenous representatives and 10 visible minorities.


Follow CBC's Kaj Hasselriis on Twitter (@KajHasselriis) to see more tweets from the nomination event.


With files from CBC's Kaj Hasselriis

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