Northwestern Ontario First Nations run out of ballots
Reported higher-than-average turnouts at a number of First Nation community polls
Election officials working in at least two First Nations communities in northwestern Ontario had to order more ballots, as people watching the First Nation voter turnout said many polls were much busier than usual this year.
The electoral officer in Shoal Lake 40 First Nation told CBC News the community ran out of ballots for about an hour in the afternoon.
Similarly, in Onigaming First Nation, Chief Katherine Kishiqueb said late Monday afternoon, it became apparent to electoral staff that more ballots would be needed.
"The electoral officers and the people there at the polling station had realized we were going to be running out of [ballots]," she said. "I think we were down to the last 10 ... and we knew that there was still quite a few people to go yet."
Kishiqueb said additional ballots were quickly delivered.
The polling station seemed much busier than during the 2011 election, Kishiqueb said, adding that she believes more than twice the number of people in her community cast ballots this year.
"They wanted to be part of an opportunity to vote for who they felt would be the best candidate in our riding," she said.
Ballot shortages and reported higher turnouts showed that Indigenous voters were motivated this year, said Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day.
"Clearly First Nation voters woke up," he said.
"First Nation individuals that previously didn't vote are now voting and I think the other thing to recognize is that the communities became mobilized."
That mobilization included a host of volunteers in a number of communities with the Rock the Vote campaign, that helped register First Nations voters.
Dalles First Nation councillor Tania Cameron organized the campaign and said she can't believe the turnouts she's hearing about in a number of communities. She pointed specifically to Pikangikum, a community with notoriously low voter participation.
"Last federal election, they had 75 votes," she said. "Tonight, they're reporting 300-plus. I'm so happy."
Volunteers with Rock the Vote were at the polls in a number of First Nations on election day, helping voters with things like proper identification and interpreting.
In Onigaming, Kishiqueb said the volunteers were a "major contributing factor," in getting the word out about voting.
Community leadership also played a bigger role in the lead-up to this year's election promoting the vote, as well as helping at the ballot box, than in years past, she added.