Manitoba

Derek Nepinak surprised National Chief Perry Bellegarde didn't vote

Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Derek Nepinak said he was surprised a national aboriginal leader has admitted to not voting in the last federal election.

Some Manitobans unimpressed with Bellegarde’s decision not to vote in last federal election

Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Derek Nepinak said he was surprised a national aboriginal leader has admitted to not voting in the last federal election. 1:56

Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Grand Chief Derek Nepinak said he's surprised a national aboriginal leader has admitted to not voting in the last federal election.

On Thursday, National Chief Perry Bellegarde, with the Assembly of First Nations, urged aboriginal people to vote in the next federal election. But shortly after, he admitted he hadn't voted himself in the past federal election and wasn't clear about whether or not he would vote in October's election.

"I would never ask anyone to vote if I wasn't prepared to do it myself," said Nepinak. "That is just a principal of leadership that I choose to follow, so I was quite surprised that he chose a different response."

Some indigenous voters in Winnipeg weren't impressed.

"Is he the proper leader for us?" asked Mel Henderson, who plans to vote in the upcoming election. "It's like leading us to war and backing out at the last second, like, 'I don't want to fight. You guys go right ahead.'"

As of Sept. 2, 49 indigenous candidates were registered, including five in Manitoba, and the Assembly of First Nations has identified 51 ridings where the indigenous vote could change things. Six of those are in Manitoba.

Bellegarde vented his frustration with the Harper government on Thursday.

"What are we happy with in the past five years? Obviously I am hard pressed to say something we are happy with," he said.

The comments come on the heels of the new Mrs. Universe, Ashley Callingbull-Burnham, speaking out against the Harper government this week.

"This government was created to work against us, not for us," she said. "There are so many issues for First Nations people. We are always put on the back burner."

Canadians head to the polls on Oct. 19. 

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