Campaign encourages newcomers to make their voices heard in upcoming civic election
Important for immigrants to have their say on who will represent them: organizer
A new campaign launched by immigration advocates is aimed at getting more newcomers to the polls during this fall's civic elections.
The public awareness campaign, titled "Got Citizenship? Go Vote!", is being spearheaded by Immigration Partnership Winnipeg (IPW) in partnership with leaders in Winnipeg's ethnocultural community.
The campaign includes posters, videos, a website and other social media with information translated into 12 languages.
IPW director Abdikheir Ahmed says that while his organization hasn't collected any data on the issue, they know anecdotally that many newcomers don't vote.
That's partly because many of them don't become citizens for several years after they land in Canada, so they often feel disconnected from the civic process, he says.
"If you've lived in this country for seven years and you've never participated in the civic process, of what use is it to you if you've lived in Canada and you've never voted and you've felt its never affected your life?" he said.
This is very, very exciting for us, because now you feel like you are building this country and doing a lot of activity with our community.- Nour Ali, first-time voter
IPW feels it's crucial to get those numbers up so that newcomers have a say in who represents them — especially given Winnipeg's large immigrant population, he says.
According to the 2016 census, about one in four people in Winnipeg's census metropolitan area identified as immigrants.
"Newcomers access city services, they participate in the social life of this city, they pay taxes, so it's important that they have a voice on who's making decisions for them at the municipal level and at the school trustee level," he said.
IPW kicked off the campaign Tuesday at an event at the offices of Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba.
Nour Ali was at the event to find out more.
Born in Syria, Ali arrived in Canada in 2012.
He says he's very excited to vote for the first time as a Canadian after gaining his citizenship about three months ago.
"This is very, very exciting for us, because now you feel like you are building this country and doing a lot of activity with our community," he said.
"Already you see yourself being part of making decisions, so we feel very very good. I cannot explain."
Campaign organizers also plan to host a mayoral forum on immigrant and refugee issues on Sept. 22.
The municipal election takes place Oct. 24.
With files from Radio Canada