Manitoba

More than a quarter of NDP MLAs are indigenous

The NDP's crushing defeat on Tuesday has led to a drastic reduction in the party's seats but it has also made for a significant increase in the percentage of NDP MLA's who are indigenous.
Newly elected NDP MLA for Fort Rouge Wab Kinew on election night April 19, 2016 (CBC)

The NDP's crushing defeat on Tuesday has led to a drastic reduction in the party's seats but it has also made for a significant increase in the percentage of NDP MLA's who are indigenous. 

Of the 14 NDP MLAs elected, four are indigenous, which is more than a quarter of caucus. 

"I think having more indigenous members of the opposition will inevitably bring forth issues that are important," said University of Manitoba assistant professor Niigaan Sinclair. 

Wab Kinew battled his way to a seat in Fort Rouge. Now elected, his focus is on the people who voted him in.

"I want to get back out into the Fort Rouge constituency and be active and keep building relationships with people,"said Kinew.

Kinew expects he and his fellow indigenous MLAs will play a role in setting the political agenda. 

"I think we all want to be a voice for economic fairness, social justice and for everybody in Manitoba. But because we come from the indigenous communities, those issues are near to our heart, so we will advocate strongly on those things," said Kinew.

Kinew will join Kevin Chief, Amanda Lathlin, and Nahanni Fontaine as members of the Opposition. 

Fontaine is delighted with the strength of indigenous representation in the NDP caucus.

"It's quite extraordinary - four indigenous - strong, strong candidates. It's something that I'm so amazed and so proud and so humbled by," said Fontaine. 

Sinclair says he's still waiting to see how the PC government will commit to indigenous issues. 

"I think this incoming government's got a very steep learning curve because there's pressing issues such as the murdered and missing indigenous women inquiry. There's the overwhelming amount of indigenous children in care, over-incarceration in jails,"said Sinclair. 

Sinclair says the PC government will have to abide with legislation passed by the NDP.

"Lets not forget that this provincial government is committed to having a minister responsible for reconciliation and having the 94 calls of action implemented within the provincial government. We have a minister that has committed to that, it's law," said Sinclair. 

He says he wouldn't be surprised to see someone like Kevin Chief get nominated as the next NDP leader. 

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