Voters in Duplessis elect 1st Innu to sit in Quebec National Assembly

The Parti Québécois stronghold on Quebec's North Shore has elected Coalition Avenir Québec's Kateri Champagne Jourdain, who becomes the first Innu and the first Indigenous woman to hold provincial office.

PQ stronghold elects CAQ's Kateri Champagne Jourdain, 1st Indigenous woman to become MNA

Kateri Champagne Jourdain speaks to reporters following her victory.
Kateri Champagne Jourdain, the first elected Innu MNA, speaks to reporters following her victory in the Quebec North Shore riding of Duplessis Monday night. (Marc-Antoine Mageau/Radio-Canada)

Kateri Champagne Jourdain has become the first Innu — and the first Indigenous woman — to be elected to the National Assembly. The Coalition Avenir Québec candidate wrested the riding of Duplessis from the Parti Québécois after 40 years of PQ rule.

Originally from the community of Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam, next to Sept-Îles on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, Champagne Jourdain won handily with 45 per cent of the vote — a 3,300-vote margin over the PQ's Marilou Vanier.

"Here in Duplessis, we made history in the riding, but we also made history in Quebec," Champagne Jourdain said. "I am very proud."

The only other Indigenous person to hold provincial office in Quebec since 1969 was Alexis Wawanoloath, an Abenaki lawyer elected PQ MNA in the riding of Abitibi-Est in 2007.

Champagne Jourdain said she plans to rely on her culture to help her work with Indigenous communities in the development of "major projects."

"I carry the Innu culture within me, and I am bringing it with me to Quebec City. It will follow me throughout my term," she said in an interview after her victory.

Ghislain Picard, the regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations for Quebec and Labrador, reached out to her on Twitter soon after her victory was declared.

"I would like to send my congratulations to Kateri Champagne Jourdain, elected Innu in Duplessis," Picard tweeted.

Champagne Jourdain succeeds the PQ's Lorraine Richard. Richard, first elected in 2003, retired from political life for health reasons.

Aside from the PQ's Vanier, Champagne Jourdain ran against the Liberals' Chamroeun Khuon, Québec Solidaire's Uapukun Mestokosho and the Conservative Party of Quebec's Roberto Stéa.

In 2018, the voter turnout in the riding stood at 55.81 per cent.

with files from Radio-Canada