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It's complicated: Indigenous people and voting

Indigenous people have a bumpy voting history in Canada. Laws allowing the vote for status Indians and Inuit used to be complicated and inconsistent.
Winnipeg Indigenous Rock the Vote, a non-partisan group, rally at Winnipeg city hall to encourage indigenous people to cast their ballots. (Ryan Cheale/CBC)

Indigenous people have a bumpy voting history in Canada.

Laws allowing the vote for status Indians and Inuit used to be complicated and inconsistent. Culturally speaking, the "majority rules" concept was contrary to many nations rooted in consensus or matrilineal ways of choosing leadership.

Even after we were allowed the vote in 1960, poll turn-out has always been low. But that is changing, as more indigenous people become politically aware and involved.

Where better to ask about the indigenous vote than on a First Nation?

Rosanna Deerchild met Elder Stella Bear (left) on Brokenhead Ojibway Nation, Manitoba. Stella says she will be voting in the federal election in October. (Kim Wheeler/CBC)
Rosanna Deerchild heads to Brokenhead Ojibway Nation, Manitoba — on Treaty 1 territory — to ask people where they stand on the election line. 

The debate continues across the country. A national leader says voting is an opportunity for change while a well-known activist and lawyer says real change comes from sovereignty. 

And then there's Sylvia Boudreau, an urban grassroots volunteer who wants to get people to the polls. She's never voted in a federal election in her life. Now she's one of the lead organizers of a movement in Winnipeg called Indigenous Rock the Vote!

To listen to Sylvia Boudreau in conversation with Rosanna Deerchild, click the audio link above or click here.

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