Alberta politicians call Manitoba premier-designate’s win historic: ‘This is huge’

Click to play video: 'Manitoba Election: Wab Kinew marks victory as first First Nations premier-designate'
Manitoba Election: Wab Kinew marks victory as first First Nations premier-designate
Manitoba NDP leader Wab Kinew took to the podium on Tuesday to accept his victory as premier-designate marking a historic moment as the province's first First Nations premier. Kinew addressed the roaring crowd saying "Tonight's votes show crystal clear that we can do anything when we stand together." – Oct 4, 2023

Wab Kinew has gained international attention after he won the Manitoba provincial election Tuesday night for the NDP, including from politicians in Alberta.

The victory will make the party leader the first First Nations provincial premier in Canadian history.

“This is huge,” said Edmonton city councillor Aaron Paquette, who is Métis and Cree.

“I think that young people are looking at this and seeing an entire world of possibility opening up. To see someone who looks like them on this national stage is inspiring.”

Click to play video: 'Historic Manitoba election of Wab Kninew inspires Indigenous Albertans'
Historic Manitoba election of Wab Kninew inspires Indigenous Albertans

He pointed out that Louis Riel, who is a founder of the province of Manitoba, was Métis.

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Paquette noted that while Manitoba had an Indigenous premier before, Kinew becomes the first First Nations premier in that province.

John Norquay, who was Métis, served as Manitoba’s premier in the late 1800s.

Click to play video: 'Edmonton elects first Indigenous councillor in decades'
Edmonton elects first Indigenous councillor in decades

Kinew said while electing a First Nations premier shows a step forward, the election was ultimately about health care.

“This is a job in which we give it our all,” he told reporters Wednesday morning, less than 12 hours after accepting his new post at the Manitoba legislature.

The incoming leader thanked the public as the New Democrats turn to fulfilling promises made on the campaign trail, including hiring more health-care staff, reopening emergency rooms and building a new cancer-care facility.

Paquette said Indigenous politicians can draw on cultural teachings.

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“As Indigenous people get more and more into politics, the fear was that: ‘Oh, because you’re Indigenous, you’re only going to focus on Indigenous issues or Indigenous people.’ Well, that’s not the way that the cultural teachings apply. You help everyone.”

Paquette said when you help society’s most vulnerable, you help society as a whole.

“A rising tide raises all boats,” he added.

“That cultural leaning means that Indigenous politicians who are stepping into it … we’re going to see, if they hold true to their cultural teachings, an increase in that desire to serve the common good — not to serve politics, but to serve the people.”

The city councillor also said he thinks Kinew’s position will inspire others.

“(He) has had some issues in the past, and these issues are directly related to a lot of the community issues that we see across Canada when it comes to Indigenous peoples, and we know that’s a result of colonization, of residential schools, of enforced poverty and starvation … those generational impacts, and he’s been very open about that.

“To see that someone can go through that and still have a positive impact and place in Canada is going to change things in a major, major way,” Paquette said.

Click to play video: 'Manitoba Election: Wab Kinew addresses province on promises, vision for future following win'
Manitoba Election: Wab Kinew addresses province on promises, vision for future following win

For Simone Desjarlais, a Grade 12 student with Braided Journeys at St. Francis Xavier Catholic High School, representation matters.

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“Many youth are able to look up to this guy, especially if they want to be in politics,” she said. “If I wanted to go down that route, I have somebody to look up to.

“It was kind of an emotional moment for almost all Indigenous people, if not all of us,” Desjarlais said. “That’s really empowering.”

She said her uncle is a chief and having Indigenous people in positions of leadership is important.

“We want to share our ways and our knowledge of life, especially in governing provinces.”

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith congratulated Kinew on his election win.

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“Alberta is dedicated to fostering a constructive working relationship with all Manitobans, contributing to the mutual success of our prairie provinces,” she said.

Alberta Opposition Leader Rachel Notley said Kinew’s history-making victory was “long overdue.”

“I want to congratulate the Manitoba NDP, and specifically Manitoba Premier-elect Wab Kinew, on a historic election victory,” she said.

“We’re so happy for our friend Wab to success last night and to become the first First Nations premier of one of the 10 provinces in the history of our country. That’s super exciting.

“I know he will serve with integrity, provide hope for so many and will also take necessary and critical action to rebuild public health care,” Notley said.

Click to play video: '‘Very proud’ Ontario First Nation watches Wab Kinew’s rise in Manitoba politics'
‘Very proud’ Ontario First Nation watches Wab Kinew’s rise in Manitoba politics

Paquette said Canada’s political landscape is changing.

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“The relationship between Indigenous people and Canada is an unequal relationship. What we’re seeing is more and more Indigenous people saying: ‘Wait a minute. Maybe I should be a part of the governments that are making choices for my life and my reality and my children’s lives.’

“In that way, there’s more of an equal partnership in how communities are developed.”

Click to play video: 'Louis Riel Cultural Festival taking place in Saskatoon'
Louis Riel Cultural Festival taking place in Saskatoon

–with files from Nicole Buffie, Global News

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