The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) is urging First Nations people to vote in the federal election, including in a battleground northern Saskatchewan riding.
Chief Bobby Cameron is among those casting ballots in Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River, which in eight general elections has been won three times by the Conservatives, three times by the Liberals and twice by the NDP.
In the 2011 census, 70.6 per cent of people in the 588,239-square-kilometre riding identified as Indigenous.
“We matter and we will make a difference,” Cameron said.
In the past, Cameron said, many Indigenous voters felt the federal government didn’t represent them, which made for lower turnout and made the results “closer than it needed to be.”
He said he believes Indigenous turnout in 2019 will beat the record showing in 2015 — a year in which the NDP’s Georgina Jolibois defeated Liberal candidate Lawrence Joseph by 82 votes.
Jolibois, Gary Vidal of the Conservatives and Tammy Cook-Searson of the Liberals have all met with the FSIN’s chiefs in the months before the election. Sarah Kraynick is also running for the Green Party and Jerome Perrault for the People’s Party of Canada.
The chief said transportation has been arranged in numerous First Nations communities for those planning to vote Monday.
Cameron said he is casting his ballot with inherent and treaty rights top of mind, including in education, health, child welfare, justice and economic development.
The riding’s median income of $18,910 is the second-lowest in Canada, and Cameron said affordable, long-lasting housing is a significant election issue.
He also said the next federal government should do more to help First Nations communities benefit from resource extraction, particularly in uranium mines.
“All of our First Nations are not full partners with the mines,” Cameron said.
Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River covers the entire northern half of Saskatchewan, extending from Lloydminster or Prince Albert to the Northwest Territories.