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First Nations voters ‘mean business’ in northern Sask.: chief

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WATCH ABOVE: Northern Sask. expected to see a close race – Oct 21, 2019

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.

READ MORE: Northern Saskatchewan riding up for grabs as federal election nears

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.”

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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.

“It shouldn’t be a close race [in 2019]. It should be a race that shows our First Nations people do mean business,” said Cameron, who stated the FSIN doesn’t endorse candidates.
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U of S political scientist Greg Poelzer with predictions ahead of polls closing – Oct 21, 2019

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.

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The chief said transportation has been arranged in numerous First Nations communities for those planning to vote Monday.

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Northern Saskatchewan up for grabs in federal election – Oct 3, 2019

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.

READ MORE: Canada election results — Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River

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.

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Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River covers the entire northern half of Saskatchewan, extending from Lloydminster or Prince Albert to the Northwest Territories.