Several Indigenous leaders and community groups are concerned about the level of discourse taking place during the election campaign regarding some of their top issues.
Political parties have been touring the province making campaign promises but Ashley Norton said she hasn’t heard anything regarding progression after the release of the missing and murdered Indigenous women inquiry report.
“I feel very ignored and feeling like Indigenous women’s issues aren’t in the forefront,” the Saskatchewan Aboriginal Women’s Circle Corporation vice-president said.
According to 2016 census data, about 16 per cent of Saskatchewan’s population is of Indigenous background, and those numbers are expected to grow.
The economic clout of First Nations is also growing, with involvement in industries like resource development, tourism and manufacturing.
The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations wants to see its growing presence recognized.
“We expect full involvement and we expect full inclusion when they’re discussing First Nations issues or First Nations investment,” Chief Bobby Cameron told Global News.
Prior to the dissolution of the legislature, there were four seats held by MLAs with Indigenous backgrounds.
The NDP candidate for Saskatoon-Centre, Betty Nippi-Albright, is from the Kinistin Saulteaux First Nation.
Chief Greg Scott represents that community and said it’s positive to see a wide diversity of candidates.
“I’m very optimistic that this is just a step in the right direction, not only for First Nations people but for everybody of minority descent,” Scott said.
He added that racism still exists around the community and hopes it can be addressed more strongly with more First Nations people taking leadership roles.
Both the New Democrats and the Saskatchewan Party have several Indigenous candidates this year.
It leaves Norton with hope for the next generation of Indigenous political leaders to tackle issues on- and off-reserve.
“I think it’s promising that we have a lot of leaders in our community who are educated, who are professional. And we need to get our faces out there (and) our voices out there,” she said.