First Nations voters have chance to swing election results

7 09 2015

Cheryl Maloney urging all Canadians to get out an vote in the upcoming federal election

CBC News Posted: Sep 07, 2015 8:55 AM AT Last Updated: Sep 07, 2015 8:55 AM AT

Cheryl Maloney, president of the Nova Scotia Native Women's association, is leading an initiative here in Nova Scotia that she calls Mi'kma'ki Rock the Vote.

Cheryl Maloney, president of the Nova Scotia Native Women’s association, is leading an initiative here in Nova Scotia that she calls Mi’kma’ki Rock the Vote. (CBC)

Mi’kma’ki Rock The Vote9:06

A woman involved in First Nations politics in Nova Scotia is leading a new campaign to encourage more Mi’kmaq people to vote in the federal election.

Voter turnout in the First Nations population was about 44 per cent in the last election, much lower than in the population as a whole.

Fifty-one ridings across Canada have been identified by the Assembly of First Nations as potential swing ridings where, according to AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde, the outcome could be determined by the turnout of aboriginal voters. Or, more importantly, the turnout could determine whether a minority or majority government is elected.

Cheryl Maloney, president of the Nova Scotia Native Women’s association, is leading an initiative here in Nova Scotia that she calls Mi’kma’ki Rock the Vote.

“There’s been — over the last 10 years but particularly in the last term — the Harper government has created a lot of legislation that really impacts aboriginal rights and our day to day living,” Maloney told CBC’s Information morning.

“It really launched a movement in this country that made First Nations aware of how much the impact of this legislation has on us and how little a voice we First Nations — but also we as Canadians — have with this current government. It’s really a movement to get all Canadians participating.”

‘We can have an impact’

Native leaders across the country are trying to mobilize voters, in the hopes they can make a difference.

Maloney said in local aboriginal elections, many First Nations have turnouts of 90 per cent.

“So if we can convince those people that participate in their local elections to come out to the federal and provincial elections, then we can have an impact,” said Maloney.

Maloney said in a close election such as this one, as well as in any democracy, voting is extremely important. She stresses it’s important for all Canadians to cast their vote. Maloney said her group wants people to, first, register to vote — and then make sure they vote.

“All the lakes and rivers in this country are no longer protected and if that isn’t enough reason, you there’s freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, Bill C-51— the list is endless,” she said.

The federal election takes place Oct. 19.

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