Three new indigenous deputies head to Ottawa

There are likely to be three new indigenous members of Parliament in the House of Commons following a federal election that had a record number of First Nations, Métis and Inuit candidates.

Blake Desjarlais, who is Métis, was leading Edmonton Griesbach, which has been in the hands of Conservative MP Kerry Diotte since the leadership was created in 2015. However, mail-in ballots were still being counted on Tuesday.

Adam Chambers, also mestizo, held the headquarters of Simcoe-North in Ontario for the Conservatives.

Lori Idlout kept Nunavut orange and will replace NDP MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, who decided not to run again.

Eight of at least 77 candidates were incumbents and all successfully held their seats, so if Desjarlais wins, there will be 11 indigenous deputies in the 338-seat parliament, one more than in the 2019 elections.

A candidate for a PhD in political science said Monday’s results can be seen as a victory for indigenous peoples, but there is still a gap between the number of candidates running compared to the number of candidates running for office.

“I am concerned that if they continue without (better) results, that (enthusiasm) will fade,” said Philip Charbonneau of Western University in London, Ontario.

Charbonneau said he was surprised Saskatchewan did not elect a single Indian MP when there were a dozen candidates.

Driving north of the Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River has one of the highest numbers of First Nations voters, says the Assembly of First Nations.

There were three indigenous candidates in the race, including the highly favored Buckley Belanger, who left his post as a member of the NDP in the Saskatchewan legislature to run for the Liberals, but the seat ultimately went to Conservative incumbent Gary Vidal.

Charbonneau said voter apathy and historically low voter turnout on the reservations may have played a role.

Three new indigenous MPs secure constituencies for the NDP and conservative parties. #CdnPoli # Elxn44

“Perhaps because no one seemed to really want (these elections), that also developed in the indigenous communities and they also decided not to appear at the polls again.”

This Canadian Press report was first published on September 21, 2021.

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