First Nations and Metis people could become force in next Federal election, says analyst

Assembly of First Nations national Chief Perry Bellegarde is calling on more First Nations people to vote in the next federal election.

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According to a long-time observer of Saskatchewan First Nations and Metis politics, aboriginal people in Saskatchewan could become a serious political force in this year’s federal election.

John Lagimodiere, editor of Eagle Feather News, has been watching coverage of this week’s Assembly of First Nations (AFN) meetings in Montreal.

At the meetings, AFN Chief Perry Bellegarde urged First Nations people to get out and vote.

Traditionally, First Nations and Metis people haven’t voted in federal elections. However, Lagimodiere thinks that’s changing.

“I think it’s a residual leftover from Idle No More,” he said. “A lot of what’s happening is happening on social media and people working the grassroots indigenous votes.”

Lagimodiere said First Nations and Metis issues, from residential schools to the ’60s scoop, have been front-page news for years now. He said that means people will become more mobilized.

“We’re kind of at a pivotal time in Canadian history when it comes to aboriginal issues,” he said. “If you look back in the last two years in the media, and just the overwhelming stories about missing and murdered aboriginal women, the last five or six years of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission touring the country, all of this history comes from somewhere.”

Lagimodiere thinks there is going to be more ‘traditional’ politicking when it comes to First Nations and Metis communities, including phone canvassing and offering rides to voters on election day.

“Now we have a young, engaged, educated, growing middle class that realizes in order to take their place, they’ve got to give their vote.”

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