Treaty 3 campaign encouraging Indigenous people to vote in federal elections | Kenora Daily Miner

Lee Haily McLeod, from Animakee Wa Zhing 37 First Nation, sporting a “Treaty 3 Votes” t-shirt at Grand Council Treaty 3’s National Fall Assembly on Oct. 2.

Zahraa Hmood / Miner and News

Grand Council Treaty 3 has launched a non-partisan campaign encouraging First Nations people to make their voices heard in the 2019 federal election and vote.

Grand Chief Ogichidaa Francis Kavanaugh said that while progress has been made in the years since First Nations people were given the right to vote in 1960, his people have, historically, not participated in federal elections.

“There’s always an element of mistrust,” he said. “We’re so conditioned to think one way, and we’re having a harder time trying to get involved and participate in these elections.”

61.5 per cent of Indigenous people in Canada voted in the 2015 elections compared to 68.3 per cent of the overall population. According to data gathered by Grand Council Treaty 3, voter turnout in the treaty increased by nearly 83 per cent from 2011 to 2015, which Kavanaugh credits to the nation-wide Indigenous Rock the Vote campaign from 2015.

This year’s campaign, called Treaty 3 Votes, aims to provide Treaty 3 citizens with information on how to vote, educate them on the importance of voting and encourage them to register and vote.

Caption: This promotional video features testimonials from Treaty 3 citizens on the importance of voting.

“For me, whoever forms the next government has to be my treaty partner in addressing some of the matters that I need to address on a daily basis,” Kavanaugh said.

Their website includes ways to combat the traditional barriers First Nations people face in election participation. According to research done by Treaty 3, presenting proper proof of identity was a significant barrier to a higher voter turnout in 2015. The website links to voting and ID information available in more than a dozen Indigenous languages, which detail the various IDs voters can bring to prove their identity at the polls.

Chief Lorraine Cobiness of Niisaachewan Anishinaabe Nation said her nation is providing information on voting through their website, spreading the word on social media and will host a feast on Oct. 21 to celebrate election day and bring the community together.

“I am definitely excited to cast my vote,” she said. “I’m going to choose my treaty partner, who I think is best going to help us at the end of the day.”

zhmood@postmedia.com

This content was originally published here.

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