Some communities in Northern Saskatchewan are exercising their right to vote in Monday’s federal election, while others are not so motivated to hit the polls.
“Indigenous people are the majority in this constituency,” said Modeste McKenzie, president of the Indigenous New Democrats of Saskatchewan and Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River NDP.
“Whichever candidate or whichever party manages to get their voters to the polls more importantly will be the winner.”
McKenzie is based out of La Ronge and does most of his work within the town as well as Air Ronge Village and Lac La Ronge Indian Band. He has also volunteered to drive voters to the polls to ensure their voice is heard; his time has gone to people in communities in and around La Ronge.
McKenzie has been advocating and encouraging community members to vote and participate in the election.
“I’ve done a lot of door knocking in La Ronge in this election, and especially on reserve we have quite a bit of support which I think you would find surprising considering,” said McKenzie.
Community members still face difficulty reaching the polls. Some communities are also coping with numerous deaths, McKenzie said this has affected advance polls. Others do not wish to give the effort to vote.
Lorraine Noltcho, band member of Buffalo River First Nation, has not voted.
“I just don’t like to deal with politics,” said Noltcho, who lives 382 kilometres northwest of La Ronge in Dillon.
FSIN second Vice-Chief David Pratt said it is important for Indigenous people to exercise their right to vote and social media is showing that a lot are doing just that. He also notes the government that gets in determines the priorities, and from his experience with previous government there is a lot of uncertainty.
“I just think it’s important,” said Pratt, “First Nations need to get out there and exercise their right to vote, and let their voices be heard.
“No matter what government is elected, we’ll do our best to work with them and move our issues forward collectively.”