A Very Hostile System in Which to Live: Aboriginal Electoral Participation in Winnipeg’s Inner City

Manitoba Research Alliance on CED in the New Economy,

Author +
Jim Silver, Cyril Keeper and Michael MacKenzie

Year: 2005

This report attempts to determine whether Aboriginal people in Winnipeg’s inner city vote in mainstream elections, and if not, why not. It provides evidence to show that Aboriginal people constitute a very significant proportion of the population in particular federal, provincial and City of Winnipeg electoral districts, and thus have potential electoral strength. The report cites four broad categories to account for the relatively low voter turnout among Aboriginal people in mainstream elections. First, some Aboriginal people choose not to vote because they see themselves as part of distinctive nations. Second, many Aboriginal people, including many urban Aboriginal people, feel outside of, and not welcome in, the dominant culture and institutions of Canadian society. Third, the socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of Aboriginal people are, on average, consistent with those of non-voters generally. And fourth, political parties are not generally open to Aboriginal peoples’ involvement, the literature argues, and parties and politicians do not make much effort to involve Aboriginal people. These factors appear to contribute to relatively low Aboriginal rates of voting in mainstream elections.

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