ELECTION 2016: Sask. indigenous feel forgotten on campaign trails

By Lasia Kretzel
April 2, 2016 - 3:15pm

Saskatchewan indigenous groups say First Nations issues have been conspicuously absent during the the provincial party campaigns.

"I'm pretty disappointed. It seems like indigenous issues in Saskatchewan have been completely forgotten about," Aboriginal Affairs Coalition of Saskatchewan (ACCS) president Kim Beaudin said.

Over the course of the past month, talk of the economy, government spending, budgets, education and health have dominated party talking points and debates, but Beaudin said what little mention there is of indigenous issues in platforms has not made it into the public discourse.

"When you hear slogans like 'the new Saskatchewan' and 'keep Saskatchewan strong,' I'd like to know when we're going to hear 'keep Saskatchewan strong and inclusive.'"

He said First Nations may have been left out of the provincial election for a number of reasons including both lack of party and public interest and lack of solutions.

Beaudin said he would like for First Nations communities to be involved in positive discussions about the economy and justice system rather than just on matters of discrimination and practices such as carding. He suggested politicians use their connections with businesses to create tax incentives to hire First Nations workers.

The lack of talk about First Nations issues comes in stark contrast to the federal election, which saw record turn out of First Nations voters for such issues as an inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women and distrust of the Conservative Party.

"During the federal election there were certainly passionate issues, and that's why there was such a huge interest in that," Beaudin said.

The ACCS  primarily focuses on non-status, off reserve First Nations, many of whom are in urban areas. Beaudin said in contrast with their rural or on-reserve counterparts, many urban First Nations individuals don't have a chief or council constantly advocating on their behalf.

That's why groups such as the Saskatoon Tribal Council launched campaigns to encourage their members to vote. The campaign included information on how to register, what identification to bring and where to vote.

With files from News Talk's David Kirton

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On Twitter: @lkretzel

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