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'Make a difference': The new initiatives encouraging Indigenous Manitobans to vote

A "Rock the Vote" campaign is underway ahead of the provincial election to encourage more Indigenous voters to exercise their democratic rights.

The campaign includes initiatives, such as new ID options, which will break down barriers to the voting process.

Standing on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislature, Barb Guimond said she's never voted.

"I felt we're not heard anyway,” she said.

But now she wants to be heard and is planning to vote on Oct. 3 for the first time.

"Look what's happening in our First Nations communities, the MMIW, the drugs, and the crisis. We're all up against a brick wall and no support,” Guimond said.

Now, there are new initiatives to help get more Indigenous people to cast a ballot.

Elections Manitoba has partnered with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) to knock over a hurdle some First Nations people face -- identification.

"We don’t want to discourage them from coming forth and then they’re being asked for two pieces of ID and sometimes they just don't have identification,” said AMC Grand Chief Cathy Merrick.

A new First Nation guarantor of proof form is now available.

An individual can fill in their name on the form, and a chief, band councillor, or band membership clerk can verify their identity,

“They can say this is you. You belong to this band and it will serve as one piece of ID, which we think will help,” said Shipra Verma, chief electoral officer of Manitoba.

Elections Manitoba has also been setting up pop-up booths since August to help register voters.

Alex Hart from Pukatawagan is voting for the first time after facing barriers in the past.

"I lived in the reserve all my life. We don’t have these kinds of information,” he said.

As part of these measures is a Rock the Vote campaign and rally to encourage voting. It took shape in previous elections as a grassroots movement.

“I want to empower all First Nations people to come together and stand united and assert our Indigenous sovereignty,” said Kristin Flattery, the Rock the Vote organizer.

Guimond believes all of this can help topple walls that are blocking Indigenous voters from the booth.

“First Nations people, if we all vote then we can make a difference,” she said.

Following the rally on Thursday, the AMC also planned a candidates’ forum at the Convention Centre on First Nation issues. Top Stories

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