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June 27th, 2022

Indigenous peoples should be able to vote in their language

OTTAWA – Last week, NDP critic for Indigenous Services Lori Idlout tabled her private member's bill, C-297, which would change the Canada Elections Act to make voting more accessible to people living in Inuit, First Nations or Métis communities. Her proposal would add Indigenous languages to Elections Canada ballots in Indigenous territories, ensuring that everyone’s right to make their voices heard during elections is protected.

“For Inuit, First Nations or Métis, being able to vote with a ballot that includes local Indigenous languages can be the difference between deciding whether or not to go to the polling station,” said Idlout. “In the last election, people in Nunavut had to ask me to describe where my name was on the ballot to vote because there was no Inuktitut translation. This isn't fair to Indigenous people who deserve to select their leaders.”

Removing barriers to voting for more people helps build a stronger democracy where everyone's voices are heard. Idlout's bill requires electoral districts that are on Indigenous lands to prepare and print all ballots in both official languages as well as in the Indigenous language or languages of the elector. This change would help make voting for Inuit, First Nations and Métis more accessible and contribute towards Indigenous language revitalizations.

“The process of voting should be the same for everyone in Canada. This includes making it as easy as possible for people to know who they are voting for. Many elders in Nunavut cannot read English or French, their voices should not be left out from voting for the change they want to see in this country,” said Idlout. “New Democrats will always fight for meaningful reconciliation and make changes that increase Indigenous participation in Canadian democracy.”

Former NDP MP for Nunavut, Mumilaaq Qaqqaq had proposed a similar bill in the previous Parliament to make voting fairer for Indigenous peoples. Idlout says it's important to carry this important work forward.