Ten Indigenous candidates were elected to the House of Commons Monday, one fewer than the 2015 election where a record 11 Indigenous MPs were elected.
But Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde said they will add strong voices to Parliament.
“We have to get our people in all parties,” he told CBC News.
“We have to get them into the House of Commons, get them around cabinet, get them onto the Supreme Court of Canada, get them onto boards of directors, boards of governors, We have to do that in order to bring about policy and legislative change.”
Bellegarde said while he feels the current Liberal government has done much for First Nations, there’s still a lot of work to be done.
“Progress doesn’t mean parity,” he said.
“We have to keep investing in education, housing, and water, infrastructure and find ways to move beyond the Indian Act, find ways to implement the UN Declaration. When the gap closes between the quality of life of First Nations people and everybody else, it’s not only good for our people, it’s good for Canada.”
Four First Nations, four Métis and two Inuit candidates were elected.
Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the national Inuit advocacy organization, said in a statement issued Tuesday that it looks forward to continuing to work with the Liberal government to advance Inuit-Crown priorities through the Inuit-Crown Partnership Committee.
“The Liberal government has taken positive steps to reduce social and economic inequities among Inuit. However significant work remains in transforming the spirit of reconciliation into sustained and transformative policy actions that help close the longstanding service and policy gaps that negatively and disproportionately impact Inuit,” said the statement.
“To advance this goal, ITK looks forward to working in partnership with the federal government on implementing the Arctic and Northern Policy Framework.”
The Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) also congratulated the Liberal Party on its win.
“We look forward to working side by side, once again, with the Liberals in advancing the interests of the Métis Nation,” said MMF President David Chartrand in a statement.
“The federal Liberal government has demonstrated that nurturing a distinctions-based, nation-to-nation, government-to-government relationship is the road to success,”
2 new NDP MPs
The full adoption and implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is something NDP candidate Leah Gazan said she will push for following her win in Winnipeg Centre. She said having the declaration legislated will address inequalities Indigenous peoples face when it comes to housing, clean drinking water, and child welfare.
“I’m going to push hard in government to have these human rights recognized,” said Gazan, who is from the Wood Mountain Lakota Nation.
“The current government is in its eighth non-compliance order to stop racially discriminating against First Nations kids on-reserve. They continue to fail to honour the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling. This is appalling.”
Liberal incumbent Robert Falcon-Ouellette lost his seat by 1,687 votes to Gazan. The New Democrats had the most Indigenous candidates running in this election, but only Gazan and Mumilaaq Qaqqaq in Nunavut won seats.
Qaqqaq took 41.2 per cent of the vote in Nunavut, defeating former Conservative MP Leona Aglukkaq and Liberal candidate Megan Pizzo Lyall. The 25-year-old Inuk said in a video posted to Facebook that she’s excited to head to Ottawa.
“I have no words,” she said. “I look forward to the next four years, The federal government needs to step up and needs to start doing things that they should have been doing here for the last few decades.”
Incumbent NDP MP Georgina Jolibois, who is Dene, lost her seat in Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River in Saskatchewan to Conservative Gary Vidal, and incumbent NDP MP Romeo Saganash, who is Cree, did not seek re-election in Abitibi-Baie-James–Nunavik-Eeyou.
Liberal incumbents re-elected
The majority of Indigenous candidates elected Monday were Liberal incumbents. Vance Badawey (Métis) in Niagara Centre, Yvonne Jones (Inuk) in Labrador, Michael McLeod (Métis) in Northwest Territories, Dan Vandal (Métis) in Saint Boniface-Saint Vital, and Marc Serré in Nickel Belt were all re-elected.
Serré, who received 39 per cent of votes in his Ontario riding, was co-chair of the Liberal Indigenous caucus with Falcon-Ouellette and is a member of the Mattawa/North Bay Algonquin First Nation. Earlier this month, Halifax academic Darryl Leroux. questioned Serre’s Indigenous identity.
Liberal candidate Jaime Battiste won a tight race in the Sydney-Victoria riding in Nova Scotia. Battiste, who is a member of the Eskasoni First Nation, is the first-ever Mi’kmaw MP.
Marc Dalton, who is Métis, was the sole Indigenous candidate for the Conservatives to win his seat. He received 36.3 per cent of the votes against the Liberal incumbent in Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge, B.C.
Former Liberal justice minister and Attorney General of Canada Jody Wilson-Raybould ran as an Independent and kept her seat in Vancouver-Granville.
None of the Indigenous candidates for the Green Party were elected.