Jody Wilson-Raybould, former regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations, won handily in her voting district in Vancouver, one of 10 indigenous candidates who gained office in Canada’s national election on October 19.
“I feel fantastic,” Ms. Wilson-Raybould told The Globe and Mail after getting 44 percent of the vote. “It was a great night for the Liberal party and it was a great night for Canadians who decided they wanted to be part of a change in this country and how it is run.”
An unprecedented number of aboriginal Members of Parliament (MPs) will join the Canadian House of Commons after a historic election that saw the defeat of longtime Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Justin Trudeau’s Liberals took the majority of seats across the country on Monday, October 19, while the Conservatives formed the official minority and the New Democratic Party trailed behind.
A record of 10 First Nations, Inuit and Metis MPs will be representing ridings across Canada for the Liberal and New Democratic parties—occupying three percent of the total 338 seats.
Robert-Falcon Ouellette was one of eight aboriginal Liberal MPs to win across the country when he unseated longtime NDP MP Pat Martin in the Winnipeg Centre riding. Ouellette said in his victory speech that the riding encompasses both rich and poor areas and that he hopes to unite people of all backgrounds.
“Tonight is only the beginning,” he said. “We have taken a first step on the journey together.”
Wilson-Raybould was elected in the newly created Vancouver Granville riding, which sits in the middle of the city. In Nunavut, the Liberal sweep unseated Canada’s first Inuk cabinet minister Leona Aglukkaq. Conservative Aglukkaq was defeated by Hunter Tootoo, who is also indigenous.
Along with Manitoba, British Columbia and Nunavut, the Liberals now have aboriginal representation in Ontario, the Northwest Territories and Labrador. The NDP has a total of two indigenous MPs in Quebec and Saskatchewan. A total of 54 aboriginal candidates ran across Canada, according to CBC News.
In the last federal election, in 2011, seven aboriginal MPs were voted in, which was also a record at the time. Wilson-Raybould and other indigenous leaders were ebullient over the new results.
“The UBCIC congratulates the ten indigenous MPs elected last night,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, in a statement on October 20. “Specifically, Jody Wilson-Raybould who as Regional Chief of the B.C. Assembly of First Nations won the respect of many with her strong resolve, and we look forward to working with her as a likely and essential member of Cabinet.”
“For me, this was the most important election in my lifetime,” Wilson-Raybould said in her victory speech, according to the Vancouver Sun. “This election became about who we are as Canadians, about what we want for our country. People wanted to start another, better path for our country where we can ensure that all voices are heard. I’m very proud to be an aboriginal person in this country and proud of the diversity that exists in Vancouver-Granville, and we need to ensure that diversity is reflected in the decisions, discussions and debates we have as a government.”