Historic First: Canadian Province Elects First Nations Premier

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Wab Kinew’s New Democratic Party secures majority in Manitoba’s legislature, ousting Progressive Conservatives; he becomes premier, leading the new government.

In his Tuesday victory speech, Wab Kinew encouraged young Indigenous and diverse individuals facing challenges to transform their lives positively. (Photo: AP)

Wab Kinew’s historic election as Manitoba’s premier marked a significant milestone in Canadian politics. For the first time in Canada’s history, a First Nations member was chosen to lead one of its provinces. Kinew, a member of the New Democratic Party, secured a majority of seats in Manitoba’s legislature during Tuesday’s election, displacing the Progressive Conservatives from power.

At a news conference following his victory, Kinew expressed his pride in Manitobans’ decision to reject divisive messaging and embrace his party’s message of unity. Raised on the Onigaming First Nation in northwestern Ontario, Kinew’s journey to leadership has personal significance, as his late father was denied the right to vote under Canadian law during his youth.

During his victory speech, Kinew delivered a message of empowerment, emphasizing personal responsibility in overcoming challenges. He acknowledged that while the government can provide opportunities, individuals must take the initiative to create positive change in their lives.

Kinew’s diverse background includes experiences as a rapper, broadcaster, university administrator, and advocate for Indigenous inclusion. His commitment to the role of premier is evident, as he expressed reverence and humility for the challenges ahead.

Historically, John Norquay was the first Indigenous person to serve as premier in Manitoba in 1878, as he was M├ętis. However, the province’s history with First Nations people in elected office only dates back a few decades, with voting restrictions for Indigenous people in provincial and federal elections being lifted in the 1950s and ’60s.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau congratulated Kinew on this historic win, and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs welcomed the new chapter for First Nations in the province, expressing a desire for collaboration to address the needs of their member Nations.

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Toshika Chauhan

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