A call for aboriginals to vote in federal election

Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo riding includes the small Chu Chua reserve in the North Thompson Valley

By Cam Fortems

Kamloops This Week

A leader in a North Thompson First Nations community agrees with a call by a national group calling for aboriginal Canadians to vote in the October federal election.

The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples is urging the nation’s 1.4-million aboriginal people to vote on Oct. 19.

The Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo riding includes the small Chu Chua reserve in the North Thompson Valley. Former chief Nathan Matthew said there have been efforts in past to get out the vote.

“If we voted as a block, that could make a difference,” the former band chief and educator told KTW.

NDP candidate Bill Sundhu said while voter participation among aboriginal people has not traditionally been high, all the parties in the riding “are keenly interested in getting aboriginal persons to vote.”

Sundhu noted former veteran New Democrat MP Nelson Riis was successful in getting First Nations votes in this riding. Since the development of the Sun Rivers subdivision in the late 1990s, it is difficult to determine the participation rate of voters from Tk’emlups Indian Band reserve.

At one time, polls on reserve were exclusively utilized by band members.

Matthew said Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have consistently blocked efforts to recognize rights and title and self-government, something he will tell incumbent MP Cathy McLeod if she visits the community.

“I’d say, ‘What have you done for First Nations lately?’ I can tell you, not a heck of a lot,” Matthew said.