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HomePolicy Articles Article Summary

"A Very Hostile System in Which to Live": Aboriginal Electoral Participation in Winnipeg's Inner City

Report by Jim Silver, Cyril Keeper, Michael MacKenzie

Silver, Keeper and MacKenzie begin their report by pointing out that Aboriginal people are, on average, less likely than non-Aboriginal people to vote in mainstream (federal, provincial, and municipal) elections. In this paper, Silver, Keeper and MacKenzie try to determine whether Aboriginal people in Winnipeg’s inner city vote in mainstream elections; if not, then why not. They argue this is an important question because the Aboriginal population is growing, particularly in cities like Winnipeg.

From the literature on the subject, Silver, Keeper and MacKenzie conclude there are four broad explanations for the relatively low voter turnout among Aboriginal people in mainstream elections: the “nationalist” explanation; the historical and current experiences of Aboriginals in Canadian politics; the socio-economic and demographic characteristics of Aboriginals; and, the fact that political parties are not generally open to the involvement of Aboriginal Peoples.

In the next stage of their research, the authors interviewed Aboriginal people from Winnipeg. Their interview results, however, were not entirely consistent with the literature. Silver, Keeper and MacKenzie conclude that the social exclusion explanation is the most useful in explaining low voter turnout: many Aboriginal people feel excluded or marginalized from the system, and therefore do not vote. However, based on their interviews, the authors believe there will soon be an increase in voter turnout among Aboriginals in Winnipeg.

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Policy Publication Details

Author(s): Jim Silver; Cyril Keeper; Michael MacKenzie;
Publisher: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives [ Visit Website ]
Year Published: 2005; Publisher Type: Research Institute
Publicly Available: Yes Research Focus: Provincial;
Registration Required: No Language: English
Payment Required: No Publication Format: Adobe PDF

Subjects / Categories:

Policy Articles / Aboriginal / Governance
Policy Articles / Aboriginal / Governance / 2005
Policy Articles / Aboriginal


Keywords / Tags:

Aboriginal voter turnout; Winnipeg; mainstream elections; social exclusion of Aboriginals; socio-economic conditions; political parties ;