Your guide to Aboriginal politicians in provincial and territorial governments
Now here’s a quick overview of how many Aboriginal people are already sitting in provincial and territorial governments, as of December 2011.
Yukon Legislative Assembly
In the Yukon Territory, where 25% of people identify themselves as Aboriginal, just 3 of 18 Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA’s) are Aboriginal. They are:
The Yukon has no Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, Aboriginal Affairs Minister, or even legislative committees for Aboriginal people.
Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories
NWT operates under a so-called “consensus government,” which means NO political parties. Those who aren’t members of the executive council or caucus serve as an unofficial opposition.
In the Northwest Territories, where 50% of the population is Aboriginal, 9 of 19 MLA’s are Aboriginal. They are:
- Michael Nadli (Dene)
- Robert Mcleod (Gwich’in)
- Jackson Lafferty (Dene)
- Tom Beaulieu (Dene)
- Kevin Menicoche (Dene)
- Norman Yakeleya (Dene)
- Alfred Moses (?)
- Frederick Blake Jr. (Gwich’in)
The Premiere is Bob McLeod (Metis), who also serves as Minister of Aboriginal Affairs.
Legislative Assembly of Nunavut
In Nunavut, where 85% of the population is Aboriginal (almost all Inuit), 14 of 19 MLA’s are Aboriginal. They are:
- Hunter Tootoo (Inuit), Speaker of the Legislative Assembly
- Eva Aariak (Inuit), Premier & Minister for Aboriginal Affairs
- Peter Taptuna (Inuit)
- Tagak Curley (Inuit)
- Lorne Quasa Kusugak (Inuit)
- James Arreak (Inuit)
- John Ningark (Inuit)
- Louis Tapardjuk (Inuit)
- Johnny Ningeongan (Inuit)
- Moses Aupaluktuq (Inuit)
- Monica Ell (Inuit)
- Hezakiah Oshutapik (Inuit)
- Joe Enook (Inuit)
- Jeannie Ugyuk (Inuit)
That’s got to be a record of some kind!
Like the NWT, the government operates without political parties. There are no committees on Aboriginal Affairs but the territory does have a Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs.
Legislative Assembly of British Columbia
Despite 5% of the population being Aboriginal, none of the 85 MLA’s in British Columbia are Aboriginal (correct me if I’m wrong).
Legislative Assembly of Alberta
In Wild Rose Country, where almost 7% of the province’s 3.7 million people are Aboriginal, just 2 of 83 MLA’s are Aboriginal.
As you can see, ‘all’ two belong to the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta. In October 2011, the province’s Ministry of Aboriginal Relations was folded into the new Ministry of Intergovernmental, International and Aboriginal Relations, with Premier Alison Redford at the helm.
Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan
When the Saskatchewan Party (SP) swept to power in November 2011 (winning 49 of 58 seats), they brought with them 3 successful Aboriginal candidates, making the total of number of Aboriginal MLA’s in Saskatchewan 5.
- Buckley Belanger (Metis), NDP
- Jennifer Campeau (Saulteaux/Cree/Metis), SP
- Greg Lawrence (Metis), SP
- Roger Parent (Metis), SP
- Doyle Vermette (Metis), NDP
According to Statistics Canada, Saskatchewan is home to nearly 1-million Aboriginal people!
Legislative Assembly of Manitoba
Another province with a whole lot of Aboriginal people (almost 14% of the population). But of 57 seats in Manitoba, only 3 are held by Aboriginal MLA’s.
Robinson, a well-known politician in Manitoba, also serves as the Minister of Aboriginal and Northern Affairs (the second time he’s done so).
Legislative Assembly of Ontario
Ontario joins BC in having no elected Aboriginal officials (they’re called Members of Provincial Parliament (MPP) here) and therefore should stand in the corner for a bit.
They do have a Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. Sort of. In 2011, First Nation Chiefs in Ontario were angered to learn that Minister of Aboriginal Affairs Kathleen Wynne would only be performing those duties part-time.
The first Aboriginal MPP elected in Ontario was Peter John North (?), NDP, way back in 1990.
National Assembly of Quebec
Another province with a different title for elected officials (Member’s of the National Assembly (MNA) here), and one more without any elected Aboriginal officials. The first Aboriginal MNA was Ludger Bastien (Huron), elected in 1924.
Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick
In 2009, Thomas James “T.J.” Burke (Maliseet), LIB, became the first (and so far only) Aboriginal person elected to provincial office in NB.
Nova Scotia Legislature
From what I’ve seen, NS has never, nor does it currently have any Aboriginal MLA’s. I think I speak for all of us when I say, “you’ve got to get on that, man.”
They do however have an Office of Aboriginal Affairs and Darrel Dexter serves as the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs.
Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island
PEI should read what I wrote about Nova Scotia above, and then think long and hard about it.
House of Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador
In 1993, Wally Anderson (Innu), LIB, became the first Aboriginal MNA (Member of the House of Assembly) for Newfoundland and Labrador. He stepped down in 2007, amid allegations of fraud and breach of trust.
So there you have it. Of 753 elected provincial and territorial officials, only 41 are Aboriginal (just over 5%). And as with the other ‘Who’s Who’ posts, that’s either much browner than they thought, or altogether way too brown for their liking.
I have a strong feeling this list is far from complete so if you know of anyone I might have missed, or if I got someone’s affiliation wrong, feel free to register and leave a message below.
Just please don’t ask me to do ‘An Aboriginal Who’s Who of Canadian Civic Politics.’