The Aboriginal Affairs Coalition of Saskatchewan wants better representation for Aboriginal people at the municipal level across the province.
President of the Aboriginal rights group, Kim Beaudin, is calling on the provincial government to amend Saskatchewan’s Local Government Election Act and the Municipalities Act to include dedicated seats for Aboriginal people on municipal councils.
“I believe that we should have a seat because it would offer a voice to Aboriginal people across the province,” said Beaudin. “It would certainly provide a voice for policy with respect to municipal governments inside of Saskatchewan,” adding he feels Aboriginal priorities weren’t addressed in recent civil elections.
“Aboriginal issues weren’t even on the agenda,” he said.
Beaudin said dedicated seats at the municipal level would encourage more Aboriginal voters to cast their ballots adding some of the main challenges facing the Aboriginal community—like unemployment and attainable housing—are not being addressed.
“I don’t believe Aboriginal people understand the impact the city has on their day-to-day lives and this is another way to encourage people to come and vote,” he said. “They talk about a future plan, and I’m wondering if that future plan involves Aboriginal people.”
Beaudin said he thinks if issues facing Aboriginal people were addressed at the municipal level, it would create a “trickle-down effect,” across the province and would help address some of the broader issues like crime and poverty.
Minister of Government Relations and the minister responsible for First Nation, Métis and Northern Affairs, Jim Reiter, could not be reached for comment.