An Aboriginal Who’s Who of Canadian Politics: Provincial/Territorial Version
Your guide to Aboriginal politicians in provincial and territorial governments
As I’ve pointed out in my previous ‘Who’s Who’ posts, a small but growing number of Aboriginal people have been running for and winning seats in the federal government.
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:
- Kevin Barr (Metis), NDP
- Darius Elias (Gwichʼin), LIB
- Jan Stick (Southern Tutchone), NDP
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).
There is however, a Minister of Aboriginal Relations & Reconciliation and a Select Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs. Yay?
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.
- Pearl Calahasen (Cree), PC
- Frank Oberle (Metis), PC
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.
- Kevin Chief (Metis), NDP
- Eric Robinson (Cree), NDP
- Frank Whitehead (Cree), NDP
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.’
9 thoughts on “An Aboriginal Who’s Who of Canadian Politics: Provincial/Territorial Version”
Susan Aglukaart Sorry re Spelling . Fed . Health ??
Leona Aglukkaq is a federal minister and is included here: https://mediaindigena.com/tim-fontaine/issues-and-politics/updated-an-aboriginal-who%E2%80%99s-who-of-canadian-politics
You also need to include the Senator of the NWT, Nick Sibbeston.
Hi, the Senator is included in the federal version of this list: https://mediaindigena.com/tim-fontaine/issues-and-politics/updated-an-aboriginal-who%E2%80%99s-who-of-canadian-politics
Interesting. Here in BC it is even worse than the representation…we have only 1 NDP MLA (Carole James) who is Metis…but in a province with the previously noted 5% of the population being aboriginal, we have very few aboriginal civil servants…in the Ministry of Social Development, where the Capital Region has at least 1/4 of persons collecting income assistance being aboriginal, we have in this region anyways almost no aboriginal front line workers that I am aware of, other than myself who is off work for job related medical reasons. In management I am aware of ‘0’ aboriginals. We used to have a few, but many left public service due to the chilly climate created by the BC Liberals.
Missed one: Torngat Mountains MHA, Randy Edmunds, in Newfoundland and Labrador, is Inuk.
The correct history of Aboriginal elected officials in Labrador and Newfoundland* is as follows:
1975: Joe Goudie (Metis; PC; re-elected in 1979 and 1982; defeated 1985)1993: Williams Andersen III (Inuit, Lib, did not re-offer in 1996)1996: Wally Andersen (Inuit, not Innu; Lib, re-elected in 1999 and 2003)1996: Ernie McLean (Inuit descent; Lib; re-elected in 1999; did not re-offer in 2003)1996: Yvonne Jones (Metis; Independent; re-elected as Lib in 1999, 2003, 2007)2007: Patty Pottle (Inuit; PC; defeated in 2011)2011: Randy Edmunds (Inuit; Lib)
* No Aboriginal person has been elected to represent a district on the island.
The abolition or reform of
the Senate should not proceed without addressing the right of Aboriginal
Peoples to be directly involved, since Aboriginal Peoples possess rights under
sections 35 and 25 of the Constitution
Act, 1982. “The Supreme Court of Canada has affirmed that Aboriginal
Peoples have a right to be fairly consulted and accommodated, when our status
is put at risk through a legislative initiative of federal, provincial or
territorial jurisdiction,” said Kim Beaudin, President of the Aboriginal
Affairs Coalition of Saskatchewan.
The Senate of Canada plays a
critical role in the protection of minority rights and interests, including
those of Aboriginal Peoples. In the Quebec
Secession Reference, the protection of minority rights was identified as a
fundamental principle of the Canadian Constitution. The Supreme Court of Canada
made it clear in this case when it stated, “The protection of [Aboriginal]
rights, so recently and arduously achieved, whether looked at in their own
right or as part of the larger concern with minorities, reflect an important
“Parliament and the national
Aboriginal organizations need to take a leadership role to ensure that
consultation takes place with Aboriginal Peoples prior to any amendments to the
Constitution that would reform or abolish the red chamber. We thank Senator Serge Joyal for bringing
these issues to the attention of the Supreme Court. At the same time, we are
disappointed that none of the national Aboriginal organizations chose to be an
Intervenor in this important reference case,” said Beaudin.
Saskatchewan told the
Supreme Court of Canada that the Senate could be abolished by a vote of 7
provinces representing at least 50% of the population. Unfortunately, this narrow
view reflects a misunderstanding of the democratic principles that underlie the
Canadian Constitution, as well as the balance and compromise that are an indispensable
part of federalism. “Saskatchewan’s position reflects the old imperial model
and fails to reflect the shift in relationships between the Crown and
Aboriginal peoples that took place in 1982 and subsequent decisions of the
Supreme Court,” said Beaudin.
The Aboriginal Affairs
Coalition of Saskatchewan does not believe that the Supreme Court of Canada will
support the 7/50 view of Graeme Mitchell, the Attorney General of Saskatchewan.
The Canadian Constitution cannot be amended without unanimity of the provinces
and consultations with the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and the Aboriginal peoples
of Canada. “The essential purpose of section 35 of the Canadian Constitution is
the reconciliation of Aboriginal peoples with the sovereignty of the Crown and
with the broader social, political and economic communities. The 7/50 formula
being advanced by the province is destined to fail and it’s disappointing to
see our province advancing a position that is simply outdated and does not
reflect the Honour of the Crown,” said Beaudin.
The AACS is an Aboriginal
advocacy organization representing the interests of status and non-status
Indians living off-reserve and Métis.
Since 2006, our organization has been advocating for the rights and
interests of this constituency at provincial and national levels.
For more information contact:
Aboriginal Affairs Coalition of Saskatchewan