Winnipeg’s Indigenous Rock the Vote hopes to make a difference again in federal election campaign

APTN News (Canada)
Pub Date: 
Wednesday, October 9, 2019 - 04:30

Lisa Forbes is a founder and volunteer voting educator with Winnipeg Indigenous Rock The Vote (submitted photo).

Kathleen Martens
After being inspired by an act of racism, Winnipeg Indigenous Rock The Vote (WIRTV) is finding no shortage of reasons to keep rolling through the current federal election.

“People get interested if there’s some kind of controversy,” said Lisa Forbes, a founder and volunteer voting educator with the group.

So far, the federal election campaign has delivered, she added.

“What I hear people talking about is (Justin Trudeau) buying the ($4.5-billion Trans Mountain) pipeline,” she said.

“And his handling of the Jody Wilson-Raybould scandal.”

While partisan issues are dominating today, Forbes says it was a racist outburst by the wife of mayoral candidate Garth Steeves in 2014 that first forged the WIRTV mission.

“We decided, ‘Hey, let’s get Indigenous people to vote so that we don’t have to have a mayor who is OK with these racist attitudes,’” Forbes recalled.

Steeves lost the race to Métis candidate Brian Bowman, and while the group couldn’t take credit for the defeat, it did lay to claim to educating Indigenous peoples about their voting rights.

Then, a few months later, former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper said the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls wasn’t on his “radar.”