Election Day: Indigenous Right to Vote

This black and white image captures the polling station in the Hiawatha Council Hall on Oct. 31, 1960, where, in a byelection, members of Hiawatha and Curve Lake First Nations (Anishinaabe), became the first Indigenous people in Canada to exercise their right to vote following 1960 legislation (that môniyawak had always taken for granted).

In the photo, left to right: Lawrence Salleby; Chief Ralph Loucks, deputy returning officer; Lucy Muskratt, poll clerk; Eldon Muskratt, poll constable. (Nick Nickels/Library and Archives Canada/PA-123915)

Thanks to Steven Greyeyes – on this federal election day – for guiding me to this photo, and the accompanying 2019 story from CBC. No matter how (or whether) you vote, it’s worth remembering that this is a right that was gained through the spirit and determination of FN ancestors, envisioning a better life for the generations ahead.


Thanks also to Dougald Lamont (leader of Manitoba’s Liberay Party) for clarifying that In Manitoba the provincial government stopped blocking all First Nations from their right to vote in provincial elections on January 1, 1952.

If you’re talking about elections today, here are some words from the itwêwina dictionary you might find useful (links go directly to the dictionary so you can see words in all their forms; some may also include audio):

akihtêw it is counted

apiwin seat (as in government)

kihcapiwin seat (in government)

kihci-okimâw government

misawîw s/he is disappointed, s/he experiences defeat

nakâhtwâw s/he wins

nawasôniwêw s/he chooses people, s/he votes for people, s/he elects people

okimânâhk government, federal or provincial government; Band Council, Band authorities

osâkohcihiwêw victor; one who wins

paskiyâkêw s/he wins things, s/he is the winner

paskiyawêw s/he beats s.o. in a contest, s/he overpowers s.o.; s/he wins from s.o.

pimipahtâwin footrace; election

sâkôcihtwâw s/he is defeated

2 Responses

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Contact Us: