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First Nations, Métis, and Inuit electors

Indigenous people in Canada consist of First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities. Each has its own history and experience with voting in federal elections. Members of all three groups, however, identify similar barriers to electoral participation.

Access-related barriers

  • First Nations, Métis, and Inuit electors are less likely than the general population to have a piece of ID that proves their address, and more likely to live in more remote places that may not have civic addresses (like reserves, hamlets, and settlements). These factors can make it harder to register and vote.
  • Many First Nations, Métis, and Inuit electors who travel often between two or more communities (whether for school, work, hunting, or other reasons) say it is challenging to confirm the place where they should register and vote.
  • Compared to the general population, First Nations, Métis, and Inuit electors in both remote and urban areas are less likely to receive information about registering to vote, voting in advance, and where to vote.
  • In the 2015 National Youth Survey, Indigenous youth said that the greatest barriers to voting federally were:
    • A lower awareness of the different ways to vote;
    • A lack of interest in the election, and;
    • Difficulty getting to a polling station.

Motivational barriers

  • As noted above, each of Canada’s First Nations, Métis, and Inuit electorss has a unique history with federal elections. These histories have affected many First Nations, Métis, and Inuit electors’s interest in federal elections and their decision to participate – or not to participate.
    • While Inuit people received the right to vote federally in 1950, access to voting services in their traditional lands was limited until 1962.
    • Until 1960, First Nations people could only vote in federal elections if they gave up their status (with few exceptions).
    • Métis people have always had the right to vote federally, but in certain parts of Canada, geographical and social isolation made voting difficult.
  • Currently, research shows that many Indigenous youth choose to be civically engaged in ways other than voting in federal elections.

In recent federal elections, Indigenous participation has increased in some areas. For example, the 2015 general election saw the smallest gap between on-reserve turnout and general population turnout since 2004. The same election also saw the highest-ever number of Indigenous MPs elected.

That being said, many First Nations, Métis, and Inuit electors continue to face barriers like those listed above.

Are you interested in sharing information that helps reduce these barriers?

Are you looking for tools to start a conversation about civic engagement in your community?

Based on feedback we’ve received from Indigenous organizations and participants at events, we’ve created a tool kit (coming soon) that helps people share information about federal elections with their communities:

  • the services that can make their voting experience easier
  • the ways in which people can be civically engaged