Indigenous people in Canada consist of First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities. Each group has its own history and experience with voting in federal elections. Members of all three groups, however, identify similar barriers to electoral participation. To reduce these barriers and build trust, Elections Canada has made listening to Indigenous voices—and creating spaces for them to be heard—a top priority.
To help fulfill that priority, after the 44th general election the Chief Electoral Officer directed Elections Canada to review how it engages with and delivers public education and election services to Indigenous communities. Read more about the Indigenous Electoral Services Review.
As part of this review, Elections Canada has launched an education pilot program in Northwestern Ontario. This initiative, which is being led by locally based Indigenous program coordinators, will allow us to deepen our ties to Indigenous schools, communities and organizations in the region and respond to their learning needs and interests. We will also work with our Indigenous partners in the region to build a greater understanding of federal elections through in-person visits, information booths, workshops and other activities that help reduce barriers to the electoral process.
If you are part of an Indigenous community or organization in Northwestern Ontario and would like to learn more about Elections Canada's activities in the region, please email our Indigenous Outreach Coordinator, Tiffany Miller, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also check out and order some of Elections Canada's information products and toolkits or connect with us to find out how to get more involved in the democratic process.
As noted above, each of Canada's First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities have their own unique history and experiences with federal elections. These histories have affected how Indigenous electors view federal elections and influence their decision to participate—or to not participate.
In recent federal elections, Indigenous participation has increased in some areas. Notably, the 2015 general election saw the smallest gap between on-reserve turnout and general population turnout since 2004. The same election saw the highest ever number of Indigenous members of Parliament elected. While on-reserve turnout declined by nearly 10 percentage points in the 2019 federal election, it nevertheless remained higher than it had been throughout the 2000s.
Despite some progress, many First Nations, Métis, and Inuit electors continue to experience barriers like those listed above.
Dabin, Simon, Jean François Daoust and Martin Papillon. 2018. "Indigenous Peoples and Affinity Voting in Canada." Canadian Journal of Political Science, 52(1): 1-15.
Goodman, Nicole, Chelsea Gabel and Brian Budd. 2018. "Online Voting in Indigenous Communities: Lessons from Canada." International Joint Conference on Electronic Voting: E-Vote ID 2018: 67-83. [Abstract; Voilà]
Elections Canada. 2011. Aboriginal Electoral Participation in Canada
Elections Canada. 2009. Aboriginal Policy Research Conference
Elections Canada. 2003. Electoral Insight – Aboriginal Participation in Elections