Winnipeg mayoral candidates participate in final forum on urban Indigenous issues

Winnipeg’s mayoral hopefuls participated in their final forum before the city heads to the polls on Wednesday, this time on urban Indigenous issues.

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and M-K-O hosted the event at the new Wyndham Garden Airport Hotel. It’s part of Long Plain First Nation’s urban reserve on Madison Avenue.

Candidates Idris Adelakun, Rana Bokhari, Chris Clacio , Scott Gillingham, Kevin Klein, Shaun Loney, Glen Murray, Robert-Falcon Ouellette, Rick Shone and Don Woodstock attended, leaving Jenny Motkaluk as the only absent candidate.

All candidates spoke of the need for more partnerships and consultation with Indigenous peoples in city government.

“I know that if we take Indigenous leadership’s (lead), they have created the path to betterment, they have the path to move forward, I think right now it’s about following that path,” said Bokhari.

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Outgoing mayor Brian Bowman said he is most proud of how the city has moved forward on reconciliation when reflecting on his time in office.

Read more: Winnipeg mayoral candidate doubles down on controversial Canada Day remarks

“Our work on human rights and reconciliation is now receiving national recognition,” he said. “I am really proud of the community and the work we’ve been able to do to move forward on our journey of reconciliation.”

Candidate Gillingham says he is going to make sure the city takes the next steps on the journey toward reconciliation.

“Truth and reconciliation are not recommendations. They are calls to action and I will act on those calls to action.”

Candidate Falcon Oulette says the city needs to rethink its relationships with the Indigenous government, the provincial government, and the federal government.

“We actually need to involve the Indigenous government and work together with the federal government,” he said.

Candidate Loney believes a conversation needs to be had with the provincial government regarding homelessness.

“We have to go to the province and say we don’t want you to spend more on homelessness, we insist you spend less, and we have new modern tools to do it. And they are Indigenous and they’re beautiful,” he said.

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Candidate Murray said if decisions were being made with partners, things would look different.

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“If we actually understand this land, then we treat it differently, and we treat you differently. And if we’re actually making seven-generation decisions, they wouldn’t look like the decisions we’re making today.”

However, not all candidates are as committed to moving forward with reconciliation and Indigenous partnerships.

As part of her campaign, Motkaluk (who was missing from Saturday’s event) has repeatedly called for a return to more celebration on July 1, prompting the AMC to criticize her remarks earlier this month.

“The Canada that Jenny Motkaluk is celebrating was built off the suffering First Nations and should have never existed in the first place,” said Deputy Grand Chief Cornell McLean in a statement.

“It is time to move forward in reconciliation and create new traditions to honour what this nation was meant to be. Canada is home for all of us, First Nations peoples and settlers alike. As a nation, we need to come together and agree that celebrating colonization and genocide is no longer part of the agenda.

“Reconciliation is the direction all politicians should walk towards, not away from.”

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Winnipeggers will elect their 44th mayor this coming Wednesday, October 26.

Click to play video: '‘Immense progress’ made on reconciliation, but Orange Shirt Day calls for more: Winnipeg activist'

‘Immense progress’ made on reconciliation, but Orange Shirt Day calls for more: Winnipeg activist

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