By Adrian Humphreys | National Post, Oct 19, 2015
As election results spilled in from eastern Canada, complaints filled social media of polling stations on First Nations reserves running out of ballots because demand exceeded expectations.
Complaints of low or no ballots were made from Split Lake and Shoal Lake in Manitoba; Siksika First Nation in Alberta; and Onigaming First Nation in Ontario, among others.
Many complaints were accompanied by allegations of it being a conspiracy by the government to mute a rising aboriginal voice while others say it signals an increase in political activism by First Nation community residents.
“They underestimated the First Nations’ votes, that’s what bothers me. There are 7,000 registered voters and they bring 400 ballots for the day” to Siksika, an hour’s drive east of Calgary, said Lowa Beebe, an aboriginal activist and social media manager.
While new ballots were brought in, would-be voters needed to wait for almost an hour while officials scrambled, she said. She said it was outrageous that fewer ballots were brought in than actual votes cast in the previous election.
“We are always underestimated and always overlooked. It’s an injustice, a great injustice.”
She has heard of similar ballot complaints in at least seven aboriginal communities, a signal of voter interest among First Nations, she said.
“We had an 83-year-old man walking in here to vote for the first time in his life,” she said from near a polling station in Tsuut’ina Nation, near Calgary.
APTN quoted Wab Kinew, well-known aboriginal author and associate vice-president for Indigenous Relations at the University of Winnipeg, as saying ballots ran out at a polling station in his home community of Onigaming First Nation in Ontario’s Kenora riding.