Four Métis candidates vying for federal seat in Winnipeg’s Saint Boniface-Saint Vital

Tucked away in the southeast corner of Winnipeg sits the riding of Saint Boniface-Saint Vital.

It’s home to a rich Franco-Manitoban culture and Indigenous history.

Métis leader Louis Riel’s grave is located in the heart of the Saint Boniface portion of the riding.

And for what may be the first time in the district’s history, four Métis candidates are hoping to secure the seat.

Incumbent Dan Vandal is running for the Liberals.

“I got involved at the federal level because I wanted to contribute to the positive development of Canada. I was really afraid of the damage that the Conservative party and Stephen Harper were doing to our country,” Vandal told APTN News while out campaigning.

Vandal said he is proud of the work Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has accomplished in the past four years.

“We started the first ever Liberal Indigenous caucus and that was still going strong at the dissolution of Parliament in June of this year,” said Vandal.

Prior to entering federal politics, Vandal was a Winnipeg city councillor for two decades.

He was one of the record number of Indigenous candidates to get into the House of Commons four years ago.

In September 2018, Vandal was appointed the parliamentary secretary to the minister of Indigenous Services.

It’s a role he hopes to continue if re-elected.

The Liberal party has faced a number of criticisms during the campaign trail including the release of old photos of Trudeau wearing blackface and the federal government’s decision to ask the Federal Court to judicially review the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal’s ruling to compensate children in care and their families.

Vandal understands this has left some voters upset but points to other work the Liberals have done to advance reconciliation.

“We’ve awarded compensation to Sixties Scoop survivors and we’ve given compensation to Day School survivors in Manitoba here,” said Vandal.

The riding has been historically Liberal with the Tories only being elected four times in the past 94 years.

NDP candidate Billie Cross says it’s time Saint Boniface-Saint Vital goes orange.

Cross is a school teacher fresh off the provincial election where she was beaten by Conservative candidate Andrew Smith in the riding of Lagimodière.

Life’s gotten more expensive under the Liberals, said Cross.

“Life hasn’t gotten any easier. It’s gotten harder, and if it’s affecting me, a school teacher…what’s happening to people who don’t have that type of employment,” she said.

Cross touted part of the NDP’s platform to fast track a universal drug plan as a way to relieve costs.

Healthcare concerns, among other things, are top of mind for some residents.

Over the past four years the provincial Conservative government has closed some hospital emergency rooms.

St. Boniface Hospital is one of the few to remain open.

“Since we don’t have enough beds and our hospital is always so full it just makes everyone stressed because we want to take care of people,” said Karla Ruiz, healthcare aide at the hospital.

“I want them to hire more people and get more positions opened because right now it’s just not enough.”

Deanna Robinson has witnessed what this does to patients. Her sister has had to go to emergency several times for a medical condition only to be turned away because doctors told her they didn’t have resources to help her, explained Robinson.

Along with addressing healthcare concerns, Robinson hopes the next federal government will, “address the climate crisis and [establish] more resources for people who are suffering with addiction.”

Green candidate Ben Linnick has seen the toll cuts to healthcare have had on residents.

He is an emergency communications operator and dispatcher with the City of Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service.

“There’s not enough being done for people who fall on hard times, for people who do fall through the cracks, for people who are marginalized by the systems we already have in place,” said Linnick.

“We really need to take a look at what’s going on…and look at a lot of the root causes.”

Linnick commits to supporting grassroots organizations who are doing the frontline work in the riding.

While the province is in charge of healthcare, all three candidates have said they will do their best to work with Premier Brian Pallister to ensure residents concerns are addressed.

Réjeanne Caron is running for the Conservatives but she declined to speak with APTN. Caron is a member of the Winnipeg Police Service.

Adam McAllister is running for the People’s Party of Canada and Sharma Baljeet is running as an Independent.

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