Riding in B.C. has highest percentage of Indigenous voters in province but no Indigenous candidates

The federal riding of Skeen-Bulkey Valley may have the largest percentage of Indigenous voters in the province, but voters there have zero Indigenous candidates to mark their X beside.

The riding is home to more than 89,000 people and covers most of Northern B.C., from Haida Gwaii to below the Alaskan panhandle.

One-third of the voters are Indigenous.

But there isn’t an Indigenous candidate on the ballot.

Robert Campbell, a hereditary chief from Kispiox says his community feels disconnected and not represented by the federal government.

“Each candidate gets elected and then we don’t see them that much,” he said. “We always ask the government, why don’t you see how we live. They make all these promises, then they neglect.”

Campbell said there are serious issues in this election for his community.

Especially around employment.

“Unemployment is high and after the sawmills shut down there is hardly any industry except mining,” he said.

“You have to go away to different areas of B.C.”

Jobs in Northern B.C. have been dependent on natural resources and construction.

One of the issues at an all candidates forum was the 670 km LNG pipeline which spans across the north.

That pipeline has faced strong opposition from the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.

Richard Wright from the House of Luutkudziiwus, is a spokesperson for the Gitxsan,

“A perfect example is with the Wet’suwet’en where Pacific Gaslink signed off on an agreement with imposed Indian Act band who has limited jurisdiction and the pipeline doesn’t go anywhere near the reserve land,” he said.

For Frankie Abel, member of the Gitxsan Nation, murdered and missing Indigenous women are her big concern.

Her community is located along Hwy 16 in B.C., also known as the Highway of Tears.

“The issues that come up for me is The Highway of Tears, missing and murdered Indigenous women and other people that missing on our highway. Housing is always a big issue in my community and employment”

Abel would also like to see housing address in her community.

“We have homes that have sometimes up to nine people in them,” she said.

“Children, aunties, grandparents children and that’s a fire hazard.”

Wright says there’s a long way to go before people here become more involved in federal politics.

He says while the federal government says it supports the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, it falls short by not recognizing hereditary forms of governance over the land.

“When they talk about reconciliation and implementing UNDRIP they are falling very short of the mark,” he said.


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