Winnipeg mayoral candidates asked for solutions to homelessness and crime

Ten out of 11 candidates vying to become Winnipeg’s next mayor took part in an election forum on the weekend organized by two First Nations organizations.

The candidates were peppered with questions about reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

But top of mind were issues of homelessness and crime.

The forum heard that 75 per cent of the city’s homeless population is Indigenous. Winnipeg has the highest urban Indigenous population in Canada.

Garrison Settee, grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), said the new mayor must be familiar with the recommendations of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and National Inquiry for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

“We need to work together because these problems will not go away by themselves,” Settee told the candidates. “We must work together to find solutions that will resolve the homelessness and some of the addictions that our people face.”

MKO and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) jointly hosted the forum. Mayoral candidate Jenny Motkaluk, who recently criticized the AMC, did not attend.

Two of the candidates are hoping to become Winnipeg’s second Indigenous mayor – Robert Falcon Ouellette of Red Pheasant Cree Nation in Saskatchewan and Kevin Klein, who identifies as Métis.

Brian Bowman, who is not seeking a third term as mayor and is Métis, is Winnipeg’s first Indigenous mayor. He beat Motkaluk, who finished second, in the 2018 race.

Election day is Oct. 26.

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