#Indigenousvoters, #ElectionsCanada, #StéphanePerrault
Ottawa, Mar 18 (Canadian-Media): Elections Canada is launching new initiatives for training staff to better serve Indigenous voters in next year's polls, media reports said.
Elections Canada. Image credit: Website
Leaders in Indigenous communities would be contacted by returning officers in 28 electoral districts, this spring to plan with them the delivery of electoral services in the 2019 election.
The goal reportedly should be to improve access rather than persuading people to vote, said Stéphane Perrault, Canada's acting chief electoral officer.
"Indigenous voters may decide to participate, or not, and they have all kinds of historical reasons that will inform their choice," Perrault was reported to tell CBC News. "It's not for us to be a player in that, but we want to make sure that when they do choose to participate, that there's no administrative barrier."
Perrault added that Elections Canada is planning 18 months ahead of the campaign to to recruit more Indigenous people to work as returning officers and encourage their participation in local events in the communities.
Indigenous populations in their ridings would be trained by returning officers to be culturally competent in indigenous people's terminology and keep them well-informed about the socio-demographics on Indigenous people in Canada, their historical experiences, stereotypes and misconceptions.
There had been positive historical increase in turnout in on-reserve polling divisions, reported by Elections Canada, from 47.4 percent in 2011 to 61.5 percent in 2015 federal election.
This was an important reflection of reconciliation, said Perrault and added, "I have a lot of respect for the decision that they make to participate or not participate, but obviously I welcome their participation and hope that it increases."
"Our role is to make sure that if they want to participate, that we're there for them."
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)