Grand Chiefs endorse Liberal at NDP event

The New Democratic Party’s (NDP) Winnipeg press conference ended on an awkward note when two Manitoba First Nations leaders endorsed the Liberal candidate over the NDP in Manitoba’s northernmost riding.

Grand Chief Arlen Dumas, of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, and Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Garrison Settee appeared alongside NDP leader Jagmeet Singh during a campaign event discussing Indigenous issues on Aug. 26.

Dumas and Settee endorsed Liberal candidate Shirley Robinson over NDP incumbent Niki Ashton in the Churchill—Keewatinook Aski riding.

The leaders’ endorsement was based on a desire to add more Indigenous voices to Parliament and to remove Ashton over her political record.

Liberal candidate Robinson has spent 14 years as a Cross Lake First Nation band councillor and is running for federal office for the first time.

Ashton is not Indigenous and has advocated for clean drinking water on reserves as well as an inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

When rail service to the north was cut off due to flood damage in 2017, Ashton advocated for the rail lines to be nationalized while First Nations leaders argued for an Indigenous-led group to take ownership.

The lines were repaired with federal funding and are currently run by the Arctic Gateway Group.