Wab Kinew to lead Manitoba after historic election win

First First Nation premier

Manitobans are waking up today to a new government and the first First Nations provincial premier in the country.

The New Democrats and Leader Wab Kinew defeated the Progressive Conservatives to form a majority government, which resulted in the resignation of the other two main party leaders.

Heather Stefanson announced she would step down after leading the Tories for nearly two years, after several of her cabinet members lost their seats in Winnipeg.

As of early this morning, Stefanson was narrowly holding onto her seat in the Winnipeg riding of Tuxedo.

Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont resigned after he lost his Winnipeg riding and his party was reduced to one seat from the previous three.

Kinew says his victory is a victory for everyone in Manitoba.

Kinew was raised as a young boy on the Onigaming First Nation in northwestern Ontario, later moving with his family to Winnipeg. His late father was not allowed to vote as a young man under Canadian law at the time.

"To witness this tonight, it's really gratifying," Eric Robinson, a former Manitoba NDP cabinet minister and deputy premier, said in an interview.

"I think First Nations people, and Indigenous people in general across Canada, should feel proud of Manitoba. We've demonstrated through perseverance, some hard work and participation in the mainstream Canadian politics, that it has paid off in a big way."

While other Métis people in Manitoba have served in elected office, the province’s history with First Nations people holding elected office only goes back a few decades.

It wasn't until the '50s and '60s that First Nations people were allowed to vote without conditions in provincial and federal elections.

Cadmus Delorme, a former chief of Cowessess First Nation in southeast Saskatchewan, said in a text message the "ceiling has been lifted" for what Indigenous people can achieve.

"In 1960, Indigenous people were able to vote for the first time. (Kinew's) parents would remember that time," said Delorme, chair of the Residential School Documents Advisory Committee.

"As Indigenous people, we sometimes have to try twice as hard to succeed in Canada. It's now time (Kinew) makes it normal for Indigenous people to be successful alongside Canadians."

During his victory speech Tuesday, Kinew said young Indigenous people and those of all backgrounds who are struggling can change their lives for the better.

"But here's the thing. You have to want it," he said.

"If you want to leave the party lifestyle behind, it has to be you to make the decision. If you want to join the workforce, get a new career, it has to be you to take the first step. And if you're dealing with some kind of illness and you want to find healing, it has to be you to decide to move forward.

"I can't do that for you. A government can't do that for you."

But he said the government can help, if someone takes that step.

"Seek your vision. Seek your vision. Dreams come true."

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