The 51 ridings AFN says it targeted in the last election

While all 51 ridings AFN national chief Perry Bellegarde said were influenced by the First Nations vote probably weren't decided on that electorate, rising Indigenous turnout and population may drive the group's influence in federal politics in the generation ahead.

Chief Marcia Brown Martel, pictured Oct. 6, 2017, singing on Parliament Hill. Before and since the 2015 elections, Indigenous peoples in Canada have called on the federal government to reset the relationship between both parties.
The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade

PUBLISHED :Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018 2:19 PM

Assembly of First Nations national chief Perry Bellegarde says he believes that First Nations voters are emerging as an electoral force in federal votes, singling out 51 ridings in the 2015 election where that presence influenced the final results.

He also claimed that voter turnout in 2015 among First Nations people was the highest for any federal election.

“The concept of dual citizenship, we’re embracing that,” he told The Hill Times in an extensive sit-down interview on Dec. 13.

The 51-riding figure comes from a list developed by the AFN prior to the 2015 federal elections. It was based on First Nations population figures and the perceived closeness of the individual races.


It’s hard to decipher, however, how significant the role Indigenous voters played in influencing the outcome in those ridings because of limited data.

There are 2016 census numbers showing the number of people in each riding who identify as Indigenous, which can help gauge the size of the Indigenous electorate. But there are no available statistics on the number of eligible Indigenous voters in each riding, Indigenous turnout, and who they voted for.

Elections Canada only tracks voting on First Nations reserves, but half of First Nations people live outside of such communities, and the on-reserve numbers are only categorized by province or territory.

But looking at the 2015 results and census data, it’s clear that the First Nations vote wielded significant influence in at least some of the 51 ridings.


For example, NDP MP Niki Ashton won the northern Manitoba riding of Churchill-Keewatinook Aski by only 912 votes. The Indigenous population of the riding sits at around 65,000 people

However, the impact was less pronounced in other contests listed by the AFN. In the Nova Scotia riding of Kings-Hants, Liberal MP and Treasury Board President Scott Brison cruised to re-election in 2015 by a margin of 24,349 votes. The riding’s Indigenous population is listed at around 4,385 people. It should be noted that Mr. Brison only edged the second-place candidate in 2011 by 1,173 votes.

Some ridings are also in a grey area, where credible date on the number of eligible First Nations electors, turnout, and which party they voted for are probably needed to reach a conclusion. Ridings with a modest Indigenous population with a modest margin of victory are likely to fall in this area.

Complicating this is that fact recent observations have also noted that First Nations voters are split in party support, but tend to back NDP and Liberal candidates, with the Grits increasing their share of Indigenous votes the most out of all parties in 2015.


The other variable to consider is First Nations turnout and the number of its eligible voters in each riding. There’s no data that paint a full picture, and turnout and total eligible voters—for Indigenous and non-Indigenous voters—varies riding-by-riding.

It’s generally noted by Elections Canada, however, that turnout is slightly less than the national average among Indigenous voters. On-reserve voting was at 61.5 per cent in the last election, but only half of First Nations in Canada live on reserves.

Here’s the list of 51 ridings also detailing the winning candidate, margin of victory in the election, the Indigenous population one year later, and overall turnout in the riding:

No.RidingMPPartyMargin of victory in 2015 electionIndigenous pop. by %/total from 2016 censusOverall turnout %
1.Labrador, N.L.Yvonne JonesLiberal (incumbent)7,099 votes43.7%


2.Long Range Mountains, N.L.Gudie HutchingsLiberal25,804 votes23.57%


3.Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, N.S.Darren FisherLiberal (gain)17,650 votes4.66%


4.Kings-Hants, N.S.Scott BrisonLiberal (incumbent)24,349 votes5.31%


5.Sydney-Victoria, N.S.Mark EykingLiberal (incumbent)24,644 votes10.66%


6.Abitibi-Baie-James-Nunavik-Eeyou, Que.Romeo SaganashNDP (incumbent)1,684 votes38.15%


7.Avignon-La Mitis-Matane-Matapedia, Que.Remi MasseLiberal (gain)6,737 votes5.55%


8.Becancour-Nicolet-Saurel, Que.Louis PlamondonBloc Québécois (incumbent)8,205 votes1.77%


9.Gaspésie-Iles-de-la-Madeleine, Que.Diane LebouthillierLiberal (gain)2,460 votes8.58%


10.Longueuil-Saint-Hubert, Que.Pierre NantelNDP (incumbent)703 votes0.98%


11.Louis- Saint-Laurent, Que.Gerard DeltellConservative (gain)18,785 votes3.19%


12.Manicouagan, Que.Marilene GillBloc Québécois (gain)4,995 votes18.15%


13.Montmagny-L’Islet-Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup, Que.Bernard GenereuxConservative (gain)272 votes1.02%


14.Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing, Ont.Carol HughesNDP (incumbent) 2,405 votes19.17%


15.Brantford-Brant, Ont.Phil McColemanConservative (incumbent)6,452 votes5.43%


16.Kenora, Ont.Bob NaultLiberal (gain)498 votes46.81%


17.London North Centre, Ont.Peter FragiskatosLiberal (gain)12,437 votes2.31%


18.Mississauga-Malton, Ont.Navdeep BainsLiberal (gain)14,464 votes0.4%


19.Niagara Centre, Ont.Vance BadaweyLiberal (gain)2,295 votes3.63%


20.Nipissing-Timiskaming, Ont.Anthony RotaLiberal (gain)11,032 votes11.95%


21.Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.Terry SheehanLiberal (gain)5,967 votes12.68%


22.Scarborough-Guildwood, Ont.John McKayLiberal (incumbent)14,059 votes1.18%


23.Thunder Bay-Superior North, Ont.Patty HajduLiberal (gain)9,730 votes15.84%


24.Timmins-James Bay, Ont.Charlie AngusNDP (incumbent)3,034 votes19.35%


25.Churchill-Keewatinook Aski, Man.Niki AshtonNDP (incumbent)912 votes76.33%


26.Dauphin-Swan River-Neepawa, Man.Robert SopuckConservative (incumbent)7,000 votes26.51%


27.Elmwood- Transcona, Man.Daniel BlaikieNDP (gain)61 votes13.59%


28.Winnipeg Centre, Man.Robert-Falcon OuelletteLiberal (gain)8,981 votes18.51%


29.Winnipeg North, Man.Kevin LamoureuxLiberal (incumbent)18,209 votes17.89%


30.Winnipeg South Centre, Man.Jim CarrLiberal (gain)16,891 votes7.65%


31.Battlefords-Lloydminster, Sask.Gerry RitzConservative (incumbent)14,617 votes24.08%


32.Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River, Sask.Georgina JoliboisNDP (gain)82 votes70.91%


33.Prince Albert, Sask.Randy HobackConservative (incumbent)8,429 votes30.63%


34.Regina-Lewvan, Sask.Erin WeirNDP (gain)132 votes7.64%


35.Regina-Qu’Appelle, Sask.Andrew ScheerConservative (incumbent)5,342 votes20.98%


36.Regina-Wascana, Sask.Ralph GoodaleLiberal (incumbent)10,621 votes7.77%


37.Saskatoon West, Sask.Sheri BensonNDP (gain)2,520 votes18.5%


38.Edmonton Griesbach, Alta.Kerry DiotteConservative2,848 votes10.06%


39.Cariboo-Prince George, B.C.Todd DohertyConservative2,767 votes16.64%


40.Courtenay-Alberni, B.C.Gord JohnsNDP (gain)6,868 votes9.36%


41.Cowichan-Malahat-Langford, B.C.Alistair MacGregorNDP (incumbent)7,515 votes9.59%


42.Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon, B.C.Jati SidhuLiberal (gain)1,038 votes11.54%


43.Nanaimo-Ladysmith, B.C.Sheila MalcolmsonNDP (gain)6,898 votes8.47%


44.Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke, B.C.Randall GarrisonNDP (incumbent)5,214 votes5.63%


45.Skeena-Bulkley Valley, B.C.Nathan CullenNDP (incumbent)11,595 votes34.14%


46.South Okanagan-West Kootenay, B.C.Richard CanningsNDP (gain)4,952 votes6.84%


47.Surrey Centre, B.C.Randeep SaraiLiberal (gain)6,479 votes3.77%


48.Surrey-Newton, B.C.Sukh DhaliwalLiberal (gain)13,267 votes2.35%


49.North Island-Powell River, B.C.Rachel BlaneyNDP (gain)8,500 votes12.03%


50.YukonLarry BagnellLiberal (gain)5,959 votes23.34%


51.Northwest TerritoriesMichael McLeodLiberal (gain)3,389 votes50.71%



The influence of the First Nations vote in 2015 is hard to gauge, but considering statistics published by Elections Canada following the 2015 elections, and population figures from the 2016 census, it certainly that Indigenous voters are bound to pack a greater punch in federal elections as time goes on. Population is growing, and voter turnout will rise again if it follows the trend of the last decade.


Indigenous electorate is growing, and on-reserve First Nations voters are casting ballots in increasingly higher numbers

The population of Indigenous people in Canada grew 42.5 per cent since 2006, more than four times the growth rate of the non-Aboriginal population in the same time. There are 1.67 million Indigenous people in Canada, accounting for about 5 per cent of the total population.

The Indigenous population is young, and the federal government projects that sometime in the next two decades, the Indigenous population will grow to 2.5 million in the country. About half of First Nations, overwhelmingly the largest group of Indigenous peoples in Canada, live on reserves while half do not.

There has also been a general upward trend in the number of on-reserve First Nations voters in recent elections. In the 2004 elections, on-reserve First Nations turnout was at 40.3 per cent, rising to 48.8 per cent in 2006. Although turnout sank to 42.4 per cent in 2008, it rose to 47.4 per cent in the Conservatives’ majority victory in 2011 before peaking in 2015.

The 2015 election marked the smallest turnout gap between on-reserve First Nations voters and the rest of Canada since Elections Canada began monitoring it in 2004.

The Hill Times