Wab Kinew has just become prime minister of Manitoba’s majority government – the first Indian to hold that position. The New Democratic Party, of which he is the leader, won the parliamentary elections in this Canadian province two weeks ago.
Wab Kinew was sworn in as premier of the Manitoba government on Wednesday. At this ceremony, he performed in an Indian headdress, and the ceremony itself had a part referring to the traditions of indigenous people, Indians and Inuit. Kinew also took up the portfolio of minister of reconciliation with indigenous peoples.
In the 34-member parliamentary club of the New Democratic Party, 10 people are indigenous people. For the first time in history, there are also Indian women in the Manitoba government: Nahanni Fontaine – Minister of Family and Bernadette Smith – Minister of Housing, Addictions and Homelessness.
Priorities of the Canadian New Democratic Party
Kinew, presenting the government’s priorities, said that the most important thing was to repair the health care system, and the Minister of Health, Uzoma Asagwara, specializing in psychiatric nursing and addiction therapy, a non-binary person, became the deputy prime minister of the government.
Next priorities are fuel prices and electricity bills, and Kinew has made a commitment that energy production in Manitoba will remain public. He also committed to solving the problem of chronic homelessness.
Kinew is an Anishinaabe Indian, in his youth he lived on a reservation, his father was a student at a forced Indian school, he passed on knowledge of the culture and language to his son.
Kinew is 41 years old and before becoming a politician he worked as a journalist for the public broadcaster CBC. He was first elected to the Manitoba Parliament in 2016. A few weeks ago, he told The Canadian Press that his father, as a young man, did not have the right to vote in the elections. Indians did not gain the right to vote in Canada until the 1950s and 1960s.
The Parliament of Manitoba, which has a population of almost 1.4 million, has 57 members of parliament. In Manitoba, the Conservatives have won the elections since 2016; the New Democratic Party (NDP) was previously in power from 1999 to 2016.
Main photo source: WabKinew/X Platform