Rising Indigenous participation in Canadian democratic establishments

If the results of Simon Dabin’s research seem surprising, it is because he was the first to address this topic: “There are several studies, but they relate to the fact that [les Autochtones] don’t go to the polls, not to those who do, ”explains Simon Dabin, a postdoctoral fellow at the Inter-University Center for Indigenous Studies and Research, one of which is at the University of Montreal and is responsible for political science courses. in UQAM.

It was thanks to a seminar by Martin Papillon, Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science at UMM, that Simon Dabin became interested in Aboriginal issues. “When I did a master’s and even a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from politics at the University of Montreal, we didn’t hear about Aboriginal studies. This is no longer the case, “he says, emphasizing that he has the impression that he is talking about another time. So during this last master’s seminar, Martin Papillon had the group read Peace, power and justice, indigenous manifesto (Hannenorak Editions, 2014) by Taiaiake Alfred. “He is certainly one of the greatest thinkers of decolonism in Canada. His book really upset my beliefs, my certainties, and from then on I started reading about indigenous thinkers, about Canadian history from the perspective of the natives. I was interested in it and decided to get a doctorate on these issues under the guidance of Martin Papillon, “the student concludes.

This means that only three years after he started working on his dissertation, he decided to change the subject: “I wrote an article about the voting of the natives at a seminar on Canadian politics at the beginning of my doctorate. [en 2015]. The article came out while I was working on my next diploma project and I saw that it was original. In a way, the topic was almost forced.

Participatory renewal

Acknowledgments: University of Montreal

In a summary of his work entitled “Indigenous Participation in Canadian Democratic Institutions”, Simon Dabin writes that the participation of indigenous peoples living from the reserves has been above 50% since the two federal elections (ie 2015 and 2019). His research has also shown him an increase in the number of Indigenous candidates since 2008 and the election of an ever-increasing number of Indigenous MPs in each election since 2011. He sees this participatory revival as an unprecedented opportunity to see and question the complex relationship that Natives have with Canadian democratic institutions. its meaning.

He reveals this complex relationship in his work through three articles. The first deals with the participation of indigenous peoples in colonial institutions and the desire for self-determination of these nations, the second deals with the electoral behavior of indigenous peoples on the basis of quantitative data and the last deals with representing the interests of indigenous peoples through MPs who identify ase Legislature of Canada (Federal Election 2015).

A phenomenon that deserves to be studied

Simon Dabin chose the 2006 federal election as a starting point for his research into the development of Aboriginal voting for practical reasons: . I try to go back, but it’s complicated. He then analyzed the election results in 2006, 2008, 2011, 2015 and 2019.

The aim of the Aboriginal specialist was not to comment on the increase in the participation of the natives in the federal elections, but to show that this phenomenon exists. “Indigenous people are taking part in the elections, there are more and more indigenous deputies, there are senators and maybe there will be an indigenous judge of the Supreme Court, who will be appointed in the coming weeks,” he said. Studies that essentialize the natives on one side or the other always bother me a little. They cannot be reduced to action, strategy or ideology. Let’s look at what they do rather than a priori judge them for their actions.

Of course, Simon Dabin continues to research on this topic. In addition, he said, it is normal for us to take an interest in this in political science, because the natives will certainly have an increasing demographic and electoral weight. “It will take years, but it will happen because there are more and more constituencies, where they represent 30 to 50% of voters. There are more and more deputies, and in a way there are more different strategies in indigenous movements. There are also more alliances than we have seen with the Wet’suwet’en people, whose claims have been supported by many indigenous demonstrations, “he said.

He refers to the Wet’suwet’en’s efforts to prevent the Coastal GasLink project from crossing their original territory, which is located in northern British Columbia. Demonstrations of foreigners in support of the natives would have been unthinkable 10 years ago, according to the Doctor of Political Science. “At the time, there was no such great mobilization of immigrants in support of the Idle No More movement. Something is happening, there are different relationships, there are ways to see the future differently. I think we need to see and study these actions, “he notes.

He has seen these changes for several years. Among other things, he mentions at UdeM the opening of the Uatik lounge for Aboriginal students in 2015. He also saw his first Aboriginal weeks at university. “At first there were 10 people and the next day they told me that there were 80 people in each activity. For four years, I lectured on indigenous politics at the Department of Political Science at UdeM and saw the development of my classes. They are still small groups, but there is still evolution in the youth that gives a little hope, “concludes one who wants other people to work on the same topic as him, because it is a science” and that there are certainly many things that I have not seen or said in my dissertation “.

Leave a Comment