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Press Releases and Media Advisories

Elections Canada Marks 50 Years of
Voting Rights for All First Nations Members

OTTAWA, Wednesday, March 31, 2010 – On this day in 1960, a bill to amend the Canada Elections Act received Royal Assent, extending the right to vote to all First Nations members. Before 1960, registered Indians living on reserves had been disqualified from voting unless they gave up their status and applied to be enfranchised.

"Elections Canada joins with Aboriginal peoples across Canada to mark this important anniversary," said Chief Electoral Officer of Canada Marc Mayrand. "In the 50 years since the unconditional right to vote was extended to all First Nations members, many Aboriginal electors have participated in the federal electoral process as voters and candidates. I look forward to continuing to work with Aboriginal communities and groups to make the electoral process as accessible as possible to Aboriginal peoples."

Available studies indicate that, historically, the turnout of Aboriginal persons at federal elections is lower than that of other Canadians. However, through partnerships between Elections Canada and groups such as the Assembly of First Nations and the National Association of Friendship Centres, great progress has been made in reaching out to Aboriginal populations. Over the past two decades, Elections Canada has implemented a number of initiatives to facilitate and encourage voting by Aboriginal electors.

For example, during federal elections, information materials are available in Aboriginal languages. The Aboriginal Community Relations Officer Program and the Aboriginal Elder and Youth Program help to identify and address the needs of individual communities and encourage participation in the electoral process. In addition, Elections Canada publishes information of interest to Aboriginal electors on its Web site and collaborates with academic institutions and associations representing Aboriginal peoples to conduct research, consultation and outreach activities.

For more information about programs and services aimed at facilitating access to the electoral process by Aboriginal electors, please visit the "Information for Aboriginal Voters" section of our Web site.

Elections Canada is an independent body set up by Parliament.

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