Well known Aboriginal leaders were elected in their northern ridings in Canada's federal election on January 23, 2006.
Some of these winners include:
- Gary Merasty, former Grand Chief of the Prince Albert Grand Council, won the Northern Saskatchewan seat of Desnethé-Missinippi Churchill River by 106 votes.
- Tina Keeper, a well-known actress from the North of 60 program, won the Churchill seat in Northern Manitoba.
- Nancy Karetak-Lindell was re-elected to represent the Nunavut region for a fourth time.
- Todd Russell, former president of the Labrador Metis Nation, was re-elected to represent the people in the Labrador riding.
As well, Ethel Blondin-Andrew, a well-known champion for Aboriginal rights and former cabinet minister, lost her seat in the Northwest Territories after six terms when another Aboriginal leader from the region ran against her for the Conservative party. In the end, the NDP candidate was able to capture that seat with the split Aboriginal vote across the region.
CBC online news reports highlighted some of the other challenges to the election results that these candidates faced in these ridings ...
Seat was 'stolen,' defeated MP says - Jan 24 2006
A Conservative who lost his seat in northern Saskatchewan last night is claiming the riding was stolen.
Jeremy Harrison says he will ask for an examination of the results in Desnethé-Missinippi Churchill River.
Harrison, who was elected to the northern riding in the 2004 election, lost to Liberal Gary Merasty Monday by 106 votes.
However, Harrison is alleging various irregularities. He said he's received reports that the Liberals were threatening native voters, telling them if they didn't vote Liberal they wouldn't be getting their cheques and other benefits.
The Harrison camp also had reports from individuals about plans to stuff ballot boxes at the end of the night, he said. It's also alleged there were Liberal pamphlets and signs and in polling stations and even inside polling booths, he said.
"We feel the election was stolen," he said.
"We're going to be appealing. We're asking for an investigation to be launched into what happened. There are many things that were concerning but I think the thing we're most concerned about is what happened on some of the Indian reserves."
Harrison said he has also heard accounts that voter turnout in some places was higher than 100 per cent of eligible voters.
He's now at work collecting formal statements, or affidavits, on alleged irregularities.
Harrison said his campaign did not have enough people to have scrutineers at all voting places.
Merasty said he has not heard any details of the allegations and will not be able to comment until he knows more.
According to the rules, a candidate can apply to the courts for a supervised recount if he or she believes the tally was not correct.
People can also ask Elections Canada officials to conduct a formal inquiry of how a vote took place.
Snafu delays Nunavut election results - Jan 24 2006
Some sloppy fax work by local election officials led to a sleepless night for Nunavut's chief returning officer.
Ranbir Hundal says polling in most locations went smoothly, though he had some problems with Sanikiluaq and Taloyoak.
Hundal says deputy returning officers in both communities tried to fax their poll results in, but the fax didn't come through to his office in Iqaluit.
"The poll was closed right on time, everything went on very well," he says. "The counting was done, the only thing they didn't do was fax the result. So we tried to get hold of the people but it was pretty late, because the poll closed at 9:30 and the people went home. So that's why there was a gap."
That "gap" resulted in Nunavut being one of the last ridings to report results in the country.
Despite not having the final results, Elections Canada declared Liberal Nancy Karetak-Lindell the winner in the early hours of Tuesday morning, because the votes from the two polls wouldn't have changed the results.
Karetak-Lindell won the riding with 3,683 votes, while David Aglukark Sr. of the Conservatives came in second with 2,692.
Actress Tina Keeper wins Churchill for Liberals - Jan 24 2006
Liberal Tina Keeper sprinted across the finish line in first place in Churchill Monday night, ending a long, three-way race for the northern riding's seat.
The fight between Keeper and rookie NDP candidate Niki Ashton was too close to call for several hours as polling numbers rolled in, but in the end, a final push saw Keeper take the seat by just over 3,000 votes.
The incumbent in the riding, Bev Desjarlais, was elected as a New Democrat in 2004 but quit the party this fall. She ran as an Independent this time around, finishing in third place about 2,800 votes behind Ashton.
Early in the evening, Ashton appeared to have a strong lead in the race, but as the night wore on, Keeper gradually caught up and then passed Ashton as the vote counts came in from remote aboriginal communities.
Keeper, a Gemini Award-winning actress who played a police officer in the 1990s television show North of 60, said she tried not to let the early results get her down, recalling the 1993 race in which Elijah Harper became the riding's Liberal MP.
"I think that when Elijah ran that another candidate had been declared, and in fact when those last polls came in, that's where Elijah won the riding. So I knew that in this riding … not to get too excited," she said.
Keeper, a member of the Norway House First Nation, said that as an aboriginal MP, she'll work hard to ensure Ottawa doesn't forget about aboriginal issues such as treaty rights.
Ashton, 23, was buoyed by the hard work of her supporters. She said she may one day try to run again for the NDP.
"So many people worked very, very hard, gave up so much time, so many sacrifices and so many people came out in support," said Ashton, daughter of Manitoba MLA Steve Ashton.
"We've taken the high road from beginning to end, and that's the way I'm going to keep it."
Unseated incumbent Bev Desjarlais didn't let her loss get her down, even visiting Keeper's campaign headquarters to give her rival a hug and a congratulatory message.
"There's nothing wrong with being a good sport when there's been a good, clean fight in place," Desjarlais said. "We were up-front and honest with each other through the whole election process."
Desjarlais, who represented the area for eight years, said she felt she had accomplished a lot for the NDP in the province's largest riding. Desjarlais left the party shortly after rejecting the party line in the House of Commons by voting against same-sex marriage.
Desjarlais said she's planning to spend more time with her family, and she has not yet considered taking another run at politics.