A third candidate has announced her intention to become Churchill-Keewatinook Aski’s Member of Parliament in the Sept. 20 federal election.
Shirley Robinson, a Cross Lake band councillor, announced that she will run as the Liberal party’s candidate in the riding during the Aug. 18 Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) general assembly in Norway House Cree Nation.
“What we need is a strong voice from a native speaker inside the halls of influence,” Robinson told the gathering of chiefs, who are electing their grand chief for the next three years Wednesday. "We need an ininiw voice in there. I am eager and ready to be your voice.”
Robinson appealed to the chiefs and members of the First Nations they lead for unity as she attempts to unseat current NDP MP Niki Ashton, who has represented the riding in Parliament since 2008.
“We form the majority in this riding,” she said. “If every person voted, we could deliver a result in our riding that will serve our needs. We also must vote together so that we can be inside the house.”
A vote for her, Robinson said, represents an opportunity for the riding to have an MP who is part of the governing party for the first time since the early 1990s.
“Chiefs, you know how frustrating it can be to access extra dollars when we lack representation in the house,” she said. “Sitting across the floor from government year after year does nothing to advance our dreams as Churchill-Keewatoinook Aski communities, whether it’s reserves or municipalities. The Liberal government has delivered in our region already with a health centre in Cross Lake and a hospital project in Norway House, with new schools in fly-in reserves. They have increased our education budgets and our monthly child care subsidies and the pandemic supports, just to name a few, and there will be more for us if a majority Liberal government is achieved on election day."
Robinson also touted her true northern roots, unlike some candidates who have run for the party in the past in recent elections.
“I was born in the north, raised in the north, worked in the north, lived in the north and I reside on the Cross Lake reserve,” she said. “I am very familiar with the north, aware of the north’s challenges and very familiar with reserve and Indigenous issues.”
Sending her to Ottawa would give the riding’s Indigenous majority a better chance to be heard than it has had in the past, Robinson said.
“It is time to give ourselves a voice, to return a voice that is inherently ours, a voice that eluded our ancestors, a voice that wasn’t there when our loved ones were herded into residential schools, a voice that will speak up loudly, not only for our nations but a true homegrown voice that will speak for all citizens in this riding, including the Métis nation," she said. "Let us imitate a transformative change in our riding where hope and prosperity could be maintained under a red Liberal majority government. I ask you to make history with me in the Churchill-Keewatinook Aski riding on Sept. 20. Let’s make history happen.”
Ashton will once agin represent the NDP in the riding in the upcoming election, while Charlotte Larocque announced in May that she would be the district’s candidate for the Conservatives.
Candidate nomination for the upcoming election closes Aug. 30.