Dozens of people with the Ethnocultural Council of Manitoba came together in Central Park in Winnipeg on Thursday to persuade new Canadians to cast a ballot in the upcoming federal election.
To do that, there are a number of challenges that need to be faced, said Luladei Abdi Hassen.
She said some newcomers might have misconceptions about voting. Others might be intimidated by the unfamiliar process or not be used to voting because they either weren’t allowed to or had their access restricted back home.
“It’s not a reality in many countries back home,” said Abdi Hassen. “Because of war, of dictatorship, there isn’t really a choice.”
Having worked with newcomer communities, and belonging to the Ethiopian community herself, Abdi Hassen said it was important for her to participate in the event.
“Being here and being able to research the platforms, learn about different political parties, learn about what we want and being able to go out and vote is really a blessing,” she said.
Some new Canadians might just not have the right information needed to get to the polls, said Reuben Garang.
He said even after getting Canadian citizenship, some have other pressing things going on and might not know about a looming election.
“When they arrive here, they have other priorities, right? And so you don’t see the right of voting as important,” said Garang. “Education is part of the work that we do to give people the right information.”
Roselyn Advincula is a Canadian citizen — she waited 13 years for it — and she can’t wait to finally cast her ballot in a Canadian federal election.
The anticipation reminds her of election time in the Philippines.
“Election day is very huge, and it’s like a holiday, it’s like a feast, so many people are there,” Advincula said. “Also, I felt emotional because I felt that after 13 long years, I can now participate and vote in this coming election, so mixed emotions.”
Members of the Ethnocultural Council of Manitoba repeated messages in 11 languages in Central Park encouraging those who stopped by to vote.
Each one of those messages was filmed and will end up on social media in hopes that it reaches new Canadians and gives them a nudge to make their voices heard on election day.
Canadians head to the polls on Monday, Sept. 20.
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