Policing, social supports major topics at mayoral forum for newcomers

Eight out of eleven mayoral candidates met at a unique forum focusing on issues surrounding newcomers and immigrants Saturday.

Damhat Zagros received his Canadian citizenship two months ago — meaning he can now participate in the upcoming municipal election.

“So this will be my first time voting in my whole life,” said Zagros, “I’ve never voted even back home, and I’m so excited for it.”

Zagros is among the dozens of immigrants who attended the mayoral forum on newcomer issues Saturday afternoon.

The event was put on by Immigration Partnership Winnipeg and other newcomer organizations.

“We want to increase the voter turnout in newcomer communities,” said Erika Frey, a project manager at Immigration Partnership Winnipeg.” Our city is becoming way more diverse. There is projection that 43 per cent of our city is going to be full of newcomers and immigrants.”

Some candidates started by sharing their own experiences of being a newcomer.

“My mom and dad came here in the ’70s and were the first generation to leave Pakistan,” said mayoral candidate Rana Bokhari.

“I moved to Quebec City when I was in the military,” called candidate Robert-Falcon Oulette.” I did not speak the language, and I can tell you how difficult it was to make a way in a culture you had never ever experienced before.”

Major talking points focused on policing, social supports like housing, and opening voting up to permanent residents – topics almost all candidates agreed need more work.

“As mayor, it will be my goal to make sure our systems, departments and city services are welcoming and make sure the transition of all Canadians is easier,” said mayoral candidate Scott Gillingham.

“The unemployment to me was both disturbing and exciting because there are jobs for people to do. We just have to have different business models,” explained Shaun Loney, another mayoral candidate.

“And I would like to anticipate the amount of people we could bring here safely who are no longer going to be able to live safely because of war or pandemics or because of environmental crisis,” noted candidate Glen Murray.

Candidates Chris Clacio, Idris Adelakun and Rick Shone also weighed in, opinions and information voters like Zagros can now take to polls.

“There are some questions that I had in mind and got the answers to,” Zagoris said. “So now I can make my own decision.”

Mayoral candidates Jenny Motkaluk, Kevin Klein, and Don Woodstock were the three candidates who did not attend the forum.

Winnipeggers will cast their ballots on Oct. 26.

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