moved for leave to introduce Bill C-309, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (Indigenous languages).
Madam Speaker. Today, I am introducing my bill to get indigenous languages on the ballot. Indigenous languages, democracy and reducing barriers to voting are all important to all members of the House, and I look forward to everyone's support in this initiative.
During colonization, the languages of these lands were replaced by settler languages. Indigenous peoples in Canada have always faced barriers in participation in politics. In the last election, voter turnout for indigenous peoples living on reserves was 51.8%. In Nunavut, which is almost entirely indigenous, voter turnout was under 50%, well below the Canadian average of 76% voter turnout.
The federal government's report in PROC recognized that indigenous peoples, especially elders, would face significant barriers to voting in a COVID election. How can it be that in Nunavut, where 46% of voters' first language is Inuktitut or Inuinnaqtun, ballots are only in English and French. Imagine if the voters in Quebec or Alberta could not vote in English or French. This is the situation that many constituents in Nunavut face every federal election.
It is profoundly important to us, the indigenous peoples of these lands, to have what we deserve. We need to seize this COVID election as an opportunity to put our indigenous languages where they belong: on Elections Canada ballots beside English and French. This bill asks the federal government to put reconciliation on the ballot. Recognizing the rights of indigenous peoples to vote in their languages is one small step in the right direction.
I am urging the federal government and all members of the House to come together and ensure that we use every available opportunity to immediately right this wrong in the spirit of true reconciliation. My name may not be on the ballot in this upcoming election, but I want indigenous languages to be.
(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)