Wab Kinew made history on Tuesday, Oct. 3, as he was elected to become Canada’s Manitoba province’s first-ever First Nations premier.
41-year-old Kinew, who is the son of an Anishinaabe chief in Ontario, has led the left-wing New Democratic Party since 2017. Before that, he was a former rapper, broadcast journalist and university administrator.
According to unofficial results, his party won 34 seats out of 57 in the elections, securing a majority government in Manitoba, which is Canada’s fifth most populous province and has the highest proportion of Indigenous people in the country.
He succeeded Heather Stefanson, Manitoba’s first woman premier, who also stepped down as leader of Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative Party since the historic vote.
Following his victory, Kinew delivered a speech in Winnipeg to inspire the Indigenous youth. “My life became immeasurably better when I stopped making excuses and I started looking for a reason,” he said. “And I found that reason in our family, I found that reason in our community. And I found that reason in our province and country.”
In his speech, he also reaffirmed his upcoming agenda, which will focus on healthcare and social housing.
“When my father was a young man, he was not allowed to vote. And today I have the honor to ask the people in this province to vote for our team,” he said, according to Reuters. “That is a testament to our province and country moving forward. Long way to go, but you cannot tell me that we haven’t made progress.”
Canada’s three Indigenous groups, including The First Nations, represent around 5% of the national population and were only granted the right to vote in 1960.