The push to help Manitoba newcomers vote in the federal election

Community members raise awareness for newcomers' voting rights in Winnipeg's Central Park (Source: CTV News/Scott Anderson)

Multiple community organizations are encouraging Winnipeg’s immigrant and refugee population to exercise their right to vote.

“Got citizenship? Go vote!” was the call to action on Thursday in Winnipeg’s Central Park.

The Ethnocultural Council of Manitoba – Stronger Together, Manitoba Association of Newcomer Serving Organizations, Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba, and Immigration Partnership Winnipeg hosted the afternoon event.

Organizers are hoping to reach newcomers – who have Canadian citizenship and are 18 or older – and encourage them to vote in the upcoming federal election.

“This event is meant to mobilize people with newcomer and refugee backgrounds, and show them how to exercise their right to vote,” said event organizer Reuben Garang.

Garang told CTV News they’re translating information like polling locations and voting procedures into several different languages, and filming multilingual videos that explain the process to newcomers in a way they’ll best understand.

“You have a right to vote, here is the information and this is how you do it,” he explained. “And then you get to decide who to vote for.”

Garang said Canada’s democratic process could be intimidating for some newcomers.

“Lots of immigrants and refugees are used to different voting systems and have much different voting experiences from their home countries,” Garang said.

Roselyn Advincula moved to Canada in 2008 and gained citizenship in March 2021. The federal election marks her first opportunity to vote in Canada.

“Back home, there are differences to the democratic process,” Advincula explained to CTV News. “I remember you have to vote for the president, vice-president, senator, those kinds of things. Here in Canada, you have to vote for parties.”

Advincula said she is excited and feels privileged to have the right to vote in Canada.

“In the coming election, I will vote because I need to have my voice and see changes too,” she said. “And that affects our family, our future.”

She said election issues like immigration, education, and health-care are part of newcomers’ daily lives and hopes other members of the community get out and vote.

“Let’s make that difference. Be that agent of change.”