2 black MLAs make history with elections to Manitoba Legislature

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Manitoba voters have elected the first black MLAs to the province’s legislature, CBC News projects.

Uzoma Asagwara has won the Union Station seat for the NDP and Jamie Moses has won the St. Vital seat for the party, according to CBC News projections.

The NDP historically takes core Winnipeg seats, and with 21 out of 56 polls reporting, Union Station’s Asagwara became the first queer black person to win a seat.

With 19 out of 42 seats reporting, Moses is projected to take St. Vital.

The first black Winnipeg city councillor was pleased for the thousands of immigrants and refugees who may feel like they now see themselves represented in the Manitoba Legislature.

“It’s an opportunity for newcomers to see themselves in government,”​ ​​said Markus Chambers, city councillor for St. Norbert Seine River.

Neither political scientists or the parties themselves could recall a black MLA ever being elected in Manitoba, CBC News was told.

Tuesday’s provincial election saw a more diverse set of candidates than past years, with the Progressive Conservatives and NDP nominating the largest number of Indigenous candidates in recent history and all three of the largest parties nominating Indo-Canadian candidates in two northwest Winnipeg ridings.

Watch Uzoma Asagwara react:

Uzoma Asagwara wins Union Station for the NDP, becoming the first black queer MLA elected in Manitoba history. 1:51

Among the candidates for the province’s 57 seats, the Liberals ran 14 people of colour this year, the NDP 18 and the Tories six. The Green Party of Manitoba told CBC it does not track demographics.

All three major parties also ran Indo-Canadian candidates in the Winnipeg ridings of Burrows and The Maples — believed to be another first in Manitoba provincial politics.

The New Democrats ran 10 Indigenous candidates, while the PCs and Liberals each nominated seven Indigenous candidates.

All three candidates running in the riding of Keewatinook — where more than 90 per cent of the population identifies as First Nations, Métis or Inuit — were members of First Nations.

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. kicked off a “get out the vote” drive in late August. The political advocacy group, which represents 21 First Nations in Manitoba, encouraged Indigenous people to mark a ballot in both Tuesday’s provincial election and the upcoming federal election.

“I want to remind First Nations citizens that we live in a democratic society. I encourage First Nations people to get involved in both elections,” Grand Chief Garrison Settee said in a late-August press release. “Voting is a free opportunity to make a difference.”

The NDP ran 24 female candidates in the province’s 57 ridings, the Tories 22 and the Liberals 19.

The Tories also ran their first openly gay candidate in this year’s election. At least seven candidates for each of the Liberals and NDP also identified as LGBT.

In south Winnipeg’s Fort Richmond riding, Liberal candidate Tanjit Nagra, 23, also looked to make history as the province’s youngest MLA. Cindy Lamoureux, 27, previously set the record when she was elected in 2016 at age 24.