July 14th, 2024

‘One Manitoba’: Wab Kinew sworn in as Manitoba premier along with new NDP cabinet

By Steve Lambert and Brittany Hobson, The Canadian Press on October 18, 2023.

Manitoba's new premier, Wab Kinew, is scheduled to be sworn in today and appoint his cabinet. Kinew walks to the premier's office in Winnipeg, Thursday, Oct. 5, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/David Lipnowski

WINNIPEG – Manitoba’s new premier, Wab Kinew, and his cabinet have been sworn in with a ceremony that featured traditional Indigenous music and dancing.

He led the New Democrats to victory on Oct. 3 and defeated the Progressive Conservatives, who had been in power for seven years.

“Today is a new day in our province,” Kinew told those gathered at The Leaf, a botanical attraction in Winnipeg.

“The people of this province have come together to declare that we are one people, one Manitoba, who are going to build one future together.”

Kinew becomes the first First Nations premier of a Canadian province and his 15-member cabinet includes, for the first time in Manitoba, First Nations women.

“Manitoba now has a Jewish lieutenant-governor, an Anishinaabe premier, a gender-balanced cabinet and a government MLA team that represents many walks of life from so many regions of this great province,” he said.

The NDP captured 34 of the 57 legislature seats on election night, and Kinew had many veteran politicians and rookies from which to pick his cabinet.

Uzoma Asagwara, a former psychiatric nurse who was the NDP health critic in Opposition, is the minister of health, seniors and long-term care and the deputy premier.

Two First Nations women have been named to cabinet: Nahanni Fontaine, the party’s house leader who is serving her third term and is now the minister of families; and Bernadette Smith, who is minister of housing, addiction and homelessness.

A New Democrat with previous cabinet experience, Ron Kostyshyn, has become the agriculture minister for the second time. He had the same portfolio under former premier Greg Selinger before losing his seat in 2016.

Adrien Sala, who served as NDP finance critic, is also serving a second term and is now the minister of finance.

The ceremony started off with an opening prayer by the chief of the Red Sucker Lake First Nation and the lighting of the Qulliq, a traditional oil lamp used by Inuit. That was followed by the Norman Chief Memorial Dancers performing the Red River Jig, a traditional M├ętis dance accompanied by a fiddle tune, a land acknowledgment by the chief of Long Plain First Nation, and speeches from some prominent Indigenous people.

Murray Sinclair, a former judge and chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, said he was honoured to congratulate Kinew.

“It really is Manitoba’s true act of reconciliation, and I want you to think of it that way. I want you to think of the fact that we are now entering a new phase,” Sinclair said to applause from the crowd.

“That phase ultimately is going to lead to a relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in which we are able to show true respect to all of those who are here and all of those who come here.

“For too long now, the situation and oppression that has occurred in this province has resulted in our people being belittled, feeling belittled and feeling denied of their rights. That, I believe, is all going to change.”

Some of the others in attendance at Wednesday’s ceremony included Winnipeg Mayor Scott Gillingham, Canadian actor Adam Beach and Grand Chief Jerry Daniels of the Southern Chiefs’ Organization, which represents 34 Anishnaabe and Dakota First Nations in southern Manitoba.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 18, 2023.

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