Winnipeg initiative removes language barriers for newcomer voters

By | October 9, 2019

A new initiative in Winnipeg is removing language barriers in the voting process for newcomers in the upcoming election.

For the past few elections, the ‘Got Citizenship? Go Vote!’ campaign has been working to give newcomers to Canada all the information they need to cast their vote. On Wednesday, the campaign introduced a way to make the process even easier for newcomers by offering videos in their own language.

The campaign is a joint initiative by Immigration Partnership Winnipeg, the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba, and the Ethno-cultural Council of Manitoba – Stronger Together.

Volunteers from these organizations created 13 videos in different languages including Arabic, Mandarin, Punjabi, Swahili, and American Sign Language. Each video provides important voter information to newcomers. 

“When newcomers watch those videos, they see someone they know and trust, and they will feel personally connected to the information,” said Jennifer Chen, public engagement lead with the Ethno-cultural Council of Manitoba. “We want to encourage newcomers to have a voice, and make their voices heard in the election.”

Immigration Partnership Winnipeg said citizens with immigrant or refugee backgrounds make up about 20 per cent of the voting population in Canada. 

The group said while the purpose of the campaign is to remove barriers for newcomers, it also seeks to bring newcomer issues to the attention of federal candidates.