When Sol Mamakwa rises to speak in the Ontario Legislature, the heckling stops. The first-term New Democrat from the Northern Ontario riding of Kiiwetinoong, which is two-thirds Indigenous, has an innate ability to capture the attention of the usually raucous room.
And that includes Premier Doug Ford. Mr. Mamakwa recently approached Mr. Ford after Question Period to ask the Premier to meet with three First Nations chiefs visiting from Northern Ontario. To his surprise, Mr. Ford agreed.
“He said, ‘Bring them to my office after Question Period.’ So we did that,” Mr. Mamakwa said. “They haven’t had that opportunity since this government came into power.”
As the province’s only MPP hailing from a First Nation (one of three NDP members with Métis or Indigenous heritage), Mr. Mamakwa sees his role as representing those who cannot speak for themselves.
He has drawn attention to the housing crisis at Cat Lake First Nation, youth mental health and Indigenous education. On the door outside of his Queen’s Park office, his name is spelled in Oji-Cree Syllabics, his first language.
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