Elections Manitoba is providing brochures to voters in languages other than French or English for the first time.
The voting information was translated into 10 additional languages — Amharic, Arabic, Hindi, Mandarin, Punjabi, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Tigrinya, and Urdu — and the product unveiled at a news conference Tuesday.
Elections Manitoba partnered with the Ethnocultural Council of Manitoba — Stronger Together and Immigration Partnership Winnipeg to distribute the 15,000 brochures by Sept. 1.
"It's a relatively small cost for what we think will be a very widespread benefit," said Elections Manitoba spokesperson Alison Mitchell. "It's one thing to publish them, it's another thing to make sure they get in the hands of people who can really benefit from them. That's what this partnership is enabling us to do."
The brochures explain who is eligible to vote, how to cast a ballot, and where to vote in the Sept. 10 provincial election. They target new Canadian citizens and other first-time voters in an effort to increase civic engagement among immigrants and refugees.
"It is part of our legislative mandate to provide information and educational material to voters who may experience barriers," Mitchell said, noting Elections Manitoba does some radio advertising in Indigenous languages. "This helps us fulfill that mandate."
The ethnocultural council is distributing the brochures at places of worship, community centres, restaurants, and service providers, said co-ordinator Jennifer Chen.
"What Elections Manitoba has done today is to give new Canadians that feeling of empowerment and the responsibility to do our part for Manitoba," said the Winnipeg School Division trustee. "Many of us come from places where the right to vote is limited or non-existent."
"This is a long-overdue project," added council member Perla Javate. "We are reaching out to our people in a manner they understand.
"We all benefit from people actively participating as members of our society," said Javate, a leader with the Philippine Heritage Council of Manitoba — one of an estimated 80 Filipino organizations in the province. "Elections are important to us. They tell us what kind of governments we have, what kind of province we have."
In 2018, the ethnocultural council worked with Immigration Partnership Winnipeg to create the Got Citizenship? Go Vote! campaign to encourage newcomers to engage in municipal elections.
"I know for many people among the newcomer community, they get their voting card and put it in the garbage because they have no idea (what it is)," said Immigration Partnership Winnipeg director Abdikheir Ahmed, adding the goal is to make voting a tradition.
"Here in Canada, our voice counts."
Carol Sanders’ reporting on newcomers to Canada has made international headlines, earned national recognition but most importantly it’s shared the local stories of the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home.