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Wab Kinew

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Wab Kinew

Leader of the Opposition in Manitoba
Assumed office
September 16, 2017
Preceded byFlor Marcelino
Leader of the Manitoba New Democratic Party
Assumed office
September 16, 2017
Preceded byFlor Marcelino (interim)
Member of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba
Assumed office
April 19, 2016
Preceded byJennifer Howard
ConstituencyFort Rouge
Personal details
Wabanakwut Kinew

(1981-12-31) December 31, 1981 (age 37)
Kenora, Ontario
Political partyNew Democratic
Lisa Monkman (m. 2014)
Alma materUniversity of Manitoba
OccupationBroadcaster, university administrator, musician

Wabanakwut Kinew MLA (born December 31, 1981),[2] better known as Wab Kinew, is the Leader of the Manitoba New Democratic Party and Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba.

Before entering politics, he was a musician, broadcaster and university administrator, best known as a host of programming on CBC Radio and CBC Television.[3]


Originally from the Onigaming First Nation in Northwestern Ontario, he is the son of Tobasonakwut Kinew,[2] a former local and regional chief and a professor of indigenous governance at the University of Winnipeg, and Kathi Avery Kinew, a policy analyst.[4] Kinew moved to suburban Winnipeg with his parents in childhood and attended Collège Béliveau,[5] a French immersion school, and vacationed in Onigaming in the summers.[4] He graduated from the University of Winnipeg Collegiate[5] which Kinew said in a 2014 interview was "a private high school, one of the best in Winnipeg."[6] Kinew earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from the University of Manitoba.[5]


Kinew began working in broadcasting after the Winnipeg Free Press published a letter to the editor which he had written about Team Canada hockey, and a local CBC Radio producer contacted him to express interest in creating and airing a documentary feature on the topic.[2]

Kinew has been a reporter and host for the CBC's radio and television operations,[7] including the weekly arts magazine show The 204 in Winnipeg and the national documentary series 8th Fire in 2012.[3] He is also a host of the documentary program Fault Lines on Al Jazeera America.[8]

In 2014, he appeared as a panelist on CBC Radio's Canada Reads, defending Joseph Boyden's novel The Orenda.[9] The novel won the competition.

Kinew was a guest host of Q for two weeks in December 2014,[10] and moderated the 2015 edition of Canada Reads.[11]


After being a member of the hip-hop groups Slangblossom and the Dead Indians[12] in the mid 2000s, Kinew released his debut individual CD as a rapper, Live by the Drum, in 2009.[7] The CD won an Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Award for Best Rap/Hip-Hop CD.[13] His second CD, Mide-Sun, followed in 2010.[14]


Year Album details Awards
2009 Live By the Drum
  • Released: January 24, 2009
Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Award
2010 Mide-Sun
  • Released: September 4, 2010

University administration[edit]

In 2011, the University of Winnipeg named Kinew its first director of indigenous inclusion.[13] In 2014, Kinew was appointed acting associate vice-president of Indigenous Affairs after Jennifer Rattray resigned the position.[2] He is also an honorary witness for the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission.[2]

On October 25, 2014, Kinew received an honorary doctorate degree from Cape Breton University.[15]


He considered running for the leadership of the Assembly of First Nations in its 2014 leadership election,[16] but decided not to mount a campaign as he was newly married in August and felt it was not the right time to be away from home for an extended period.[2]

In 2016, he was announced as a Manitoba New Democratic Party candidate for Fort Rouge in the 2016 provincial election.[17] During the final days of the campaign, misogynistic and anti-gay tweets and other social media comments were discovered by media on Kinew's Twitter feed. This created a scandal with calls for the New Democratic Party to drop Kinew from the ballots.[18][19] Kinew apologized for his past comments.

On April 19, 2016, Kinew defeated Manitoba Liberal leader Rana Bokhari in the riding of Fort Rouge.[20] He was subsequently named the NDP's spokesperson for reconciliation and critic for education, advanced learning, and training as well as housing and community development.[21]

Kinew ran for leadership of the Manitoba NDP in 2017 and was elected leader at the convention of September 16, defeating the only other candidate, former cabinet minister Steve Ashton, by a margin of three to one.


Kinew has written two books, a personal memoir and a children's book, which were published by Penguin Canada.

The memoir, The Reason You Walk, chronicles the year 2012, during which Kinew strove to reconnect with the indigenous man who raised him. The reviewer for The Globe and Mail commented: "the undeniable significance of The Reason You Walk's message, and the fact that the book holds so much for both aboriginal and non-aboriginal readers, makes it a must-read. This is not just a memoir, it's a meditation on the purpose of living."

In 2018, Kinew's children's book Go Show the World: A Celebration of Indigenous Heroes about notable figures in First Nations history, including John Herrington, Sacagawea, Carey Price, and Crazy Horse. He was inspired to write the stories of such people by Barack Obama's Of Thee I Sing, and K’naan’s song Take a Minute.[22]

Personal life[edit]

Kinew recounts that he "experienced racially motivated assaults by adults" during his time growing up in suburban Winnipeg.[4] In 2003, Kinew was convicted of impaired driving.[4] Kinew has since quit drinking and in 2014 applied for a pardon from the Canadian government, which was granted by the Parole Board of Canada in 2016. The Parole Board ruling removed from the Canadian Police Information Centre database references to his convictions on assaulting a taxi driver, a Driving Under the Influence conviction for refusing a breathalyzer sample, and two breaches of court orders.[23] In the spring of 2003 he was also charged with two counts of domestic assault related to allegations that he threw his then-girlfriend across a room during an argument. The charges were subsequently stayed. Kinew denies the allegations.[24]

Kinew is married to Lisa, a family physician who practises medicine at an inner-city clinic,[5] and has two sons from a previous relationship.[4]


  1. ^ Agnes Welch, Mary (2017). "Wab Kinew". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved September 19, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Wab Kinew: behind the voice of CBC’s Q guest host". Toronto Star, December 15, 2014.
  3. ^ a b "CBC series 8th Fire aims to dispel native stereotypes". Toronto Star, January 17, 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d e "The accidental journalist: Wab Kinew emerges as contender to host Q". The Globe and Mail, December 19, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d "Kinew might be in queue to host Q: Guest spot last month piqued his interest" Winnipeg Free Press, January 9, 2015.
  6. ^ "Wab Kinew discusses education at Thunder Bay orientation". Wawatay News, September 18, 2014.
  7. ^ a b "Aboriginal rapper, CBC host has plenty to say". Winnipeg Free Press, January 24, 2009.
  8. ^ "Canadian journalists Ali Velshi, Wab Kinew join Al Jazeera America". The Canadian Journalism Project, April 9, 2013.
  9. ^ "Joseph Boyden's novel The Orenda wins CBC's Canada Reads contest". Edmonton Journal, March 6, 2014.
  10. ^ "CBC ponders new name for ‘Q’ in light of Jian Ghomeshi scandal". CityNews, November 12, 2014.
  11. ^ "Canada Reads 2015: One book to break barriers". CBC Books, November 19, 2014.
  12. ^ "Dead Indians website - music page". Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  13. ^ a b "UWinnipeg names first Director of Indigenous Inclusion". University of Winnipeg, October 4, 2012.
  14. ^ Manitowapow: Aboriginal Writings from the Land of Water. Portage & Main Press, 2013. ISBN 978-1-55379-307-6. p. 384.
  15. ^ David Akin, "Wab Kinew: “This country is true. This country is strong. This country is free.”"., October 29, 2014.
  16. ^ "Wab Kinew eyes run for Assembly of First Nations chief". CBC News, May 20, 2014.
  17. ^ "Wab Kinew NDP’s candidate in Fort Rouge". Winnipeg Free Press, February 2, 2016.
  18. ^ "The Liberals say Kinew's social media comments, which surfaced earlier this week, are demeaning to women, gays and lesbians". Toronto Star. 2016-03-11. ISSN 0319-0781. Retrieved 2016-03-14.
  19. ^ "Selinger stands by Kinew". Sault Star. Retrieved 2016-03-14.
  20. ^ "Wab Kinew beats out Liberal leader Rana Bokhari to win in Fort Rouge". Global Manitoba, April 20, 2016.
  21. ^ "MLA's appointed as critics". Winnipeg Free Press, May 16, 2016.
  22. ^ "Wab Kinew celebrates Indigenous heroes with new children's book". The Whig Standard. 2018-09-21. Retrieved 2018-09-24.
  23. ^
  24. ^ Woman at centre of Wab Kinew domestic assault allegations says she was thrown

External links[edit]