Woman Warriors Newsletter

Indigenous Women in Politics – Part Two

Three Female Candidates Share Their Insights From Running In Municipal & First Nations Politics

Miranda is Cree and a member of Thunderchild First Nation in Treaty Six. She ran in the Edmonton muncipal election for Ward 5 on October 16, 2017. The canidate elected was Sarah Hamiliton. You can view the official election results here.

1) What was your motivation for running?
I think that public office needs to be more representative of the communities they represent. Despite having the second highest Urban Indigenous population in Canada, Edmonton in over 100 years of municipal government has never had an Indigenous woman elected to City Council.

2) Was your family political? Did you receive encouragement or mentorship from a politician? (I’m interested in knowing if female politicians are exposed to politics at a young age and what kinds of mentors you had)
No, my interest in politics is fairly recent but I did spend the last three years preparing. I have always used my energy and voice for change in the community and I see serving in public office as just an extension of that. In 2014, I participated in a mentorship program at the City of Edmonton called “Opening the Potential” where I was mentored by Mayor Don Iveson. Through this experience, I learned more about the demands on an elected official and the skills needed to do the job well.

3) What surprised you the most about campaigning?
I was surprised how engaged people really are in sharing their vision for the city. So many people were excited to be asked for their opinions on what works well and what could be improved, like they had been waiting for someone to come to their door and ask! I enjoyed every conversation, even the challenging ones that helped me hone my communication skills.

4) What are the top three needs you heard from constituents?
The need for accessible representation: residents want their elected officials to listen and be available to respond to their concerns.
Accountability and responsible stewardship of public funds: taxpayers want to know that their representative is making the best decisions with their money, stretching every dollar as much as possible.
Good public transportation options: residents want reliable, convenient transportation options in their neighbourhoods and to move around the city.

5) What advice do you have for indigenous women considering running in politics?
Make an educated decision about whether this is right for you. Consider the demands on your personal time and the commitment that is required. Talk to your contacts and networks to find out who will help you and how they will contribute if you decide to run. Prepare to take care of yourself throughout the campaign – your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs – after the election, your life will continue and you want to be well.

6) Why do you think the gender gap continues to exist in politics?
There are systemic barriers that exist for minorities and for women to fully participate and be taken seriously in the political realm. The biggest barrier is the fundraising requirements to run a successful campaign. I think that funding caps will even the playing field and allow for more diverse candidates to participate and be successful.

7) Would you run again? Or consider mentoring an indigenous candidate to run?
I’m not sure. I am still processing the learning from the campaign and the toll it has taken on my life. I am definitely open to sharing my perspectives with anyone who would be interested in learning more.

*Next week I’ll be featuring Onion Lake Band Councillor and candidate for 4th Vice Chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, Dolores Pahtayken.

Dr Karlee Fellner

Dr. Karlee Fellner on Personal and Collective Medicines & Embracing Diverse Teachings – Part 1

Dr Karlee Fellner

Dr. Karlee Fellner on Personal and Collective Medicines & Embracing Diverse Teachings – Part 2