APTN National News
A First Nation woman running for councillor says there isn’t enough Indigenous representation on the Calgary city council.
And Michelle Robinson says that’s why, after years of community work, she’s running for city councillor.
She’s also the first, First Nations woman to run for a seat on the council.
“If I can be the first status, I guess we’d be breaking a barrier for the first time,” she said. “I never ever thought I’d be running.
“But I want to advocate for our communities in a different capacity and I want to bring some positive change with that.”
Robinson is a member of the Yellowknife Dene and was born and raised in Calgary.
She’s very well known in her home city.
Robinson is the chair of the Indigenous People’s Commission in Alberta, and a board member for many community groups including Calgary’s Coalition of People of Colour, and the city’s Sister’s in Spirit committee.
And she was outspoken about the lack (none) of Indigenous peoples on the city’s board that approves public art after a controversial exhibit when up.
Now she said she wants to do all of this on a larger scale.
Robinson is a candidate for Calgary city council in Ward 10 – an area of lower income with one of the highest populations of Indigenous peoples in the city.
“We have missing and murdered women and girls and two-spirit,” she said. “I’ve done vigils in our area. There’s another gap that needs closing of Indigenous people and our needs.
“It’s not just a federal issue, it’s a local issue and community issue.”
According to Robinson, her main goals are reducing crime and bringing more Indigenous inclusion.
“Calgary hasn’t had much of an Indigenous lens on issues. I think that we can start having more Indigenous inclusion in this city,” she said.
“There’s so many of us that live in the city, but we don’t feel part of the community all the time.”
She told APTN campaigning hasn’t been easy.
Robinson said the Calgary city council is lacking female leadership – and breaking that barrier while also being a voice for the urban Indigenous population has raised some tension.
“I’ve had people tell me because I’m a woman, that doesn’t qualify me,” she said. “Somebody called me a Joseph Boyden. “I had other people say ‘you have no right to speak for all Indigenous’ (peoples).”
“But you just roll with the punches.”
She said negativity has never stopped Robinson and that she’s already made a huge impact in her community.
“A lot of people don’t see Indigenous people as Calgarians. That bridge has to come together, that gap has to close,” she said.
Election day is on October 16. She said whether or not she becomes the representative of Ward 10 on Calgary city council won’t stop her from continuing to make a change.