APTN National News
Martin Heavy Head is 32, a member of the Blood Tribe, studying psychology, philosophy, and political science in University and is one of a number of Indigenous candidates running in Alberta’s upcoming municipal election.
In fact, Heavy Head is the first Indigenous person to run for mayor in Lethbridge, Alberta’s history.
“For children to see, for youth to see, from the reserve, you know you can do this,” said Heavy Head who has lived almost his entire life in Lethbridge. “You can do this, you can run for council, you’re apart of this too.”
Heavy Head was the first Indigenous person to run for city council in 2013.
Losing that election didn’t stop him from running for office again.
Lethbridge sits across the river from the Blood reserve.
About six per cent of the city’s population is Aboriginal.
Heavy Head said there is little to no relationship between the city and reserve.
“There’s this very, very sharp divide between people living on reserve and people living in Lethbridge,” he said. “The only way the city really seems to know about us are through the homeless population – the street people.”
Homelessness and racism are two of Heavy Head’s top priorities.
He said these issues make it difficult for Indigenous people to live in Lethbridge.
“They say Winnipeg is the most racist city in Canada, but they haven’t been to Lethbridge,” he said. “I always say we can win this is they really spent time here”
Crystal Hoof moved to Lethbridge from the Blood reserve.
She said the city needs more Indigenous representation.
“I come through here and I see my people that are stuck in that drama of residential era,” she said. “With someone in the office, they might be able to address these issues so that these other candidates would understand”
But Indigenous candidates aren’t just running in Lethbridge this election.
Taz Bouchier is the first Aboriginal woman to run for mayor in Edmonton.
In Calgary, Michelle Robinson is the first First Nations woman to run for city council.
All three candidates said there is a lack of Aboriginal leadership in Alberta – and want to bring an Aboriginal lens to city issues.
“All these places, cities are facing very similar problems,” said Heavy Head. “There’s been a lack of relationships and there’s been a lack of representation.”
Election day is Oct. 16.