Park board candidate Trish Kelly hopes to make aboriginal breakthrough in fall election
Trish Kelly hopes to become the first aboriginal person to sit on the Vancouver park board.
The Strathcona resident, who is seeking a nomination from Vision Vancouver, told the Georgia Straight that, though she didn’t face racism growing up, she felt the “legacy” of discrimination in her family.
“I think visibly I represent the other minority aspects of my identity, like being a woman,” Kelly said by phone from Burnaby. “But it’s more an opportunity for me to advocate and be an ally to First Nations and aboriginal people in Vancouver, which is something that I feel strongly about because every time I do that I’m honouring my mother and she passed away five years ago. It was very important to her when she got her Métis status card.”
A member of the Vancouver food policy council since 2007, Kelly noted that it’s possible that Vancouver had aboriginal municipal politicians before Ken Clement—who was first elected to the school board in 2008—but they just didn’t publicly identify themselves as such. According to Kelly, it’s important for her to be “transparent” about her Métis background as well as the fact she identifies as bisexual, queer, and femme.
“I feel that I’m a bridge between two groups,” Kelly said. “I’m Métis and the word Métis means a ‘blend’ or a ‘mix’ in French, and I’m also queer or bisexual. I have to claim those identities, because being femme in everyday society I can be read as just a straight woman, and being Métis I can be read as just white. So I politicize myself by owning these identities, which is part of how I politicize my identity but also part of how I act as another ally to people who are more targeted because of their visible appearance or how they’re read.”
Kelly maintained that, after years of being a “strong ally” to the trans community, she’d like the chance to be more than a “good listener”. If she gains a seat on the park board in the November election, Kelly said, she would see to it that the April report of the city’s trans and gender-variant inclusion working group is implemented.
“The reason that I feel that is so important is because it addresses inclusivity for not just folks that are gender-variant or trans but also just looking at making community centres inclusive for people with disabilities or people who just don’t feel like they fit into social norms of what a person is supposed to look like,” Kelly said. “The work that’s been done is really strong, and I want to support it and make sure that it gets embedded within the park board.”
In separate interviews, the slate’s Naveen Girn, Sammie Jo Rumbaua, and Coree Tull also focused on the importance of inclusivity. Kelly, Rumbaua, and Tull are NDP members, while Girn isn’t a member of a federal or provincial party.
Tull, who works as a communications and outreach assistant for NDP MP Fin Donnelly, told the Straight that she’s passionate about recreational sport and wants to improve field conditions and the booking process for facilities. Identifying as a queer woman, the Kensington resident is a cofounder of the Double Rainbow Dodgeball League and a cochair of the Out in Sports Society.
“For me, it’s about how do we build community and strengthen the health and wellness in our city,” Tull said by phone from Coquitlam. “I think we can do that by increasing the accessibility and availability of our facilities and our programs to community members, as well as on the other side looking at the actual biodiversity and how we can improve the health of our ecosystems and the way that people interact and engage with our environment.”
A member of the city’s public art committee, Girn is a community organizer and cultural researcher who says he stands for “inclusivity and diversity and equality”. He recently curated two museum exhibits on the Komagata Maru incident.
“Parts of the city sometimes feel that they don’t have a say on parks board—the east side of Vancouver, the south side of Vancouver, in particular,” Girn told the Straight by phone from Mount Pleasant, where he lives. “So what I want to do is use my background in consultation and community outreach to bring those diverse voices to the table.”
Rumbaua, who lives in Kensington, works at Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House as a youth settlement worker and a program assistant for WorkBC.
She told the Straight by phone that she has “a lot of experience with relationship-building across the city”.
Graham Anderson, Katherine Day, Catherine Evans, Brent Granby, and Mark Mitchell are also seeking Vision park-board nominations.
At a June 22 nomination meeting, Vision will add four candidates to its park-board slate, which already includes incumbent Trevor Loke.