On August 22, one of the most outspoken activists in Vancouver officially announced that she was seeking a nomination with the left-leaning Coalition of Progressive Electors.
Parks and green space are a passion for Jamie Lee Hamilton, a long-time advocate for the rights of sex workers and LGBT people who joined the city's first gay-pride march during the ’70s.
However, when COPE members meet at the Japanese Hall (487 Alexander Street at Jackson Avenue) on Sunday (September 7) to pick their candidates for the fall municipal election, Hamilton will not be there to stand for a slot on the party’s park board slate.
Hamilton resigned today (September 5) as a COPE member.
According to Hamilton, she has no choice but to leave because a faction within COPE called the Left Front is intent on preventing her from getting a nomination.
COPE’s policy mandates that one spot on each of its slates for council, school board, and park board is reserved for aboriginal candidates.
Hamilton is aboriginal, and she was hoping that she could win one of the spots allocated by COPE for Native people.
However, Hamilton claimed that the Left Front plans to run two aboriginal candidates against her. These two candidates will supposedly come from the tent city that homeless people have established at Oppenheimer Park.
According to Hamilton, she appears to have earned the ire of the Left Front after she spoke out about the relocation of this year’s Powell Street Festival, which celebrated Japanese Canadian art and culture, from Oppenheimer Park because of the tent city on the park’s grounds.
In an interview with Georgia Straight editor Charlie Smith in July, Hamilton said that the festival’s relocation troubled her because of how her colleagues at COPE have supported the homeless protest.
“Why would that issue trump another community’s history of welcoming everyone to celebrate together as allies, as communities in solidarity, as friends?” Hamilton asked in that interview.
In between sobs, Hamilton today (September 4) told the Straight by phone that she has heard from a COPE insider of talk from the Left Front to the effect that “Jamie Lee does not look like a Native Indian because her skin is white”.
“My mother was a long-time aboriginal activist in the city, and just to have that used against me that way is really, really awful,” Hamilton said.
Nathan Crompton of the Left Front told the Straight by phone that his group is endorsing candidates seeking COPE nominations. According to Crompton, Hamilton is not one of them.
Crompton said that the Left Front is supporting candidates who identify closely with its policies.
As to Hamilton’s claim that she’s not considered Native enough because of her white skin, Crompton said: “We never had that conversation.”