Coalition of Progressive Electors running three indigenous female candidates

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      The Coalition of Progressive Electors will have three indigenous women on the ballot for this year’s municipal election, a move that council candidate Audrey Siegl says is “making history”.

      At a news conference at Crab Park in the Downtown Eastside today (October 10), Siegl and COPE school board candidate Diana Day said some of the issues they hope to tackle as municipal politicians include affordable housing and anti-racism initiatives in schools.

      “What matters to me most, what my campaign is based on, is homes now,” said Siegl. “Safe, clean, affordable homes for all.”

      Siegl was involved with the tent city in Oppenheimer Park aimed at drawing attention to housing conditions. She also worked with Musqueam community members to protect a Marpole Midden site from development and was an organizer with the Idle No More movement.

      Day, who has been involved with Vancouver parent advisory councils since 2002, said she’d like to see an anti-bullying component incorporated into the school curriculum for students of all ages.

      “It’s really important we teach parents, students, staff all about anti-racism and standing up for one another,” she said.

      A third female indigenous candidate, Cease Wyss, is running for park board with COPE. Wyss is an ethnobotanist, artist, and food security activist who has worked with the Vancouver park board as a programmer, and she has also served on the Vancouver Food Policy Council.

      Some of the other issues that will be included in the candidates’ campaigns include violence against aboriginal women.

      “This has affected all the Native women that I know,” Siegl said.

      “This is a very personal issue that touches my heart, because it’s changed my life, and it’s made me strong, watching the women around me be strong, to carry on and to keep moving forward.”

      Day indicated she will also advocate for cultural awareness to be included in the school curriculum.

      “We’re surrounded by history, we’re surrounded by community members who are happy to carry the history,” she said.

      “We need to be able to have an opportunity to have these teachings brought in to the school system, to have not only the students, but also the parents and also the staff know about our people, who we are, what our culture is, and also our own children as well. Some of our children are born and raised in the urban environment now and don’t have connection to their community.”

      As part of COPE’s new equity policy, it reserved a seat on its council, park, and school board slates for an indigenous candidate.

      According to the party, the three candidates would be the first indigenous women to hold municipal office in Vancouver if elected.




      Oct 10, 2014 at 4:57pm

      I wish all QUALIFIED candidates well in the coming election. But I will vote for no one just because they are "indigenous, female, etc.". Seems like COPE chose these three because they are "indigenous females". You slam other parties for electing people just because they are white males, then you come up with this bullsh*t. Basically, COPE is saying that there might have been more qualified people around, but since they weren't "indigenous females", they were discarded. Quotas suck regardless of who is imposing them.

      Blah is right

      Oct 10, 2014 at 5:20pm

      You read about these inspiring women and all you can say is that? White dudes ALWAYS dominate political positions in Canada. You are ignoring context and history and justice in your pathetic little remark.

      Connie Hubbs

      Oct 10, 2014 at 5:44pm

      Great to see three passionate,articulate and competent First Nations women participating in this election as candidates with COPE.

      Quick Question

      Oct 10, 2014 at 6:54pm

      What role, exactly, does COPE think the city plays in setting education policy? Last time I checked, that wasn't a municipal file.

      Most communities share their culture through engagement and outside activities. I can't imagine what the reaction would be if the Croatian community decided that their center wasn't enough and their culture needed to be maintained through the schools.

      I would much rather vote for a candidate that understands their files scope.


      Oct 10, 2014 at 7:54pm

      "blahs" anonymous comments are sad. Sad because they're not taking responsibilty for their perspective, and sad because their perspective is ignorant and violent.

      COPE's policy does not shortchange a hypothetical white male candidate with an incredible resume for an indigenous candidate without an incredible resume. Each of these candidates has a great history in activism, social justice, and community work. They're all incrediby QUALIFIED candidates by their own merit, and to say that they've been chosen "just" for their race is disengenous. There are tens of thousands of first nations people who are not running with COPE, and the difference between these candidates and those who are not running is these qualifications. The modifier is the qualifications, not the race.

      What COPE's policy does is encourage and assure that indigenous candidates are running for office, because historically they have not. We can easily imagine what kinds of factors might disencourage political participation for indiginous people. To start: colonial occupation, the willful and conscious attempt to destroy their culture by the occupiers for generations (in the words of Duncan Campbell Scott "take the indian out of the indian"), and ongoing racism by the occupiers? We will not always need quotas to assure that talented, qualified people from a diversity of backgrounds feel empowered to run for office and represent themselves and their community, but in a world where people like "blah" are posting anonymous disparaging comments like that (and trust me, it gets far worse in comments section if you care to poke around any article on any canadian news site), I will support efforts to get brilliant and talented women like these into office.

      Blah, your opinion is bad and you should feel bad.


      Oct 10, 2014 at 8:58pm

      So does COPE want a gold medal now?


      Oct 11, 2014 at 1:53am

      Brave of them to run three Earthlings.

      Sam George

      Oct 11, 2014 at 1:53am

      As long as they're taxpayers they should be able to run for office. Being qualified is another matter.


      Oct 11, 2014 at 7:58am

      I'm afraid that I agree with Blah. After all, the headline doesn't stress their competence, their political positions, or anything else. The headline is all about their ethnicity.

      And as much as you may want to reject blah (he?) raises an interesting question--what role should identity have in politics? Has Obama been a better president because he's black? Was Indira Ghandi a better PM of India because she was female? Sorry, but the evidence just isn't there.

      The message that this headline sends is simple--for COPE, the only defining issues that matter are sexism and racism. That seems a rather narrow and crabbed perspective upon which to build a campaign.

      This is part of what makes me sad about living in Vancouver. There are NO legitimate left wing parties, if by leftism we mean support for education, the arts, culture, and a fundamental opposition to resource industries among the monied elite.