Danielle Paradis explores what makes Edmonton a great city.
Don't expect Edmontonians to be quiet in 2017
Many have compared 2016 to a dumpster fire but the thing about fire is that now we can see what it has lit to flame in 2017.
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In November, I wrote gleefully in this space about a feminist revival in Edmonton. It was after Calgary MLA Sandra Jansen crossed the floor from the PC Party to the NDP, thanks to gendered abuse, but before I knew President Donald Trump was going to be a real thing.
But despite the Trump reality, I still don’t think my optimism will prove a folly.
Indeed, while I’ve heard many compare 2016 to a dumpster fire, the thing about a fire is that we can now see what it has lit to flame in 2017. There’s activism ramping up across Edmonton and it’s taking many flavours.
One of those is women in politics.
My optimism for this in 2016 came from seeing the sustained support for female politicians in the face of an online backlash that had a particularly gendered tone.
Jansen’s experience illuminated the harassment. The former PC leadership candidate performed a local version of mean tweets targeting her on the floor of the legislature. Many of the tweets she read contained the words “bitch” and or the C-word.
It’s time to see the support for Jansen lead to progress. One place could be at the ballot box.
The countdown to Edmonton’s municipal election this October is on and Equal Voice North is hosting a campaign school for women interested in running. Of the 12 councillors overseeing Edmonton, there’s currently just one woman.
Are there women out there who are capable of being on city council? Of course. The trick is to get more women to run. It’s a chicken-and-egg thing, though: In order for women to see themselves in the role of elected officials, they need to see women in those positions.
This year also promises to be big for environmental activism in Alberta. The federal cabinet has approved the Kinder Morgan Pipeline expansion and Enbridge's Line 3 from Alberta to the U.S. Midwest.
Don’t expect people to be quiet.
A Lakota prophecy talks about a black snake that slithers across the ground. And Dave Archambault, Standing Rock Sioux tribal chairman, told news media the prophecy says that when the snake goes underground it will devastate the Earth.
This prophecy was at the heart of the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Late last year Sioux nations and their allies gained international attention when police officers deployed water cannons on protestors in sub-zero temperatures.
The protests worked and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers denied permission for the pipeline to cross Lake Oahe.
This small victory has energized environmentalists and indigenous activists.
Already Jane Fonda and Greenpeace made national headlines when she visited Alberta to agitate against the pipeline approvals and the oilsands at large.
Of course, Canada has its own history of indigenous activism and many are comparing the DAPL pushback to the 1990 Oka crisis, a months-long standoff where a Mohawk group objected to land development in Quebec.
Protests have already started against the pipelines and Alberta should expect more in 2017.
Issues like climate and gender parity have never seemed more crucial than now. With progressive governments at all levels (Ottawa, Alberta and Edmonton's could wear the term at the moment) fumbling to take the lead on many of these issues, it’s going to be the people of Edmonton who make important voices, including indigenous people and women, heard.
I expect it to happen.