(Waterloo, Ont.) Lori Campbell, a #Two-Spirit Cree-Metis women, has thrown their hat into the ring and seeking to be the next Member of Parliament for the Kitchener—Waterloo riding. According to The FAUW Blog, “Lori Campbell is a 2-Spirit nēhiyaw atāpihtāwikosisān iskwew. Okawiya mōniyawi-sākahikanihk, Treaty 6 territory in kīwētinohk kisiskāciwan ohcīw. (Translation: a 2-Spirit Cree-Métis woman. Her mother is from Montreal Lake First Nation, Treaty 6 territory in northern Saskatchewan.)” and is the Director of Shatitsirótha’ Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre (WISC), at St. Paul’s University College.
As reported by CBC, “An estimated 4.7 million electors voted in the advance polls held across the country over the last four days, Elections Canada said Tuesday. That figure is significantly higher than the number of votes cast in the advance polls in 2015.”
Election Canada reminds everyone who is a Canadian citizens aged 18 years and over who have not yet cast a ballot can do so at a local polling station on election day, Monday, October 21, 2019.
The Two-Spirit Journal caught up to Lori Campbell on the campaign trail to find out why Ms. Campbell decided to run for public office, “25 years ago, I was having lunch with my Auntie, a prominent Indigenous leader and activist. She asked me, ‘when are you going to get into politics, my girl?’ I laughed and flippantly disregarded her questions. She grew quiet and serious. I knew I had responded inappropriately. She said, ‘to be Indigenous is to be political.’ I didn’t really understand this too deeply at that time.”
Campbell continues, “I went about my life, doing what I was doing, learning, and growing. 25 years later, I received a call, seemingly out of the blue, to request if I would consider running for NDP in the Federal election. I listened to the request and said I would think about it.”
When Campbell’s partner, Katherine, asked who was on the phone, Campbell share with Katherine the caller’s request. Campbell also shared how she was going to simple respond with a no. However, Campbell responded with “I hear ya, but this is a really big ask. It’s too big of an ask to give a flippant ‘no.’”
Then upon reflection Campbell felt she needed, “to have a good reason to say no. I think the head reaction was a “no” because of simply thinking about the violent psychological imagery that comes to mind when I think about mainstream politics.”
Campbell then recalled the conversation she had with Auntie 25 years ago, and she knew that her flippant ‘no’ in that moment had disrespectfully regarded all of the work that her Auntie and many others like her Auntie had done so that Indigenous peoples are where they are today.
“Over the next few weeks,” Campbell continues, “I went about searching to see if I had a good reason to say ‘no’. But all that I learned was that I had a very strong skill-set to navigate challenging institutional spaces, having difficult conversations, and ways of bringing people together to talk about big issues. I realized that in fact, it was an opportunity like this that I had been training for. My auntie shared her support and endorsement – and here I am!”
When asked if Campbell is the first openly Two-Spirit candidate running for federal office and if Campbell was, how does it feel? Campbell’s response was, “I don’t actually know and hadn’t actually thought about it in this broad of a spectrum. I only know me and don’t know how to be anything but me, so it really only feels like me running for federal office. I guess I do also realize that everything I know, have learned, and way I see things is also from being centred as a Two-Spirit person. I think about my role within my lodge, the Indigenous community, and the larger community around me. It feels like just being me and I wouldn’t ever want to push me aside to be someone else.”
Lori and her partner Katherine are passionate about the Waterloo community. “People here are amazing and we are so pleased to call Waterloo our home,” Campbell said. “It’s clear that people in Waterloo care about social justice, environmental protection, climate justice, and human rights. I share their passion and I am proud to seek the nomination of a party that prioritizes these principles. As an NDP MP, I will be committed to fighting for these principles and working hard to make sure the voice of our community is heard on Parliament Hill.”
Lori has made it her career to work towards a more just and equitable society for all. According to the University of Waterloo Indigenous Students Association, “There are few people as humble and hard working as Lori and she does her work not for her own success but for the overall betterment of our community. She celebrates our achievements with us, she sees our potential and encourages us to reach it and she is always there to build us back up when we fall.”
Dr. Richard Myers, Principal of St. Paul’s University College at the University of Waterloo, describes Lori as “an exceptionally gifted advocate…. she combines a commanding personal presence, and a mastery of her material, with a warm smile and a down-to-earth manner.”
If you would like to get involved in Lori’s campaign or donate, please email CampbellforNDP@gmail.com.