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At least one Aboriginal name on Edmonton civic ballot

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By Paula E. Kirman Sweetgrass Writer EDMONTON







An Aboriginal woman is seeking a seat on the the City of Edmonton council.

Taz Audrey Bouchier recently announced her intention to seek the position for Ward 6.

“I chose Ward 6 because of the diversity of ethnicities, religions, and economic situations,” said Bouchier. “Also, because of my familiarity with the downtown core from the time I worked as the Institutional Elder for the old Edmonton Remand Centre.”

Bouchier is a familiar face to anyone in the Edmonton area who has attended Idle No More rallies and events. The community organizer, social worker, addictions counselor, and consultant will be running in the upcoming Edmonton civic election.

Bouchier, the youngest of 19 children, was born in High Prairie, and moved with her family to Edmonton in 1964. She is of Cree, Sioux, Navajo, and Scottish descent, and is currently making an application to join the Sawridge Band, to which her grandmother belonged.

“As an Aboriginal person, I can provide an insight to cultural differences, customs, protocols, norms, and awareness of legislation. As a City Councillor, I would represent all the constituents of Ward 6 towards increasing community involvement in decisions that address the desires and needs of everyone within the ward,” she said.

Educating others about Aboriginal culture is part of what Bouchier does for a living. Her consulting business, Windspirit Aboriginal Network & Training, provides Cultural Competency Training to judges, lawyers, crown prosecutors, and even the Solicitor General. She is passionate about issues surrounding addictions and crime, being a first-hand witness to the over-representation of Aboriginal people in the correctional system.

 “I do not support ignoring a growing crisis within Ward 6. I truly believe that addressing the lifestyle requires support in the form of a more holistic approach to wellness that is inclusive of cultural interventions,” Bouchier said. “In doing so, criminal activity within Ward 6 will be reduced and a sense of safety will return for all occupants. As well, I will, as City Councillor, continue to work with various stakeholders to continue the vision of the Honourable Stephen Mandel to address homelessness and seek livable, city-owned property that can be converted into affordable homes for those who are homeless.”

She credits Idle No More for awakening her political ambitions and encourages other Aboriginal women to run for office.

“Idle No More awakened me to the realization that I can contribute and that I possess the background to contribute as a City Councillor for Ward 6. A young Aboriginal girl approached me after an Idle No More event that I spoke at and stated, ‘I am shocked and motivated to see and hear an Aboriginal woman speak to white people in public the way you just did! I have never seen that before. And they listened to you! I am so inspired, thank you!’” Bouchier said.

Bouchier hopes that her running as a candidate will inspire others not only to vote for her, but to work to achieve their own dreams. “I am a hard worker with a great deal of integrity. I believe that there is nothing that can hold people back from achieving their dreams if they have the support of others. The time has come for the descendants of the Indigenous people of this land now known as Canada to awaken to who they are and what that means constitutionally. When that happens, we will act as sovereign nations.”

It is believed that Bouchier is the first Aboriginal woman candidate. Her nomination marks the third consecutive civic election that Edmonton has had an Aboriginal candidate. Duane Good Striker (in 2010) and Lewis Cardinal (in 2007) were both unsuccessful in their bids to claim the seat in Ward 8.

Voters go to the polls across the province for municipal and school board representatives on Oct. 21.