REPRESENT! starts were Project Prince Edward left off

Hastings Prince Edward District School Board Trustee for Prince Edward-South Alison Kelly. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette Staff)
JASON PARKS

STAFF WRITER

An initiative to promote more balanced and reflective local government is relaunching itself and is call everyone from Prince Edward County to get involved and “Represent!”

Formerly Project Prince Edward, REPRESENT! is a volunteer run effort to connect, engage and support underrepresented people who are interested in participating in local government —women; First Nations and racialized people; gender diverse people; LGBTQIA2S people; people living with disabilities; and youth.

Councillor Kate MacNaughton. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)

The overarching goal of the group is to see a day when representation on County Council and local school boards is as diverse as the people residing here.

“101 years ago, Constance Hamilton was sworn in as a Toronto Alderman -Canada’s first woman to sit as a member of a local government,” said Alison Kelly, a local public school board trustee who is waving the banner of Ontario’s New Democrats in the upcoming provincial election as the Bay of Quinte NDP nominee. “A century later, we have yet to approach parity in Canada. Most municipal councils are still predominantly men, mostly white and straight, including Prince Edward’s County Council.”

Kelly said out of 14 Prince Edward County Councillors elected in 2018, only two or 14 per cent, are women.

Nationally, only one in four councillors sitting at municipal tables are women yet women make up 50.4 per cent of Canada’s electorate.

Other demographics such as openly gay or transgender or Black, Indigenous, People of Color are less represented on municipal governments than their make up of municipal populations.

“We can do better,” Kelly added.

With that in mind, REPRESENT! Will be running panel discussions and workshops online and in person leading up to the 2022 Municipal Election, starting tonight with a meeting at St. Andrew’s Church at 7 p.m. All are welcome, registration will be required and Proof of Vaccination will be required for in-person events.

It is often said pundits at municipal election time that local government, despite the lack of major media attention and a consistent level of voter apathy, has the most impact on a person’s day-to-day life and fellow organizer Kate MacNaughton agrees with that sentiment.

“A panel discussion on the power of local government how it can touch live and how diverse voices and experiences can make that representation stronger is what we are aiming for,” MacNaughton said. “From there we want to explore how we can help clear the pathway forward for folks in the community that haven’t considered getting involved before.”

Thursday’s panel will include Judith Burfoot from All Welcome Here; Christine Durant of Prince Edward Learning Centre and previously, The Poverty Roundtable HPE; Chantelle Edwards from the Students Commission of Canada, Centre of Excellence for Youth Engagement; MacNaughton, Prince Edward County Councillor; Elis Ziegler, activist and former Prince Edward County candidate; and facilitator Kelly, provincial candidate for Bay of Quinte NDP and HPE School Board Trustee. Future events will include campaign school workshops on: ● Creating and running a campaign ● Making the most out of social media and technology ● Running for School Board Trustee ● A councillor’s toolchest

For more information, please email representpec@gmail.com