April 13th, 2024

Edmonton MLA joins NDP leadership race

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on February 27, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

First-time MLA Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse has joined the NDP leadership race.
The 49-year-old Calahoo Stonehouse, who represents the riding of Edmonton-Rutherford in the Alberta legislature, announced her candidacy Saturday night in Lethbridge at the International Peace Powwow.
Calahoo Stonehouse, who is of Mohawk and Cree descent, is the fourth candidate to enter the race, the others being Calgary MLA Kathleen Ganley, Edmonton MLA Rakhi Pancholi and Sarah Hoffman.
A successor to Rachel Notley will be named June 22.
Calahoo Stonehouse, the NDP critic for Environment, Parks and Climate Resilience, told The Herald on Friday morning in a phone interview of her plan to run for her party leadership.
The MLA said she had more than 100 calls from First Nations Elders across the province urging her to throw her name into the mix.
“I had talked myself out of doing this and it was phone calls from Elders from across the province” who convinced her to make the run.
“They said ‘my girl, it’s time for you to do and you must go where you can make change,'” she said of calls from people she has worked with on various projects.
“In our culture, it’s the Elders who actually prepare you for your leadership through ceremony, through fasting. I spent many years fasting with Elders and learning. In our world view, being a leader is willing to endure suffering. You make sure everyone is fed before you eat and the Elders have very strict values that we must embody,” she said.
“They seem to think I embody those values,” the MLA added.
“In our culture, we have to carry responsibility for one another and I carry this responsibility very deeply. I believe that there’s an Alberta but it exists where people from walks of life like Blackfoot, Cree, Punjabi, Hindu can see themselves reflected and their concerns and their priorities also reflected in the government of this province.
“Fundamentally, I believe change can happen and the Elders have prepared me and I am prepared,” said Calahoo Stonehouse.
“I am prepared to lead that change.”
Calahoo Stonehouse said Notley “did such an extraordinary job of bringing together this incredible team of elected officials who represent such a diverse degree of culture within the world, of identity politics and the expertise we bring. We have doctors, we have scientists, we have innovators. We’ve got folks who are renewable experts, folks who are oil and gas strategists. We just have a remarkable team that is ready to govern.”
The MLA noted that both Notley and Raj Panu both ran for party leader in their first terms and her support is growing.
“It’s not how long you’ve been doing something, it’s how well you can do it,” she said.
She has a wide-ranging background.
Calahoo Stonehouse was the executive director of the Yellowhead Indigenous Education Foundation, and worked for an Edmonton Shift Lab, looking at anti-racism.
She also was a commissioner on the Edmonton Police Commission, and spent 20 years at the University of Alberta in different roles including spending time as advisor on reconciliation to the provost and vice-president.
She was the founder of an Indigenous legal lodge in Edmonton, which was the first of its kind in Canada after going to law school at the University of Victoria.
She also did research on water and water quality and the impact of the Alberta oilsands on biodiversity, ecosystems and human ecology.
“I’ve been a busy girl,” she said.
She also has hosted and produced a radio program called Acimowin and produced award winning films on reconciliation, and has done work on the Sixties Scoop.
“As a First Nations person and the stereotypes, you have to work three times as hard to get anywhere,” the MLA added.

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