Written By: Michelle Robinson
To be very clear, I have never regretted running. I’m a proud Calgarian born Indigenous woman raised in Alberta by a boilermaker. I went to SAIT, drafted wells and pipelines, married the son of a seismic guy and got political. I ran for the City of Calgary, Ward 10, ran for the Alberta Liberal Party for Calgary East and have been active in the Federal Liberal Party for years. I have regretted running without knowledge on key things which I want to share with others being encouraged to run.
Lots of folks are encouraged to run when you put out political opinions. In my case, not many folks liked my opinion, and certainly not at the poll booth. I still feel I ran with integrity and values worth speaking on. I will devote my life for equality, human rights and I know it can be done for the majority, to the benefit of the majority. I will continue to give unpopular political opinions.
There are many folkx interested in running for the same reasons, have an issue worthy of running for office on and the conviction to do so. There are many people that love that courage, bravery and want folkx like that in office. They may not have the resources or bravery that others willing to run for office do. So when you hear folks encouraging you to run, consider the following;
Are people, who want you to run, able to volunteer? You can not run alone. You can try but other political savvy folkx with political degrees and highly regarded political opinions will publicly denounce you for not having capacity. Provincial and federal politics are a bit different when you’re running with political parties but then it’s the popularity of the leader that could be the reason you get elected or don’t. It’s very humbling and if you run with a party, seeing others not believe in your leader the way you do, hurts.
Are people, who want you to run, able to donate? Many folkx have strong political opinions. I was raised on them and married into a family with them too as I’m sure everyone can relate to. That said, not many actually give money to a political campaign. There are one time options, monthly contributions and you must know the rules for the limits depending on the level of government you’re running for. You want all the money you can raise. Some folkx may not have money but they might be a great person to volunteer and run fundraisers.
Are people, who want you to run, able to give endorsements? I tried to get endorsements. I thought by asking for them, it was a simple, no financial commitment to my campaigns. Turns out, lots of folkx will ask you to run but are not willing to endorse because of their non partisan public position. In other words, many folkx never want to be associated with politics publicly.
Are people, who want you to run, able to meet your expectations? Watching other candidates over the years, seeing how the system works is not the same as putting your name on a ballot. It’s humbling to know who will help. One of my favorite candidates said, everyone should run to find out who your friends really are. That’s why I do encourage everyone to run. It’s not just good citizenship but you get to see what you can do, and who wants to be part of the journey with you. It’s humbling but worth every second of it. I hope you run knowing how to do it a bit better than I did.
Michelle Robinson is a facilitator for Mending Broken Hearts: Healing Unresolved Grief through the White Bison, Wellbriety Training Institute, a volunteer on the Calgary Police Service Indigenous Justice Committee - the volunteer Indigenous liaison for 12 Community Safety Initiative that runs the only open to the public Indigenous book club, Chapters and Chat for over three years, a co-chair of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls & Two Spirit Calgary committee, Assistant Producer for Calgary Animated Objects Society (CAOS) encouraging youth to go to post secondary through opening a RESP and encouraging folkx with low income to utilize the Canada Learning Bond. Michelle is also a co-founder of VOICES, a group advocating for the Two Spirit, and queer people of colour in Calgary - the Calgary Chair for the Indigenous Peoples’ Commission in Alberta and is the host of the podcast Native Calgarian.
Michelle was the first First Nation's person to run for city council in Calgary and ran as the candidate for the Alberta Liberal Party for Calgary East in 2019. Michelle is a proud mom and volunteers in her daughter’s activities.