Cultural Diversity for BC Provincial election candidates… Carole James is Metis and Scottish!

Carol James could be BC's first Premier with Metis (and Scottish) ancestry
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Carole James and Todd Wong at a reception during the BC Federation of Labour Convention.

There are lots of candidates touting their ethnic diversity in their appeals for ethnic votes.  The most significant mention is NDP leader Carole James, who has both Metis and Scottish ancestry.  While she is developing a clan war with Liberal leader Gordon Campbell, the James-Campbell rivalry may not be as deep as the generations long Campbell-McDonald feud or the recent NDP-Liberal clashes.

I have met Carol a number of times.  She is always warm, thoughtful and engaging, the kind of person you could easily invite home for dinner.  When I saw here earlier this year at a talk for the CLC Winter School, she greeted me with a warm hug.  When I asked a question to her, regarding gender equity and what inspires her, she turned to the audience and said “He always asks such good questions!”

A win by James would be significant, in the 150th year since the founding of BC by Gov. James Douglas.  Douglas himself was of mixed Scottish and Creole heritage, and his wife Amelia was Metis.  He envisioned a British Columbia that would welcome people equally from all around the world, where the law was equal for First Nations and Whites, and his actions spoke loudly.  The creation of the Victoria Pioneer Volunteer Rifle Corps also known as the “All Blacks” was created with his support. 

If elected, she would join BC's first aboriginal Lt. Gov. Steven Point, in leading BC's provincial government.

2009_April_BookPrizes 025 Commander King Wan, Lt. Gov. Steven Point and Todd Wong at the 2009 BC Book Awards.

When James was elected as NDP leader in 2003, she was accompanied by First Nations drumming and stood on the podium with Chinese-Canadian Jenny Kwan and Celtic-Canadian Joy MacPhail.  Under James' leadership, she has guided the provincial NDP from 2 seats in 2001 to 35 seats in 2005, and a very possible win for 2009.

The following pictures are of the BC election candidates and present MLA's that I have met over the past year,

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Jenny Kwan was the first Chinese Canadian to become a BC provincial cabinet minister in 1998. I've known Jenny over the years, as she has attended many community and political events.  She is a cultural hero and a tireless activist for many issues, for her Vancouver Mount Pleasant constituency. I greatly admire how she supports many causes such as saving the Mount St. Joseph hospital campaign in 2005 and 2006, as well as the Chinese Head Tax Redress campaign.  In 2005, she and Joy MacPhail, were featured guests at the Gung Haggis Fat Choy dinner.  This picture is from a fundraiser Garden Party at Jenny's home, we are standing with Dan, a teacher and an executive for his union.

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Raj Chouhan (Burnaby Edmonds and Harry Bains (Surrey -Newton) are both incredible leaders in the Farm Worker and Labour Union movements.  I first really got to know them last year at the CUPE BC Workers of Colour Conference, where I found them both to be very inspiring speakers.  Raj was has been a tireless advocate against racism, and has been the the founding president of the Canadian Farmworkers' Union, and
he served as the Director of Bargaining at the Hospital Employees Union
for 18 years.  Harry is equally impressive as he shared stories about being a union leaders for lumber mills that helped improve both productivity and worker relations for the mills.  He has also served on the Kwantlen College Board of
Governors between 1993 and 1999. He has also volunteered with
organizations like Habitat for Humanity.  This picture was taken at the CLC Winter School.

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Mel Lehan is Jewish-Canadian, and running in Vancouver Point Grey.  Mel is known as the Mayor of Kitsilano for his incredible work in helping to build community such as the Farmers' Market, the saving and creation of St. James Hall into a community Hall, and the saving of the foreshore and the Linden trees, and so much more.  Mel greatly admired the community work I have been doing for the past years, and asked me to be a seconder at his nomination meeting, which I gladly accepted.

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Jenn McGinn is definitely Irish/Celtic-Canadian.  We give a high-five at a fundraiser earlier this year.  Jenn has been one of the delightful surprises along with Spencer Herbert of the Fall 08 by-elections, as they both quickly proved themsevles adept speakers during question period.

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Mabel Elmore is an incredibly spirited community activist, with one of the biggest smiles and warmest hearts.  She could be  the first Filipino-Canadian BC MLA. which is long overdue because Filipinos were likely the first Asians who came to Canada, with Captain Cook.

DSC_7740_107139 - Gabriel YIU by FlungingPictures

Gabriel Yiu is running in Vancouver Fraserview.  I got to know Gabriel during the 2005-06 Chinese Head Tax Redress campaign.  Gabriel is very passionate about social justice issues, and really got behind the Save Mount St. Joseph Hospital campaign alongside Jenny Kwan.  He is an astute poltical commentator.

Not to be personally biased against Premier Campbell and the Liberals, but I haven't really bumped into them much over the past year, except in Victoria when I went to receive the BC Community Achievement Award from Premier Campbell.  It was great to meet Ida Chong, who is in the BC cabinet minister, and was an advisor for the Awards.

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Victoria April 2008.  I received the BC Community Achievement Award from Scottish-descendant Gordon Campbell (although I have never seen him in a kilt, only Chinese jackets for Chinese New Year.) and First Nations Lt. Gov. Steven Point.

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Richard Lee (Burnaby North) is always busy in the community.  Richard served as
Parliamentary Secretary for the Asia-Pacific Initiative and addresses many issues on multiculturalism.  He has long supported many of our past activities for Asian Canadian Writers Workshop.

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