Edmonton's public school board election race is just warming up, but already it has become an historic one.

Teacher Karen Pheasant kicked off her campaign Monday as the first aboriginal woman to run for the board.

"It's a time for change," she said at a Westmount restaurant. "It's a time for community participation."

Pheasant is about to embark on her PhD at the University of Alberta.

"I do take a different perspective at education," she said. "What we need to be (is) a more holistic-based education.

"I have strong concerns when we lose art programs; when we lose extra-curriculum programs."

Pheasant's aboriginal heritage gives her a valuable perspective on public education, said activist Lewis Cardinal, one of her supporters.

"There are over 10,000 aboriginal kids in the Edmonton public school system," he said. "Karen's an educator — she's a natural fit to be able to provide that cultural-indigenous perspective — but also how that's inclusive of everyone else."

School board elections take place in October.

With files from CBC's Silvana Benolich