Winnipeg activist Blandine Tona to seek St. Boniface NDP nomination

Human rights, women's activist Blandine Tona will seek St. Boniface NDP nomination.

Tona active with several grassroots women's rights, human rights groups

Activist Blandine Tona is seeking the NDP nomination for St. Boniface. (CBC)

A human-rights activist and educator says she is seeking the NDP nomination for St. Boniface after former MLA and premier Greg Selinger's decision to resign.

Blandine Tona made the announcement official Wednesday morning in front of a crowd of supporters and media at the Centre Culturel Franco-Manitobain.

When asked about the timing of her announcement, she said it was overdue.

"Now, I think, is late," she said, "because of the changes we have been experiencing for a few months now and, I think, over a year are real."

Tona says the opportunity presented itself when Selinger resigned, and she decided to seize it. "Unfortunately, it was under a sad condition, but you have to be able to respond to the community's need," she said.

Selinger announced his resignation last week after earlier apologizing for failing to discipline former MLA Stan Struthers when he was accused by several former NDP party staffers of sexual misconduct over several years. Eventually, those staffers went to the media with their concerns.

"I've been really involved in grassroot movement for years," Tona said, "because I think we should always challenge authority and the government and ask — and demand — the government do better.

"[The NDP] took some things for granted, and now those things are falling apart."

Tona currently works as a program co-ordinator at the Sexuality Resource Centre ,and teaches courses at the University of Winnipeg and the Université de Saint-Boniface. She is also working toward a Ph.D. overseas in peace and conflict studies in her native country of Cameroon.

One of her main concerns are cuts to provincial programming, especially health care, she says.

"This government is failing us every day … Knowing the impact on youth, knowing the impact on women, knowing the impact on the community and elders, I feel that is the person that I don't want to be. We shouldn't balance the budget on the back of vulnerable people."

Tona says she wants to see a comprehensive plan that works with people to understand their needs while being fiscally responsible.

Tona has served on numerous women's, gender equality and human rights boards and groups throughout the city.

She and her husband, Clément Seyi, have three children.

With files from Radio-Canada