New Yellowknife councillors happy to 'bridge the gap' of diversity
Councillor-elect Stacie Smith wants to be a role model for Indigenous youth
Yellowknife's new city council will be sworn in next month, and some say it's more diverse than before.
"This is probably the most diverse council there's ever been," said Cynthia Mufandaedza, one of the new faces coming into council.
Mufandaedza is originally from Zimbabwe. She immigrated to Canada in 2000 and moved to Yellowknife in 2011.
Having more immigrants on council is important, she said, because they bring a different perspective to the issues.
"Every community does need diversity," Mufandaedza said. "We are starting to see that diversity in the Northwest Territories, mainly in Yellowknife, so that is important to have that diverse representation."
Stacie Smith was the only Indigenous candidate who ran in the 2018 election.
"Being Indigenous, sometimes people look at you different and people treat you different," Smith said.
Smith hopes being on council will make her a role model for Indigenous youth.
"We need to bridge the gap that's between the cultures," she said. "We have to work together as a community, and we can't do that when there's a divide."
In Yellowknife, about 31 per cent of the population is Indigenous.
As the only Indigenous representative on council, Smith wants to strengthen the city's relationship with Indigenous organizations — something she says should have been brought to the table a long time ago.
"A lot of social issues will need to have some of these Indigenous groups [involved]," she explained.
Smith also wants to continue implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's calls to action, something that had been started by the previous council.
"When you look at our city we're not just white people," said Louise Elder, executive director of the Status of Women Council of the N.W.T.
Part of the organization's vision is to see "a society which respects and includes the diverse experiences and perspectives of all women."
For Elder, both Smith and Mufandaedza being elected is a "fabulous start" to having more diverse leaders.
"We're diverse, and that diversity should be reflected in our council."
Newly elected city councillors are meeting the next few Saturdays for an orientation on what to expect when they come into power.
Council will be sworn in on Nov. 5.