Brielle Beardy-Linklater is determined to become an agent of change.

“I consider myself a political activist, of the radical variety,” says the Cree woman from Thompson, Man.

She is forthright about her desire to improve conditions for First Nations people — even if that means doing it with a take-no-prisoners attitude.

“Years of systemic oppression and facing racism and transphobia on a daily basis has made me that way,” she explains. “No one was really apologetic about that, so I’m not afraid to say what I need to say to help people thrive. This is all about lifting up other people.”

Beardy-Linklater believes politics is the best way to solve many socio-economic issues, like poverty, which disproportionately affect First Nations communities.

“Who better to advocate on behalf of those factors, than someone who’s lived them ... and continues to live them,” said Beardy-Linklater.

In the past, she’s worked with the New Democratic Party in Manitoba. She has decided to run for office for the party in 2020.

“It’s about Indigenous people going into a political atmosphere, and taking your space and reclaiming it. It’s the only way to do it.”

As a transgender woman she says: “I would be breaking a mould, definitely.”

But Beardy-Linklater has already broken that mold. She was one of 338 Daughters of the Vote, a competition which selected one young woman to fill every seat in the House of Commons as a way of marking the 100th anniversary of women receiving the vote.

She made history of her own that day, becoming the first transgender woman to take a seat in Parliament, a moment she says was a huge honour.

“It’s about Indigenous people going into a political atmosphere, and taking your space and reclaiming it. It’s the only way to do it.”

For Beardy-Linklater, being Indigenous means something incredibly special.

“I am a testament to survival,” she says. “We are a really strong people. We have such values of love and community.”

She would prefer to see those values acknowledged and honoured, instead of the celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary.

“The country was founded on the colonization of Indigenous people, so it is very difficult for me to celebrate that,” she explains.

Beardy-Linklater hopes the next 150 years for Canada will see more collaboration on tackling the issues affecting Indigenous people, as well as better education, employment and economic opportunities.

“I really feel like something is changing. We’re seeing it. Something is happening, I definitely feel it.”

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