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Blake Desjarlais - A New Kind of Politician


Tansi Nîtôtemtik,


Today on the blog we are talking about day 4 of the 20th Annual Indigenous Law Student’s Association Speaker Series. And even more excitedly, we are talking about today’s incredible speaker Blake Desjarlais, who is taking federal politics by storm.


28-year-old Desjarlais isn’t your average federal politician. As the first openly two-spirit individual to have been elected in Canada and the only Indigenous member of parliament from Alberta – shattering glass ceilings are kind of his thing.


Of Cree and Metis descent, originally from Fishing Lake Metis Settlement in Northern Alberta, Desjarlais is no stranger to intergenerational injustice in Indigenous communities nor its ties to colonialism. His lived experiences intersect with the sixties scoop, child welfare system, and systemic poverty and racism.[1]


But Desjarlais is also no stranger to Indigenous resiliency and strength. Despite significant challenges in life, Desjarlais speaks of the privilege of growing up both Indigenous and connected to community:

“Most Indigenous children [don't] ever have the opportunity, which is to survive and to go back home, to have their language, to have onto them their inheritance, the cultural one, spiritual one.” [2]


Now Desjarlais is carrying that wisdom and knowledge into his new role as MP for Edmonton-Griesbach including further roles as Caucus Vice Chair, Critic for Treasury Board, Diversity and Inclusion, Youth, Sport and Post-Secondary Education, and Deputy Critic for 2SLGBTQI+ Rights and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship.[3]


And while Desjarlais formally represents the Edmonton-Griesbach area, his leadership and presence extend much further. Something he embraces:


“That’s what’s at stake here — making sure Indigenous perspectives are uplifted and we share our learning with the world. We have so much to teach and so much to say as Indigenous people through our experience that has been largely rejected, hidden, and ignored. This is the time right now — 2021 — where we’re going to turn a new leaf. Let’s show the world what Indigenous people can do.” [4]


And while the work has just begun in the House of Commons, Indigenous and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people have a champion they can see themselves reflected in through Blake Desjarlais. A role model and a changemaker.


It is an exciting time for Indigenous politics. And we can’t wait to hear about Blake Desjarlais experience and words of wisdom as he takes the virtual stage today at noon.


Tune in to ualberta.ca/law/ilsa at 12:00pm (MST) today.


Until next time,


ReconciliACTION YEG


[1] Keith Gerein, “Young Métis candidate carries NDP hopes for a second federal seat in Edmonton” (27 Aug 2021), online: Edmonton Journal

<https://edmontonjournal.com/opinion/columnists/keith-gerein-young-metis-candidate-carries-ndp-hopes-for-a-second-federal-seat-in-edmonton>

[2] Kirby Bourne, “Blake Desjarlais is Canada’s first Two Spirit Canadian MP: ‘We’re starting to see ourselves more’” (23 Sep 2021), online: Global News

<https://globalnews.ca/news/8216564/blake-desjarlais-first-two-spirit-canada-mp/>

[3] Jeremy Appel, “NDP Candidate Blake Desjarlais wants to uplift Indigenous voices” (15 Sep 2021), online: Toronto Star <https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2021/09/15/ndp-candidate-blake-desjarlais-wants-to-uplift-indigenous-voices.html>.

[4] “Member of Parliament for Edmonton Griesbach” (2022) online: NDP https://blakedesjarlais.ndp.ca/.




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