Cree and Mohawk politician Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse breaking new ground in Alberta politics

Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse believes right now is a “powerful moment in time” with Indigenous politicians changing the history of the country.

Calahoo Stonehouse spent the last day of the recent Manitoba election out on the campaign trail with Manitoba NDP leader, Wab Kinew.

She was at Kinew’s campaign headquarters later that evening when Kinew was declared the next premier of the province, the first, First Nations leader of a province in Canada.

It’s a moment Calahoo Stonehouse says she will never forget.

But just a few months earlier, it was Calahoo Stonehouse who was the one making history.

“Peal Calahasen, in 1989 was the first Métis woman to be elected into the Alberta legislature and as it stands, I’m, the first, First Nations woman to be elected into the Alberta legislature,” says Calahoo Stonehouse, who represents Edmonton-Rutherford for the NDP.

“What I can say is, I most certainly won’t be the last and we break trail, blood sweat and tears so that future generations can follow our footsteps with ease. I give thanks and homage to Pearl for all the work that she did and I’ll continue to break trail for others to follow.”

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Calahoo Stonehouse is no stranger to politics. She is a former band councilor for the Michel First Nation in Alberta.

In 2021, she also ran for national chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

Running for provincial politics was something Calahoo Stonehouse did not take lightly. She went into ceremony, and consulted with elders before deciding to run.

“Growing up, I heard this rhetoric around, ‘’those aren’t our politics, that’s not our place and it wasn’t serving us,’” says Calahoo Stonehouse on the latest edition of Face to Face. “We are Albertans, we do live on these lands, these resources, this watershed, the delta, our people have lived sustainable on these lands for millennium. So, these politics are our politics, we do belong here and there is space for us, so changing the narrative is part of the work.”

Calahoo Stonehouse, who holds the official opposition critic roles for Environment, Parks and Climate Resilience, says there has been a learning curve.

“I would say the biggest surprise is coming from a place where we lift pipes and sit together in governance and feast together to a place and space where we sit across the room from each and have very formal, bureaucratic systems of speaking to one another. So, adjusting to the process is a bit of a step but exciting nonetheless,” says Calahoo Stonehouse.

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