‘Water is life’: First Nations politician in Alberta launches NDP leadership campaign about environment

Calahoo Stonehouse announced an NDP leadership campaign focused on addressing Alberta’s water crisis, climate change response, and economic diversification through responsible government planning and community support.

Alberta NDP

Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse at the launch of her bid to become leader of the NDP in Alberta. Photo courtesy: Indigital Media

Jodi Calahoo Stonehouse, a member of the Michel First Nation in Alberta has launched her campaign to become the next leader of the NDP in the province.

She is currently the only Indigenous candidate who has announced she will run after former premier Rachel Notley announced she was stepping down from NDP leadership after almost ten years.

The 49-year-old mother of five told APTN News she spent the day after the launch meeting with people in High River, Alta., 65 km south of Calgary. The area is the riding for Premier Danielle Smith.

“I was speaking to a bunch of folks about the water crisis, it is going to hit Southern Alberta first,” said Calahoo Stonehouse.

She also said there is not enough investment in wildfire preparedness.

“We are headed into an even drier season … there’s been some snow in Edmonton, but there is no snow down south,” said Calahoo Stonehouse.

The province declared an early start to the 2024 wildfire season due to a low snowfall amount over the winter.

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Alberta asks feds for help to battle wildfires

She cited the lack of preparation during the last wildfire season and the need for proactive measures to manage the impending water shortage.

“A responsible government would have and should have been down there for the past six months planning with citizens on how we are going to manage the water shortage,” Calahoo Stonehouse said.

“Water is life.”

Calahoo Stonehouse said that her platform will be released in a few days.

“So really, my platform is focused on three things: climate change response, economic diversification and taking care of those who take care of us,” she said.

The candidate also highlighted the need for a shift in Alberta’s economic systems, focusing on principles of transformation and sustainability.

In May 2023, Calahoo Stonehouse was the first First Nations woman to be elected to the Alberta legislature. She is currently the opposition critic for Environment, Parks and Climate Resilience.

She criticized the Alberta government for stalling on environmental issues and called for leadership that can transform the current system into one that provides abundance for families.

She also spoke out about repealing the carbon tax for consumers, saying that it was a failed policy.

“It should have and it could have worked, but it’s not working. And we certainly cannot penalize citizens. Albertans we’re already in an affordability crisis,” she said.

Instead, the leadership candidate said the focus needs to be on reinstating services.

“We are consumers of healthcare. We want to make sure that we have doctors, that we have nurses, that we have teachers in our schools. So there is no differentiation around the services that a government provides its citizens,” Calahoo Stonehouse said.

She also discussed her time on the Edmonton Police Commission, where she learned about the complexities of policing and the need for public oversight and accountability. She called for investment in the commission and the need for full-time employees to support the commissioners.

Calahoo Stonehouse joins Kathleen Ganley, former justice minister and current Calgary-Mountainview MLA, Edmonton-Whitemud MLA Rakhi Pancholi, and Edmonton-Glenora MLA and former health minister Sarah Hoffman.

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