From a life of struggle to achieving her political dream: Cyara Bird’s journey
Raised in a Conservative household, Cyara Bird has overcome tragedy in her life. Especially during her childhood.
Her triumph over mental and physical abuse from her step-father is an issue faced by many Indigenous women and girls on and off-reserve.
Accomplishing her 2013 goal of running for office in under 10-years is a testament to her resiliency and bravery as an Indigenous woman, and as the CPC Candidate for Churchill-Keewatinook.
According to the 2014 General Social Survey (GSS) on Victimization, 40 percent of girls self-reported being sexually or physically maltreated before the age of 15. That stands higher than non-Indigenous Canadians at 29 percent. Both figures provide insights into the horrific reality of child abuse in our communities.
Violent victimization amongst the Indigenous population (160 incidents per 1,000 people) more than doubles that of non-Indigenous people (74 incidents per 1,000 people). For Indigenous women, aged 15 and older, that number increased to 219 incidents per 1,000 population.
With self-reported victimization higher amongst Indigenous people for sexual assault (58 compared to 20 incidents per 1,000 population) and physical assault (87 compared to 47 incidents per 1,000 people) than non-Indigenous Canadians, the importance of coming forward, regardless of identity is vital in the push for justice, accountability, and a hopeful resolution to one’s healing.
In a Post Millennial Exclusive with Cyara, she mentioned how her abusive step-father “that [she] would end up being a drug addict selling [her] body to make money.”
Having fulfilled her promise to run for office in 2013, she added: “To be able to be here, and to be able to prove him wrong and to do good things for my people is so surreal.”
In light of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry by the Liberal Government, Cyara made it known of her intent to inspire other Indigenous women to seek office and break glass ceilings.
She poignantly states, “I want to show them that you can do anything, regardless of any hurdles that you may face.”
“Jump right over them and keep on going. Know you can do anything that you want to do that is going to make a positive impact [for our communities].”
When it came to the Inquiry, however, “[she] believes that the inquiry did not give us the answers that we needed.”
On reconciliation: “We have to make sure it doesn’t lose the power behind it.”
Following the release of the final MMIWG Report, 231 individual calls for justice were made following two-years of public hearings and evidence gathering.
The truths of some 2,380 Indigenous Canadians were heard.
Amongst the many thousands missing is Cyara’s relative, who she states, “has been missing for a long time.”
“I appreciate [the efforts that went into MMIWG, but] I feel that we need more answers.”
In part, addressing the economic realities that many Indigenous Canadians face is crucial to tackling the issues presented in reconciliation — many of which are intertwined.
From consulting Indigenous Canadians on resource development projects to developing such in an environmentally-conscious manner, both will go far in bridging the divide between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples.
“We need to make sure that we keep our natural resource sector alive because it’s so important to push Canada forward.”
“Moving forward, especially when we’re talking about reconciliation, we have to make sure it doesn’t lose the power behind it.”
From tackling mental health to ensuring communities have clean drinking water, Cyara promotes issues that impact demographics across Canada.
“One of the biggest issues [I’m campaigning on] is making sure that every reserve in Canada has clean water. There is no excuse for that to be happening.”
Two weeks after giving birth to her second child, both of which are under the age of four, she went to give her youngest a bath but was met with murky water. While unsuitable for bathing and consumption, this is an issue many on-reserve Indigenous-Canadians faces, even today.
Also, tackling the addiction and “suicide crisis,” was a top priority for her. “I would like to see land-based sobriety camps popping up, on and off-reserves.”
“I feel that if we get our people back on the right path, giving them the [tools] that they need, it’ll help pull them back to us.”
“Mental health does not discriminate. It impacts everybody.”
“I am not just doing this for my children. I’m doing it for children across Canada.”
At a Calgary-based rally, organized by her colleague Michelle Rempel in early-September, Cyara spoke to the struggles that came with this sacrifice, especially early on in her candidacy.
“There were days where I would be the only one door knocking,” she says. “Driving from one poll to the next, I would have to stop periodically to breastfeed my child.”
Teary-eyed, she referred to her past struggles as a driving factor for her campaign. Having made six attempts on her life at 19 years of age, she overcame adversity to become an advocate for Indigenous issues.
“I am not just doing this for my children. I’m doing it for children across Canada.”
She cites her children as her primary motivators in her riding, stating, “I haven’t seen both of my kids in a week because I needed to focus on making sure that this campaign moves forward.”
“My campaign manager has three kids as well and has her husband’s looking after them. So there’s a lot of sacrifices that come with [campaigning], but I know it’s going to pay off.”
Today, she advocates for a better relationship with the Indigenous Peoples of Canada, in hopes that her next of kin inherit a Canada that is fairer and more prosperous.
The former intermin Conservative Party leader Rona Ambrose has officially announced that she will not be running in the Conservative leadership contest.
Ambrose, who was encouraged to run by Brad Wall and Jason Kenney, is a highly respected figure within the party with particularly deep roots in Western Canada.
In a statement published to Facebook, Ambrose stated that it was “humbling to be considered” for CPC leadership. “I love our party, I love the people in it and I love our country. I have really struggled with the decision to return to political life,” she added.
“I loved my 13 years in public service as an MP, minister and especially as leader of this great party. But right now, I am focused on making a difference through the private sector. Creating policy and advocating for our energy sector to create jobs … the truth is, I love being back in Alberta.”
This will come as a blow to many Conservative supporters across Western Canada who viewed Ambrose as the best chance of defeating Justin Trudeau. She also would have been a deeply competitive candidate in the leadership election.
As a result, Marilyn Gladu remains the only women who is competing in the leadership contest. This announcement will be celebrated by the veteran Tory candidates like Peter MacKay and Erin O’Toole, who risked having their vote share divided.
Newly elected Conservative Member of Parliment Derek Sloan is running to become leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.
Sloan was elected in the recent 2019 election for the constituency of Hastings-Lennox and Adlington in Ontario. Being a new MP, it is unclear how Sloan intends to make much of an impact in the leadership contest that has seasoned veterans, such as Peter MacKay and Erin O’Toole.
Sloan declared his leadership intentions on Twitter, telling his 931 followers “I’m in. It’s time to stop being afraid to be Conservative. Stay tuned.”
In a news release sent out on Wednesday, Sloan stated that he was “actively involved in the Conservative Party both as a student at Queen’s University and in the local riding.”
Before entering politics, Sloan worked as a lawyer and business-owner. In 2019, Sloan, in his mid thirties, defeated the incumbent Liberal candidate by more than 2,000 votes.
Sloan will be fighting an uphill battle. The leadership hopeful will have to pay a non-refundable $200,000 entry fee, and also has to collect 3,000 signatures by March 25.
Rick Peterson, who is a venture capitalist from Alberta, will announce his leadership bid for the leadership of the Conservative Party in the next few days.
Peterson told The Post Millennial, that his supporters were “now collecting signatures and he has filed papers with the Party.” Peterson went on to say that he “will be the voice of Western Canada and the resource sector.”
Peterson appears to only have thrown his hat in the ring after Rona Ambrose reportedly stepped aside from the contest. Peterson hopes to “fill the void that appears to be left with no signs that Ambrose is running.”
Despite being encouraged to enter the leadership race by Jason Kenney, and Brad Wall, Ambrose reportedly does not want to leave her non-political life, although rumours of her bid are still swirling.
Peterson considers the carbon tax to be a job destroyer and would most likely kill it if he ever became leader. As well as this, Peterson is widely considered a fiscal conservative. Peterson ran in the Conservative leadership contest in 2017, finishing 12th.
Jean Charest has announced that he will not be running in the Conservative leadership contest after weeks of speculation.
His announcement, however, has caused a great deal of confusion in the media, as the Quebec-based news publication La Presse first confirmed that Charest was running and then quickly delated it after more reports emerged minutes later contradicting this report.
Soon after this, the French-speaking arm of the CBC confirmed that Charest would not be running in a tweet, which the English anchor Rosemary Barton soon confirmed to the CBC’s English audience.
Much pressure has been placed on Charest by respected figures within the Conservative Party. Stephan Harper, for instance, reportedly resigned from the Tory’s fund board so that he could openly campaign against the former Quebec Liberal.
As well as this, MacKay and Charest were not intending to run against each other due to their long relationship in Conservative politics. MacKay, however, has consistently placed ahead of Charest in the polls, making any leadership attempt seemingly futile for the Quebecker.
What is notable about Charest’s decision, however, is that this may beckon in Vincenzo Guzzo’s leadership contest who previously stated to The Post Millennial that if Charest “doesn’t run I’ll run.”
Charest is currently under investigation for corruption during his time as premier. The investigation has been ongoing for six years, and so far, has not led to charges against anyone involved.
Jean Charest said in a statement that “After careful consideration, I will not be running for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada. I am grateful to all those who called me, sent supportive messages and mobilized for my potential candidacy.”
“On environmental issues, the CPC must offer Canadians a credible and ambitious plan in regard to the management of our natural resources and the fight against climate change. One does not exclude the other!”