The Green Party of Canada has nominated Dryden elementary school teacher Ember McKillop as its candidate for the Kenora riding in October’s federal election.
McKillop has resided in cities, small towns, and remote First Nations communities across Northern Ontario, giving her what the Green Party describes as a “unique and hopeful perspective for the Kenora region.”
Outside of the classroom, McKillop is part of the Disaster Response Team for the Canadian Red Cross in Dryden and Pickle Lake. She also volunteers at the Second Chance Pet Network, Bird Studies Canada, and the Pickle Lake Food Distribution Network.
As the chief financial officer, researcher, and speechwriter for her husband Tim’s campaign in the 2014 provincial election, McKillop was inspired by the Green Party platform to get into politics herself.
“As I was going through the provincial platform, everything in it just really made sense for what I was looking for in a party,” explains McKillop. “I can really stand behind the Green Party platform. I really believe that change is coming, and I want to help that change along.”
Long-term sustainability for both the economy and the environment are at the forefront of McKillop’s campaign.
“Jobs are a common issue across the country of course, but in our region, our towns are very much boom and bust. We’re built on resource extraction,” says McKillop. “The Green Party supports resource extraction; however, their focus is really on long-term sustainability to keep communities and the environment strong.”
“The other thing too is that we’re looking at the effects of climate, water, and soil pollution, which is huge in our area. It hasn’t really been a focus yet, and it really needs to be.”
McKillop points to issues faced by remote First Nations communities in the region as another cause for concern.
“We’ve got a huge number of isolated communities and the conditions that they face in a lot of these communities, we would never consider them acceptable anywhere in Canada,” says McKillop. “I don’t think a lot of people really understand what it’s like in First Nations communities. I’ve only spent a short amount of time up there, but as a teacher I’ve taught a lot of kids who’ve come in and out of reserves, and it’s heartbreaking.”
McKillop also hopes to fix the gap in funding between federal and provincial schools that affects First Nations people.
“There’s a problem when you’ve got a community that half of the population is under 24 and with a 35 per cent graduation rate, you really need to strengthen those communities in more ways than one.”
McKillop is up against Conservative incumbent Greg Rickford, former NDP MPP Howard Hampton, and former Liberal MP Bob Nault for the Kenora seat in October’s federal election.