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Aboriginal activist to run for Vision

A long-time community activist hopes to become what he believes is the first person from the Aboriginal community to be elected in Vancouver city politics.

Ken Clement, executive director of Healing our Spirit B.C. Aboriginal HIV/AIDS society, will run for a school board slot with Vision Vancouver.

“I don't think we've ever had an Aboriginal person on school board, park board or city council,” Clement said.

Clement said his candidacy is the result of meetings with executives from Aboriginal groups around the city.

“We felt it was time to have our voices heard,” he said. “There has never been an Aboriginal voice in city politics. I think the time is right for the Aboriginal community to step forward to present a lot of our issues.”

Clement will become the last declared candidate for Vision Vancouver, which has capped its nomination list at 37. There are 17 candidates for council, 12 for park board and 8 for school board.

Clement said he had had initially thought about running for a council seat, but thought better of it after seeing the jostling going on for an as-yet undetermined number of spots.

“I looked at the numbers and I did my mathematics,” he said. “Being low-profile outside the Aboriginal community, I thought perhaps looking specifically at education was a better route at this point.”

Clement, a member of the Ktunaxa First Nation near Cranbrook, moved to Vancouver 25 years ago. “I fled the residential school system,” said Clement, who attended St. Eugene's in Cranbrook. “I came to Vancouver in the hopes of seeing the new light of day.”

He now lives in the city's west side.

In 2002, the head of the Vancouver Native Health Society, Lou Demerais, ran for a spot on council. He finished with fewer than 8,000 votes in a year where candidates needed more than 40,000 votes to be elected.


Irwin Loy reports on municipal affairs for 24 hours.

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