Racelle Kooy felt the call to serve as a member of parliament quicken after attending her first climate strike at the BC Legislature. Children were leaving school to stand up for their future, all the while Canadians were still grappling with the fact that we had become Trans Mountain pipeline owners, on the heels of the another mega wildfire season.
Racelle is honoured to call Victoria, unceded homeland of the Lekwengen speaking people, the Songhees and Esquimalt, home. Born and raised in British Columbia, she is a member of Samahquam First Nation and has strong family ties to Stswecem’c Xgat’tem. Coming from a commercial fishing family, Racelle is delighted to once again live on the shores of the Salish Sea. She came to Victoria after being displaced by the 2017 wildfires. As she says, “climate change came knocking at my door in the form of the first of 2 mega wildfire seasons. Here in Victoria, it’s a privilege to breath in the ocean air and know that my neighbours include past colleagues and high school friends who have also chosen to call Victoria home.”
Racelle Kooy works locally and across Canada as a bilingual co-chair and lead facilitator. She steps into the hard places of needed dialogue, be it the realities of natural disaster, polarizing views on energy, housing, women’s rights, or language loss. She served as the bilingual co-chair for the Assembly of First Nations, and as lead facilitator for a number of federal ministers, including the Minister of Health as well as the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations. The first project she managed after graduating with a business degree in tourism from l’Université du Québec à Montreal, was for the Fairmont Hotels in Quebec City. She successfully engaged with all levels of government, private business, religious orders and the local First Nation- all very indicative of the nature of the work she would continue to excel at for the past 20 years. Racelle has brought a unique Canadian voice to regional, national and global platforms like the Cannes International Film Festival and the inaugural live broadcast launch of Aboriginal People’s Television Network.
Racelle Kooy is the Shadow Cabinet Critic on mental health and addiction. As a community engagement specialist, Racelle understands the multi-layered dynamics of dealing with complex issues like addiction and mental health. Her relation to the portfolio is deeply personal as she has lost family members and friends who struggled with addiction and mental health issues, many of whom actively sought help.
She lost her brother Martin to a heroin overdose in 1997. Racelle’s graduate research was disrupted as the community she was working with, Stswecem’c Xgat’tem (a rural-remote First Nation in central BC), was in crisis due to a crystal meth outbreak. She actively supports many who walk the path of recovery. She celebrates her parents’ journey and positive impacts as trained cognitive therapy counsellors who went on to run an Alcoholic Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous program through a faith-based community for over twenty years. Racelle is deeply thankful to the front-line workers on the streets, in the hospitals and institutes as well as the change makers who are working on effective policy. She finds Victoria to be a place of stark contrasts. It is where so many, including her now deceased cousin, struggle with homelessness, mental health and addiction. It is also the epicentre of research and pilot projects such as the Centre for Addiction Research of BC, Canada Research Chair in Substance Use, Addictions and Health Services Research, Aids Vancouver Island, Umbrella Society, and South Island Community Overdose Response Network. The Green Party of Canada views the opioid crisis as a health crisis and not a criminal matter, advocating that it be declared a national emergency.
Global Citizen with an international perspective, Serial Innovator with experience in solving real time needs, Intellectual grounded in grassroot realities; these are the reasons why I endorse Annamie Paul for leader of the Green Party of Canada.
To shed some light on my endorsement - a quick background about my perspective. Prior to running as the GPC candidate for Victoria in the 2019 federal election, I regularly engaged with government representatives, but I was not one, as the nature of my work required non-partisanship. I connected with the Green Party of Canada through the need to fight the impacts of climate change and to challenge the widening gap of social inequalities. Many of these inequities have been brought to the forefront during this time of COVID-19 pandemic. The Green Party of Canada’s calls for social justice are now being demanded by a great many: universal basic income, housing as a human right, decriminalization of illicit drugs and ensuring safe supply, to name a few.
Annamie Paul joined the Green Party for the same reasons that I did. Like me, she has only ever had one political home, the Green Party of Canada, and she is fully committed to its members. I came to know Annamie Paul, first as fellow 2019 Green Party of Canada federal candidates and later as members of the GPC Shadow Cabinet. I know that she is authentic, with the highest standards of professional and political ethics.
As a First Nations woman who has lived and worked around the globe and on reserve, from the City Hall of Cannes to the Assembly of First Nations, I am witness to the importance of diversity at the de tables where decisions are taken. Diversity deepens our collective wisdom and strengthens the overall resiliency of society. As a Black woman, Annamie Paul has a lived experience that allows her to see things that others may fail to notice.
We don’t need more of the same old representation in politics. Annamie Paul has an eyes wide open approach to political engagement, drawing on her in-depth international and Canadian public policy expertise. I know that we can count on Annamie Paul to engage with all Canadians and connect them to the core values and policies of the Green Party of Canada. She will grow the party and our platform for the benefit of all Canadians, and I am proud to endorse her.