Amanda Lathlin is a proud northerner who has made the plunge into politics. “The main reason why I wanted to run was because I’ve always been involved with my community. I started as a band councilor for Opaskwayak Cree Nation, and the whole part of getting involved in politics at this level is to help people. I had my first opportunity to join boards and committees, became a band councillor, and when this opportunity came up, I have always wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps, and through this position he showed me this is a way to be involved and help.”
Lathlin’s father Oscar Lathlin was MLA for The Pas, served on different committees of the Assembly of First Nations, and was a senior advisor for the government of Canada. Lathlin also worked for the Ministry of Aboriginal and Northern Affairs. He was and still is his daughter’s role model.
“He was the one to inspire me to do this job. I’ve seen the ups and downs with this job. I know it’s not the most glamorous job in the world, there’s a lot of travel and footwork involved, but to me that is probably the best part. Going to people’s homes, having tea, listening to their issues, hearing their concerns and being able to follow up with them, and keeping it personal.”
If she wins the April 21 byelection, Lathlin would be the first female aboriginal MLA in the province, and the first female MLA for The Pas constituency. During this process she hopes to become a role model for women. “As a woman being involved in this process there were questions regarding my family, raising four young girls, and that is who inspired me. I want to become a role model for my daughters, and I want to become a role model for other women out there, especially single-parented families.”
When asked about raising her family and being in politics at the same time, Lathlin asked if the person had asked the male candidate the same question; they didn’t. “I think it’s more on our shoulders as women as we’re the primary caregivers, and it would be an honour to have my name with that as well. It’s OK to get into politics; you’re not going to be a bad parent if you miss one of two events in your children’s lives.”
Lathlin’s goal is to ensure her region remains represented by the NDP and that they continue as the provincial government. Lathlin says she believes in the NDP party because it focuses on investing in training, jobs, and daycare.
The University College of the North (UCN) is the best thing currently in The Pas, says Lathlin, who is currently on leave from her job as the representative workforce co-ordinator at the northern post-secondary institution. “Being employed there I see the wonderful investments the NDP government are providing for our region in terms of training and education, especially the opportunity for high school students to use the trades equipment.”
Lathlin noted she attended the University of Manitoba to complete her bachelor of arts, but UCN now offers the degree, meaning people can stay in the north.
The aspiring MLA has been visiting communities for the past 10 months selling memberships, with the goal of having her name on the ballot. “With my community experience I just believe I am the best person for the job. I am here to stand up for the north, I’m here to focus on the priorities for northern families, and I’m here to work with all communities and I will be inclusive of everyone.”