by Stephen Dafoe
Stony Plain resident and educator Kendra Mills is running under the NDP banner in Sturgeon River-Parkland, hoping to give progressive voters a choice in the upcoming federal election.
Mills has lived in Stony Plain her entire life. After graduating high school in 2012, she studied and became a teacher, first teaching in the area and then taking on a position in the St. Paul-Cold Lake area.
Having recently moved back to Stony Plain to do graduate school in sociology, she felt the time was perfect for running for public office.
“I was quite concerned from a democratic perspective when I looked at our ballot [options] when the election was first announced,” she said. “All of our candidates were right of centre. As an educator, that is hard for me to accept that. I think to have a true sense in this riding of what the people want, we need someone from every background on that ballot.”
Mills said she has subsequently learned since deciding to run that there are many voices in the riding not being heard because of a lack of options.
The National Issues
Noting that COVID-19 is currently an issue facing the region and the country, Mills sees health care as a significant national issue as the country comes out of the pandemic.
“I think Canadians are realizing that health care is very inequitable and very unaffordable, especially for the seniors,” Mills said.
“I think internationally people see Canadians as having this great robust pharmacare program, but I think there’s room to grow, and I’m hearing that from a lot of constituents in the riding as well.”
Mills said diversity and reconciliation are two other areas of great importance nationally.
“Our current government and several governments before have really failed to take action on reconciliation,” she said. “There’s been a lot of talk. I think Canadians are ready for a government that is going to take action.”
The Regional Issues
Mills sees the economy and jobs as the big issue for Sturgeon River-Parkland residents.
“I think there is this false narrative or false idea that NDP and progressive candidates don’t care about jobs and the economy,” she said, noting rural Albertans have made a huge contribution with respect to agriculture and oil and gas, and they want that to be recognized. “But they also want to see these industries move forward and have the support to move forward and have the region become a leader again in innovation.”
Mills says as a lifelong resident of the region; she sees innovation, technology and industry at the front of her mind.
“There is a way to bring us into the 21st century by providing support for retraining and recognizing that there are so many companies here that have made a difference for the national economy and the international economy,” she said. “But it’s making them better, and I think as Albertans, we always want to be better, and we always want to strive to be first. I think we should recognize that.”
Mills hopes that her lifelong residency and understanding of the region and its residents will translate into votes.
“I think I have a sense of the communities here and the fact that they want to stand up for each other,” she said. “There communities are tight-knit and a little bit insular, but the people here – if their neighbours need something – everyone is willing to help. I think there is something to be said for someone who comes from that.”
Beyond that, Mills sees her background as a teacher trained to listen to and empower different voices as an asset.
She has recently spent some campaign time meeting with people in various parks in the municipalities of Sturgeon River-Parkland, including the Morinville Centennial Community Gardens.
“I love doing that and just listening to people,” she said, noting she has even had the opportunity to speak to and hear from lifelong Conservative voters. “I think that is something that has lacked in this riding. I think my strength is in listening to different perspectives.”
More information on Kendal Mills and her campaign can be found online at https://www.facebook.com/kendrasmillsNDP
Election day is Sept. 20.