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Foster your political ambition through mentorship

As you might know, interVivos is big on community engagement and making an impact where

you live. The most recent municipal election took place a year ago, and we thought this

would now be an excellent time to check in with some of our friends who ran for municipal

government in October 2021: Giselle General, Shamair Turner, and Kassie Burkholder.

Two former protégés, Giselle and Shamair, ran for Edmonton City Council. Kassie, a former

interVivos board member, ran for Edmonton Public School Board Trustee. Although none of

them won a seat, we were proud that they took this step and asked all three of them to talk to

us about their experience and how their involvement with interVivos made a difference.

The interVivos experience

All three believe their experience with interVivos helped them grow and was invaluable in

their run for municipal politics. For Kassie, her time with the board included planning and

participating in many events and programs, which helped shape her political perspective.

Shamair quickly pointed out how pivotal her mentor was as a communications professional

in assisting her with branding and key messages, which she says is necessary because you

have only a few minutes at a door or a few seconds online to connect with people and keep

their attention.

Giselle, Shamair, and Kassie see many advantages from their time with interVivos while being

involved in politics beyond the support of a mentor. These included the opportunity to

engage with Edmontonians to share their missions, network, and be exposed to new

perspectives they otherwise may not have experienced. Giselle specifically shared her

support for the program’s value and that the protégé registration fee had been worth it for

her many times.

Support from mentors

Giselle and Shamair had decided long before getting involved in the interVivos mentorship

program that they would run for public office. Giselle, who has participated as a protégé three

times, recalls that even at her first launch event, she was quite direct and told mentors, “I

need to gain some insights and advice because I am running for city council in 2021!”.

Shamair had already announced her candidacy and participated in the mentorship program

in tandem with her campaign.

Giselle’s three interVivos mentors all offered different forms of support, from specific project

support, like assisting her in building a skills-based resume and getting onto the Edmonton

Transit Service Advisory Board, to help her increase her confidence and find motivation.

Giselle’s first mentor gave her two key pieces of advice she still holds on to “don’t sell

yourself short,” and “hope for the best, expect the worst, and plan for both.”

As BIPOC women, both Giselle and Shamair appreciated their BIPOC mentors. For Giselle, it

was grounding to hear her mentor share, “yeah, for women of colour like us, it’s still going to

suck, and it’s going to suck in this way.” Shamair, a protégé during the Fall 2020 BIPOC

Membership Program, described the experience of having a BIPOC mentor as a bit of a cheat

sheet that allowed for ease of understanding. “For me, it was particularly valuable to have

someone I could communicate with that there wasn’t the need for the extra explanation in

terms of some of the experiences I was running into and the hurdles.”

Wisdom for those running for office

Our friends both offered some great advice for those looking into running for office. Giselle

suggested becoming more self-aware by doing a privilege exercise comparing your points of

privilege and marginalization. Both Shamair and Kassie advocated for building a strong and

supportive team.

Moving forward

While none of them won their seat, they didn’t let that disappointment overcome them.

Shamair had set numerous goals for her campaign and was pleased that she’d met several of

them and had many team successes. She spoke of election night fondly. “I looked around the

room, and it was like, ‘look at all of this that we built. How could we be unhappy with where

we are right now?”

Kassie similarly didn’t view the experience as a loss. “I ran a positive campaign, connected

with hundreds of my neighbours, and talked about issues that I am passionate about and am

proud of.”

Giselle was honest about her disappointment with the voting results. “Had I won, I would

have been the first Filipino-Canadian councillor in Edmonton. So, for me, this hurts.” She

shared that she’s working through her feelings about the campaign with her therapist and

stresses the importance of self-care both during and after the campaign.

Thank you to Giselle, Shamair, and Kassie for putting their names forward for the sake of

democracy. We also appreciate them taking the time to have an important conversation with

us. Our Winter 2022 Mentorship Program launches this December. Whether or not politics are

in your future, we encourage you to register for the program and see what a mentor can help

you achieve. Follow us on social media (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter) or join

our mailing list so you don’t miss your chance to register as a protégé.


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