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