Edmonton-South, one of Canada’s provincial electoral districts in Alberta, Canada has just elected the first Black woman to its Alberta Legislature.
On Monday, Rhiannon Hoyle said it is an “absolute dream” to be elected to the post, a long-fought victory for the woman who hopes she can transform the district for the thousands of constituents she will serve.
“This is such a surreal moment. It’s an absolute dream,” she said after clinching the victory. “I ran municipally and now a couple years later we’re here as the MLA elect. I’m also proud to be representing the first Black and mixed-race and African woman from Trinidad and Tobago. And it’s just really wonderful.”
The politician has been a long-time resident of the district, having lived in Edmonton-South for close to two decades.
Hoyle says she is ecstatic to take on the new role, although she ponders why it has taken so long for a Black woman to take office in the legislative assembly.
“I’m the first and I’m the only one. Black folks have been here for 200 years so at the same time it shows we have a lot more to do and a lot more growth, we need more than just me,” she said.
Deborah Dobbins, the executive director of Shiloh Centre for Multicultural Roots, agrees. As the leader of the non-profit organization created to highlight the journeys and experiences of Black western Canadians in social justice, education and art, she says it is critical to understand the significance Black people have played in the province’s history.
“We helped develop Alberta and the Prairie Provinces when it was first developed in 1905, 6, 7, and we’ve been here ever since,” Dobbins told CTV News Edmonton. “It’s important that we are respected, that we are accepted as being Albertans, not immigrants. We are Albertans who were here when Alberta first became a province.”
She continued: “We should be part of the governing body to move forward, because our voice matters just as much as everyone else. It’s important that young people today see themselves in the leadership, see themselves in places of power and authority, and that they too can rise.”
Now that Hoyle will step into her new role, she says it is important to show generations to come that they have what it takes to follow in her footsteps.
“I’m one perspective but at the same time, for really for anyone of color, boys, girls, anyone in between. This is huge and I will do my best to lead well and lead for others. I’m here to kick the door open and bring others like me into this role.”