Aaron Paquette is the new Ward 4 councillor-elect and the first member of Edmonton’s city council with a Metis background.
Paquette, whose father is Cree and Metis, captured nearly 24 per cent of the vote Monday night, ahead of Rocco Caterina (17 per cent), Alison Poste (13 per cent) and Tricia Velthuizen (11 per cent).
“I am humbled by the position. I think the campaign went great. We worked hard, we were relentless, all because we felt the northeast deserved a stronger voice and we hope to deliver that,” Paquette said.
Mayor-elect Don Iveson said while it’s significant to have the city’s first Metis councillor, Paquette will be working for all Ward 4 constituents.
“Just like when I was elected at 28 and people said, ‘Oh, you’re the youth councillor now,’ I think we need to be really, really careful not to assign responsibility for a certain community that a councillor comes from,” Iveson said.
“That said, the significance of the face of our council beginning to better reflect the diversity we see not just in Ward 4, but across the city, is a good thing.”
Paquette, who replaces the outgoing Ed Gibbons, is an Indigenous artist and author, and has worked with Alberta Education and other school boards to teach art and develop curriculum and increase student academic achievement.
His priority is to give the northeast end of the city a strong voice in council.
“We want to make sure that we’re on the map, that we’re not left behind and that as the city grows, the northeast becomes an integral part of that,” Paquette said.
Watch below: Gord Steinke sits down with Paquette, who takes over from outgoing councillor Ed Gibbons.
The new councillor-elect ran on a promise to get more services in Ward 4, like parks, schools, businesses and recreational centres. Paquette also said he’ll push for better transportation in the area so neighbourhoods are connected to downtown and one another.
“My focus is that every family, every person in Ward 4 feels like they’re heard, that they have a place that they belong and that they can work toward the future that they dream of,” Paquette said.
Paquette will be one of four new councillors, and he’s optimistic about what the new city council can accomplish.
“I’m excited personally to be able to work with the new people. We are going to craft a great vision for Edmonton,” Paquette said.
“It’s going to start with taking care of the nuts and bolts, have a strong base and then we can see where that takes us.”
Ed Gibbons served on city council for five terms.