Paige F.and Marilyn V.both hail from Brampton and met at Daughters of the Vote (DoV) in 2017. Today, they are part of the leadership team of Vision Brampton, a youth-led advocacy organization. Below, they share about their municipal election campaign, #BramptonsHere, to promote civic engagement as a vector for equity.
How did you both connect and where did the idea for the #BramptonsHere campaign come from?
Paige: We met at DoV in 2017. We are both from Brampton, and bonded over a shared frustration about the systems of power. Brampton, like most large cities, has its issues with equitable governance, and with local politicians making problematic comments that we can’t accept as citizens. There were so many barriers to address that we decided to band together and work towards equitable change.
Marilyn: I gained a strong network with the Brampton DoV delegates. We spent a lot of time in coffee shops and in our cars strategizing on how to effect change from the grassroots. In Brampton, people of colour are the majority, 75% of the population, but our city’s leadership was not representative of us. Voter turnout in the 2014 municipal election was only 36%. With our campaign, we wanted to advance change and send the message that Brampton’s here and we’re paying attention.
What was the goal of the campaign and what activities did you undertake?
P: We had a two-pronged approach. We had a social media campaign with accessible information on the voting process and municipal issues. We also did presentations to community groups. The political process at the municipal/regional level in Brampton was opaque to us and many others– it is difficult to get information. Our city is lacking in robust investigative journalism. Neither Marilyn or myself had ever voted municipally, so we wanted to get ourselves informed and to share that information with other voters.
When you reflect back on the campaign, what are you most proud of?
P: We partnered with a community organization and secured a seat on the panel at the City’s largest Mayoral debate. Marilyn had the opportunity to ask equity-based questions to the candidates – and they were not expecting to hear from us!
M: It is important to know that people did not take us seriously at first. I’m proud that we advocated for the debate organizers to do a land acknowledgement for the very first time. It was important for the audience to hear that.
Do you have any advice you could share with the 2019 DoV delegates as they begin to think about their community-based initiatives?
M: Do your research – if you are trying to change things you need to know the facts. For instance, through our research we found that some local politicians won by very narrow margins, and this made for a more effective argument when we were talking to people about the issues and how much power new voters actually could have collectively. We really had to dig because a lot of the information on municipal landscape was not easy to unpack by ourselves.
P: I learned about the power of a committed collective of individuals. If you avidly look for community, you will find other people looking for action too. And there is democratic power in that collective.