Niara van Gaalen

Age: 27


Niara van Gaalen studies architecture at the University of Waterloo.

“You may not be able to vote for me, but I would still like to represent you.”

When I heard Mike Morrice say these words, I knew that I was truly on board with his campaign to become the member of Parliament for Kitchener Centre. As a first-generation immigrant Mike’s interest in connecting with permanent residents truly impressed me.

The first time I went canvassing with Mike and his team, we worked in the Forest Hill neighbourhood surrounding my former middle school. Many of the immigrants and refugee who live in the poorer parts of the neighbourhood have never had someone seeking political office knock on their door. Although Mike is not an immigrant himself, he understands that speaking with newcomers is critical to representing all of Kitchener Centre.

I know that the Green Party of Canada is. This can make the party seem unappealing to people of colour and recent immigrants. I also realise that someone such as Mike has not lived the experience of starting a new life in another country. He cannot understand the struggles of newcomers in the same way as another immigrant does.

What makes up for that, in my opinion, is that Mike is seeking to engage all of us in the democratic process at a grassroots level. Democracy means lacing up your boots and knocking on doors, putting up signs, and speaking with your neighbours. That is what creates a government by and for the people of our country. Mike Morrice is doing that work.

As an eighteen-year-old, first-time voter, my most critical issue is climate change. We already know that the world will be vastly worse off as a result of the climate crisis by the time I am only thirty years old.

Runaway climate change has already begun. People at the margins, both here in Canada and abroad, will be hit the hardest. Many immigrants have relatives in poor countries around the world. Reducing the negative effects of climate change will be even more important to the wellbeing of people in poor nations than it is for us in Canada.

This is another reason why I support Mike’s campaign. Mike and his party have never backtracked on their commitment to stopping climate change. For me, that alone is enough to earn my support.

Electing Mike alone will not be enough to stop the climate crisis. It is not going to fix all our problems. But having him in parliament will mean that Kitchener Centre has a representative who knows where our concerns and our values lie. And I know that as our representative he will speak up for the most important issue of our time.