Maskwacis woman wants to make a difference after Ottawa experience

Granddaughter of Wilton Littlechild might one day follow his steps

It may be too early to say whether Shaynna Roan will follow the footsteps of her famous grandfather, former Alberta MP Wilton Littlechild.

She’s on the right path though — having already sat in the House of Commons at the young age of 19, and studying International studies at university with an eye toward international law.

Roan and Littlechild are members of the Ermineskin Cree Nation in Maskwacis.

She was one of the Daughters of the Vote — 338 young women from across Canada who sat in the House of Commons parliamentary seats in Ottawa on Wednesday, International Women’s Day. The group also attended seminars and met politicians all week in Ottawa.

Daughters of the Voice was organized by Equal Voice, a national multi-partisan organization focused on electing more women to political office in Canada.

“It was a really great experience. Not that many people get to sit in the House of Commons, especially as an indigenous woman,” Roan said between airports on her way home Friday.

She went into the event not knowing what to expect. She learned about the struggle other women face politically, or just daily. Did it inspire her to one day enter politics?

“Before this I was always kind of thinking about it but was a little hesitant because I had no idea really what it’s like, but after this experience it makes you want to make a big difference.”

She said that once she waited over three hours to see Prime Minister Justin Trudeau when he was speaking at a small venue on the University of Saskatchewan campus in Saskatoon. But she never did get to meet him.

Little did she know that she would eventually see him in the House of Commons when he addressed the Daughters of the Voice on Wednesday, as did the only woman to ever be prime minister, Kim Campbell.

Roan missed school to attend the event however she said she probably learned so much more than if she had been in class.

For one thing, she met other indigenous woman from across Canada, and she said her eyes were opened to the Islamophobia that some Muslim women face.

Her grandfather, also known as Willie Littlechild, served as a member of Parliament from 1988 to 1993 for the riding of Wetaskiwin-Rimbey, and was a parliamentary delegate to the United Nations.

He co-chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which travelled across Canada to allow survivors of residential schools to share their stories. He also served as North American representative to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

He was the first Treaty First Nation person to earn his law degree from the University of Alberta, in 1976. He was also an accomplished athlete.

Roan said her grandfather was right when he told her before she went to Ottawa that it would be a great experience.

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