We’re at a time right now where we need to be amplifying voices that haven’t been amplified.
MLA Janis Irwin was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta and is currently the Official Opposition Deputy Whip and the Critic for Women and LGBTQ2S+ issues. MLA Irwin is an empowering leader with a passion for communities, education and social justice.
Put yourself out there and show up because you absolutely have something to offer.
MLA Irwin explains, “I am an introvert and historically I’ve been very shy and I’ve had to overcome that, and I look back at the times where I've had to put myself out there and show up to community meetings where no one knows you and they may all dismiss you but show up anyways and offer your support and the skills you have”, she adds “especially women, we tend to sell ourselves short and tend to minimize our gifts and our abilities, I would encourage my young self to not be so reserved and feel like I don’t have something to contribute”. She reiterates, “if you’re unsure and you think you don’t have the experience and you think you are not qualified, you know what, I bet you are and I also bet that a man with similar experiences as you is not asking himself the same questions”.
Fostering support for diverse Albertans beyond tokenism.
Speaking to how her position as a member of the Legislative assembly has invalidated the notion of tokenism towards women, BIPOC and LGBTQ2S+ communities, MLA Irwin says, “my experience is a privileged one but what I can do is try to amplify and uplift their experiences and share their voices in the legislature”. MLA Irwin is committed to tangible action and is striving to work hard to change the diversity in the legislature, stating “we can’t have tokenistic statements that are not followed up by anything concrete”.
Emphasis on the invaluable purpose of an intersectional lens.
“My view of intersectionality is basically looking at the various ways which a person's identities intersect, so we’re talking about gender, race, disabilities, sexuality, religion and the list goes on and we’re also examining privilege as well”. MLA Irwin was proud of the work the previous NDP government did to uplift and give voice to diverse Albertans. “Not just token messages of support, that meant actually adjusting our ABC’s - agencies, boards and commissions - so that women, non binary folks, gender diverse people, folks from the BIPOC community were actually represented”. MLA Irwin stressed “when i look around at our legislature, the diversity of our province is not reflected. I wanna go into that legislature, and not speak for other communities, but to amplify their voices”.
~ DirectHer Network