Inverness NDP candidate Joanna Clark

PORT HOOD: The NDP candidate in Inverness says now is the perfect time for drastic change, as we need bold solutions to the systems that have been strained for far too long.

Recent university graduate Joanna Clark, who has lived in Port Hood the majority of her life and is a substitute teacher, indicated she believes in a thriving Inverness and it’s important for young people to use their voices in a powerful way.

“We need to amplify that voice. A lot of the narrative over the past few years has been focused on youth-adolescent apathy, however it is time for us to stand up and change the narrative,” Clark told The Reporter. “Young folks care about many issues such as the student-debt crisis, the climate crisis, access to mental health services, and equitable healthcare.”

As she has become older, she has come to genuinely appreciate the beauty of this town and this island; recognizing that she lives in an amazing community.

Over the past five years, the 26-year-old mother has been involved in advocating for accessible and equitable post-secondary education, affordable childcare, and improvements on sexual violence prevention.

“My dedication to these issues and many more has led me to fight for the things rural Inverness communities need,” Clark said. “As a recent graduate from university, a teacher, and a young mom in a rural community, I have developed a passion for issues young people are currently facing, like the high cost of living, lack of housing and childcare, and low wages.”

After graduating high school from Dalbrae Academy in 2013, Clark attended Université Sainte-Anne, where she completed a Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Education (BA/BEd), which was mostly completed in French.

“My time in university is what sparked my interest in politics,” she said. “I became involved in my student’s union and later a member of the provincial executive for the Canadian Federation of Students.”

While she suggested much of her work has been focused on student issues, she has come to realize that those core issues are not unique to students, but rather they are issues most people are facing in our province, and especially our rural communities.

“It kind of makes this natural jump from students to everyone else,” Clark said. “The NDP presents a lot of progressive and drastic solutions to problems that have just been exacerbated and highlighted in the past year.”

It’s time, she said, to come to the table with these drastic solutions if we want to see substantial change coming out of the pandemic.

She highlights one of her personal skills that would not only benefit her representing her potential constituents in Halifax, but also one that would help her connect with some on a more personal level.

“As I am fluent in both French and English, I am able to not only represent constituents in Acadian communities,” Clark explained, “but (also) to work with them on the things that matter to them.”

She indicated she couldn’t be more proud to be a representative for a political party that has nominated a historic number of women and gender-diverse candidates as the NDP have.

“It’s a really cool opportunity to be a part of something that goes in line with a better vision for the future,” Clark said. “I think it’s important to amplify all the different voices we have around the table, and at the end of the day, that’s how we achieve an equitable society.”