The Green Party of Alberta made history Saturday by electing the first female Indigenous leader of a party in the province.
Calgary's Cheryle Chagnon-Greyeyes defeated Brian Deheer from Lac la Biche, Alta., in the contest, held during the party's annual general meeting in Red Deer. She replaces former leader Romy Tittel, who resigned in March.
Chagnon-Greyeyes is an Indigenous and environmental activist who works at the University of Calgary. She said through the party, she wants to bring hope to Albertans.
"This is close to my heart. The Green Party is very much close to the Indigenous ways and values. The Green Party principles align with the Seven Sacred Teachings of the Cree," she said.
"For me, this is as close as we get to an Indigenous party, this is as close as we get to a party that cares about Mother Earth and people, not pipelines, not profit."
Chagnon-Greyeyes said while the party's official platform calls for a "moratorium on development of additional tar sands projects," she would like to see the province slowing things down and looking at energy alternatives. And she believes Alberta should be refining its oil in the province, to keep job creation here.
"I'm not naive, so much as maybe obnoxiously optimistic … because I believe that we can be better," she said.
"We need the Green Party voice in this province because it's lacking hope. All we have is a lot of anger, a lot of pipeline talk, a lot of fear, and a lot of coercion and bullying, so we have to have other options," she said.
Marco Reid, the party's president, said the first order of business is to get as many Albertans as possible to know Chagnon-Greyeyes's face before the next election. The party hopes to get 50 candidates for the next provincial election.
Reid said it's time Albertans take a closer look at what the Green Party has to offer.
"Our party, when you hear our name and when you hear our policy, doesn't immediately connect or composite well with current policy or current culture, but when you do open us up and actually get to know about us, we are perfectly aligned and perfectly aware of the reality that we are in."