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CANDIDATE: Colleen Ross (Grand Forks)
To see a list of all the available candidate profiles click here.
Please give a brief summary of who you are and why you have decided to run for office.
I am an activist, who has been working for over 30 years to build awareness about the critical importance of rebuilding local food systems. I have been farming for over 30 years, in Australia, Ontario and now here, in Grand Forks. I am the mother of three young adult children who I am immensely proud of.
I am running for City Council in Grand Forks because I believe that there is so much more potential for this region, with Grand Forks as the central hub. Grand Forks is a great place to live, but we need to give families and young people more reasons to actually “settle down” here.
What is your background? Have you held office before? What skills do you bring to the job if you are elected?
I have travelled extensively working with governments and organizations to develop policies that support healthy food and farming systems, and creates opportunities for employment and healthy community development. I have worked at the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the parliament of Canada and other international and national arenas advocating for the rights of farmers, peasants, women and communities.
I served for 12 years as an elected official on the executive of the National Farmers Union of Canada, holding several leadership positions, including Women’s President and Vice President, overseeing policy development and implementation. I was on the board of Food Secure Canada for several years and have been on the steering committee of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network for over 10 years. I have served on other committees and boards, including local school parent council in Australia.
My skills as a leader and elected official are extensive. My experience working at local, national and international levels has prepared me well to tackle local issues in my new home of Grand Forks. Decisions that are made at a national or international level do in fact impact local viability in a negative way. But, local governments have the ability to opt out of agreements and work more autonomously to ensure that our communities actually thrive. I’ve seen amazing models of small cities that are unique and sustainable, while offering a beautiful, exciting and secure place to live.
What do you think are the top three challenges facing the city/region/school district in the upcoming term?
- Attracting young families to actually want to “settle down” here.
- Protecting and managing our natural resources in the city.
- Revitalizing the downtown core so that GF is a destination, not a drive through community.
How do you plan on addressing these challenges?
The downtown core is fading away. We need to get visitors and locals to shop and socialize closer to home. Create fun events that celebrate the amazing unique talent and beauty of Grand Forks and the surrounding region. Make these events family friendly, blending the country with the urban...nature, food, wild spaces with art, music and fun. This is Grand Forks and the Boundary Region! Small businesses won’t take a chance in a town where people leave to do their shopping. Give people more of a reason to stay here. This will take a while, but let’s start having more regular events that capitalize on our unique beauty, heritage and local talent.
Our surrounding natural resources, including rivers and forests must be protected and enjoyed. We have much to be grateful for in this region. Wild live and wild spaces, farm land and natural walking trails mingle with the city core. This is unique and special. Let’s show the world how we value this, by making meaningful long term decisions that ensures these assets are protected and enhanced for the next seven generations and beyond.
Since moving here only two years ago I have met amazing, smart, talented young people. Sadly, I’ve seen many move here, struggle to survive and have to move elsewhere to make viable livings. Let’s encourage young people to stay here by making Grand Forks a progressive place for them to stay, get involved and create opportunities that inspire them to “settle down” right here. Grand Forks is rooted in a rich history. Let’s make today and our future one that is equally inspiring and unique, while being a fun, safe, healthier, and exciting place to live.
If you could describe yourself in three words what would they be?
Generous, responsible, engaging
What is the one thing that makes you stand out as a candidate? (Or) What is the one thing you want people to know about you?
I could have settled anywhere in Canada, but I chose to live in Grand Forks, and purchase a small farm here. I am committed to this region and to Grand Forks because I love it here. We have sun, soil, water and so much natural beauty here, but, like many struggling communities, there are serious issues that need addressing.
I’m interesting, fun, smart and experienced as a leader and advocate. I bring knowledge and vision for building a better community that is socially just, fair, healthier, and a better place for everyone to live including youth, women, families and our elders.