Maira Hassan is a COPE candidate for Vancouver Park Board. Join COPE to help elect Maira and all the other COPE candidates by signing up here.
What is your background and experience? What work have you done in your life or community that is relevant to the office you're seeking?
As a young, South Asian woman who grew up in Canada and is now doing her PhD in law, my work and my lived experience both center social justice and the fight for equality. Professionally, my research focuses on injustices that impact marginalized and racialized populations in Canada. My other experiences, including volunteer work during law school in the UK at the Bethnal Green legal aid centre, providing academic support to Indigenous law students at Allard Law School, and mentorship through art at the UBC Climate Hub, all underline my commitment to equality and building community. These experiences professionally and within the communities I have called home provide a strong foundation for the issues I wish to address at the Park Board – homelessness, reconciliation, and access to services – all of which highlight the need for addressing inequalities and injustices that permeate the city and often manifest in public spaces like Vancouver’s parks and community centres.
- The Spirit of Community: A need to commune | Maira Hassan | TEDxQMUL
What do you like about COPE and why do you think you’ll be a good fit for COPE?
Having volunteered to phone bank and canvass to get out the vote for Jean Swanson, I came to admire the dedication of COPE members and volunteers who emphasize addressing homelessness, rising rents, and gentrification. The housing crisis in Vancouver is palpable, and seeing folks at COPE taking it seriously through advocating for rent control and the mansion tax align with what I believe is necessary for the basic need and right of housing for everyone. COPE’s focus on addressing issues of equality resonates with me and what I do in my legal research work professionally, and what I hope to fight for and see in our city.
What are the big issues you want to highlight during the election campaign and work on while in office?
I hope to highlight three main issues during the election campaign pertaining to the Park Board. The first is the right to housing for people experiencing homelessness. The recent cases of Strathcona and CRAB park tent cities shows how important it is for the Park Board to take a stand in demanding that all levels of government provide housing for the homeless. The era of seeking injunctions to displace people who are homeless from parks has to come to an end and I want to ensure that, while in office, the Park Board takes the responsibility it owes to those residing in parks or tent cities, ensuring adequate housing in consultation with those who are impacted by homelessness.
The second is that of ensuring that the goals of reconciliation are taken seriously and embedded in the ways in which the Board operates. The recent news of co-management with First Nations is a great step. However, it’s imperative that it results in concrete action in ensuring our responsibility towards reconciliation for First Nations and urban Indigenous communities.
The third big issue is ensuring that the city’s parks and community centres really are meant for everyone. There should be adequate representation at the Park Board addressing the issues important to our generation – including, for example, the role of green spaces in the fight for climate justice. This requires, on one level, that those in charge are vested in the interests that encapsulate the different needs of the varying communities of the city, not simply those who have money or own property. The parks belong to us all collectively, and for the generations to come, and that should be reflected in those who hold and exercise power over these spaces.
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