Even amidst an ongoing pandemic, women across the country are organizing (formally and informally) to use our voices, our resources and our networks to ensure our priorities are represented at all levels of government.
But female candidates – especially BIPOC women – must navigate a far more complex set of issues, biases and expectations to be seen as credible and as electable as their white male candidate counterparts. And women must juggle all of these obstacles with a smile, even when being repeatedly interrupted.
Join us for a fascinating conversation with three diverse female candidates from across the political spectrum about what motivates them, what they’re most proud of, and what it was like to run a campaign during COVID-19.
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Lauren van den Berg, Equal Voice Toronto Committee member, EVP, Government Relations, Restaurants Canada
Currently the Executive Vice-President of Government Relations with Restaurants Canada, Lauren has an excellent track record of successful public affairs leadership across the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors, and brings a wealth of experience in government relations, public affairs and strategic communications. She currently serves as Vice-Chair of the VentureKids Board of Directors, the R&O Committee Chair for the Canadian Advocacy Network, and is on the board of Equal Voice – Toronto Chapter.
Lauren holds an Executive MBA Certificate from McGill University, a Masters degree in Public Policy and Administration from Carleton University, and a Bachelor (Hons.) from McGill University in Political Science and Economics. She lives in Toronto with her awesome husband and adorable son. And she fervently believes that Montreal bagels are superior to all others.
Larisa Julius, Scarborough (NDP)
Larisa Julius is a recent graduate from the Children, Childhood and Youth Honours Program at York University and is currently completing her final year at the York University Faculty of Education. She works part-time with the Toronto Public Library as a Public Service Assistant. Outside of school and work Larisa is involved with her community as a political candidate. Running a federal campaign in 2021 gave her a chance to connect deeply with the Scarborough-Agincourt community and learn about the electoral process, digital and ground-level marketing, and engage in social and political discussions with a focus on systemic solutions.
Larisa approaches projects with an open-minded, inclusive, anti-oppression background and actively seeks out projects that challenge social growth and positive change in communities. Larisa is a strong believer in the power of one for all and all for one and strives to create a platform for creativity and leadership. As a minority woman, Larisa believes in creating space for people of all walks of life to influence change and growth. Most importantly, Larisa aspires to continually contribute and strengthen public access to education and to empower and create pivotal changes to oppressive systems and close access/equity gaps.
Ya ara Saks, York Centre (Liberal)
Ya’ara Saks is a Member of Parliament for York Centre in Toronto. As a long-time community advocate and Bathurst Manor resident, she is committed to making life better for families in York Centre.
Ya’ara brings a Canadian and global perspective to the work it takes to create community engagement and achieve real progress. She believes deeply in the values of equality and diversity and has devoted her career to addressing societal inequalities. She has experience in advisory roles for policy, communications, and project management, having worked in the Office of the Mayor of Jerusalem and in advancing people to people programs as part of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Before her election in 2020, Ya’ara was a successful small business owner and a strong advocate for better access to mental health services as a founder and director of Trauma Practice for Healthy Communities, a Toronto-based mental health charity.
She holds an undergraduate degree from McGill University in Political Science and Middle East Studies, a master’s degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in International Relations and Diplomacy, and is the mother of two teenage daughters.
Krystina Waler, St. Catharines (Conservative)
Krystina’s career has been centred around helping people who need it most. Krystina is currently the interim executive director of a charity that focuses on helping children who are orphaned abroad with mental health supports and learning skills and trades to prepare them for life as adults. Krystina has organized 7 medical missions overseas staffed with Canadian medical teams to treat persons injured from military conflicts. She has also served as the director of a surgical education & training partnership in association with Sunnybrook Health Sciences.
Krystina was born and raised in St. Catharines and attended Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School. The granddaughter of immigrants who came from Ireland and war-torn Ukraine to find a better life, Krystina grew up learning the importance of giving back to her community and country. She treasures the values, freedoms, and opportunities that Canada provides and hopes to one day be a strong local voice for St. Catharines in Ottawa.
Krystina earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from Wilfrid Laurier University, and a Master of Science in Health Technology Assessment and Management from the University of Toronto with a focus on how to best use health care technology to improve the quality of life of people around the world.