Our Future YOUR Path

Building Diversity for a Brighter Future in Political Leadership






OUR FUTURE YOUR PATH, Preparing for a Better Future with Greater Diversity in Political Leadership, is a new initiative championed by the NWDLC in partnership with PowHERhouse Impact Media Group.

NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C., April 19, 2021 - A FireCircle gathering on May 29, 2021 launches an innovative, inviting, and inclusive comprehensive engagement and preparatory program for women and non-binary people who may be interested in running a political campaign in the next one to five years.

The virtual FireCircle is a Saturday morning gathering hosted and championed by individuals who have held or are holding public office for individuals interested to learn more about public office and explore the possibility of preparing for it in the future. The FireCircle is designed to convene, inspire, and mobilize women and non-binary people to consider expanding their leadership through this unique and inclusive opportunity - OUR FUTURE YOUR PATH - to potentially prepare for public office.


Honourable Melanie Mark

Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport
Vancouver-Mount Pleasant

Elected in 2016, HLI HAYKWHL ẂII XSGAAK, 馬蘭妮, Melanie Mark, is the first First Nations woman Member of the Legislative Assembly in British Columbia's history, representing the riding of Vancouver-Mount Pleasant. During the 41st Parliament, she was appointed as the Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. Today, Melanie remains the only First Nations woman to serve in cabinet as B.C.'s new Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. Melanie is Nisga'a, Gitxsan, Cree and Ojibway. She was born and raised in East Vancouver and has deep roots in Northern B.C. and Manitoba.

Melanie is unapologetically passionate about social, environmental and economic justice; and she entered politics to disrupt the status quo. Within two months as Minister, she paved a new path by creating the first provincial tuition waiver program for youth from the foster-care system and removed all fees for adults accessing Adult Basic Education. 

She is most proud of her work as Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training to address the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action, namely supporting Indigenous teachers and language fluency, and in 2018 launching the world's first Indigenous Law program at the University of Victoria.

Melanie firmly believes that education is the great equalizer and often says, "a rising tide, lifts all canoes."

Melanie's work is inspired by her daughters Maya and Makayla and the desire for them to have greater access to education and opportunities as they grow up. Family is very important to Melanie, and her time with Maya, Makayla, and her extended family keeps her grounded and motivated.

Melanie graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Simon Fraser University. She holds a Criminology Diploma from Douglas College/Native Education College and an Advanced Executive Certificate from Queen's School of Business. 

Melanie believes strongly that the changes we need to inspire and support future generations, require all of us to get on board and paddle together.


Honourable Katrina Chen

Minister of State for Child Care

Katrina Chen was elected as the MLA for Burnaby-Lougheed in May 2017. She was sworn in as the Minister of State for Child Care in July 2017.

Prior to her election as an MLA, Katrina served as a Trustee on the Burnaby Board of Education, and worked in both provincial and federal constituency offices for over 10 years. She has a Bachelor of Arts from Simon Fraser University with a major in political science and a minor in history, as well as a certificate in Immigration Laws, Policies and Procedures from the University of British Columbia.

Katrina has also worked as a community organizer with ACORN, emceed for major cultural festivals, and volunteered as an executive member for several local non-profit organizations. Katrina was born and raised in Taiwan, and moved to British Columbia many years ago.

As the mother of a young son, Katrina understands that quality, affordable child care gives children a strong foundation for the future and keeps our economy and communities moving by giving parents the option to return to work, go back to school or pursue other opportunities.

Trish M sq (Medium)

Councillor Trish Mandewo

City of Coquitlam

Trish has been a resident of Coquitlam since 2009. She is married to Alexander and they have a fourteen-year-old daughter Alexandra. Trish’s educational background is in Embryology and Clinical Microbiology.  She left the medical field when her daughter was born and became a successful serial entrepreneur. Currently she is the CEO and partner of Ubuntu StratEdge a performance-enabling company that focuses on culture, diversity as well as organizational effectiveness. She is also co-founder of Women’s Collaborative Hub Society, an organization that enhances and supports the best collaborative and empowering environment for youth and women to connect, learn and grow.

Trish has won numerous awards including 2017 RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant and is a recipient of Canada 150 Sesquicentennial pin for leadership and community service. She is a speaker and a book author.

A hardworking and strong believer in community involvement, Trish is committed to public service and with involvement in many community initiatives and boards.



9:00 - 9:15 am Welcome, Land Acknowledgment, and Artist of Impact Creative Performance

9:15 - 10 am Conversation-Starters Guest Panel

10 - 10:15 am Stretch & Bio Break, Deep-Breathing, & Movement

10:15 - 11:15 am Facilitated Small-Group Discussion Pods with Experienced Political Champions Who Care

11:15-11:45 am Listening Circle – Facilitators Share

11:45-12 Next Steps and Closing

We are absolutely thrilled to welcome the following special guests and conversation-starters:

Hli Haykwhl Ẃii Xsgaak The Hon. Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Art, Culture, and Sport, the Hon. Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Child Care, and Trish Mandewo, Coquitlam City Councillor. They will be discussing:

  • What was the specific call for you to enter into political leadership?

  • What is the #1 thing you wish you had known then that you know now?

  • What do you feel most hopeful about regarding politics and what is possible for our future?

Preparing for a Better Future with Greater Diversity in Political Leadership is a new initiative championed by the NWDLC in partnership with PowHERhouse Impact Media Group. It is described as an innovative, inviting, and inclusive comprehensive engagement and preparatory program for women and non-binary people who may be interested in running a political campaign in the next one to five years. Registration is now open for the May 29th FireCircle and is limited to 100 guests.


Learn more about this opportunity: Charlene SanJenko in conversation with Janet Andrews & Coleen Jones

Janet Andrews NWDLC round (Small)

Janet Andrews, NWDLC, Secretary-Treasurer

“The focus of this program is to build a network of diverse and exceptional leaders for municipal political office and school trustee positions. We also acknowledge the value of a runway approach to running for office made possible through union positions, board positions, committee appointments, advisory groups, and volunteering for other campaigns. There’s been talk about building more diversity into politics for years, and we are committed to ensure this talk becomes a tangible and measured reality.” ~ Janet Andrews, NWDLC, Secretary-Treasurer

Janet Andrews is the full-time Secretary-Treasurer of the New Westminster & District Labour Council, which represents over 60,000 union members in fourteen municipalities in the lower mainland of British Columbia.

Janet is proud to be a part of a grass roots, local organization with a strong tradition of workers speaking out on issues affecting them in their workplaces and in their communities. A member of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers Union Local Lodge 764, Janet has served on her Local’s Executive Board, as both Women’s and Political Action Committee Chairperson, on Bargaining Committees and as Chief Steward of her bargaining unit.

Janet is currently serving as one of the labour representatives on the Metro Vancouver Regional Economic Prosperity Management Board and is on the Board of Directors of the United Way of the Lower Mainland. She has a BA in Classical Studies (UBC) and an MA in Classical Archaeology (UBC).

More information on the NWDLC and their work can be found at www.nwdlc.ca, or by contacting nwdlc@shawcable.com

The NWDLC recognizes that successful leaders have benefitted from mentoring and support to run in politics.

In most cases, women and non-binary people must be asked to run for political leadership positions because they don’t see themselves reflected there. The longer-term vision of this initiative is to build a movement where women and non-binary people see themselves in positive and powerful political positions with a clear path to get there.

And the need to be asked becomes a faint and distant memory.

Coleen Jones, President, NWDLC

“This project is both a clear, deliberate call and an invitation to join a preparatory program experience. It is an opportunity for unions to provide tangible support for their members to run for political office in their communities. The NWDLC will be asking our affiliated unions to nominate and support members who identify as women or non-binary, with priority on those also identifying as BIPOC, for this opportunity to gain knowledge, skills and a direct path to success though a simple, proven process." ~ Coleen Jones, President, NWDLC

Coleen Jones NWDLC round (Small)

Coleen Jones started as a temporary letter carrier at the Prince George Post Office in 1989. Her experiences confirmed her belief that workers needed to be treated with dignity and respect, and so she quickly got involved in the Prince George Local of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW).

In Prince George, she held a number of executive positions within the local, and became a WCB advocate.

In 2004, Coleen Jones was elected to the full-time position of Regional Education and Organization Officer of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, Pacific Region. In that capacity Coleen developed educational programs, organized courses and supported Rural and Suburban Mail Carriers in their campaign to achieve equity.

Coleen Jones decided to go back to working as a letter carrier in 2012. She became a member of the CUPW Fraser Valley West Local and continued to work on behalf of postal workers. She became the Grievance Officer of the CUPW Fraser Valley Local and prepared grievances, and presented at arbitration. Coleen became active in the New Westminster and District Labour Council.

In 2019 Coleen was elected as National Director of the Canadian Union of Postal Pacific Region, she is the 1st woman to hold this position, and now sits as one of 6 women of the CUPW National Executive Board, and is a member of the CUPW National Women’s Committee. Coleen is also an executive member of the New Westminster and District Labour Council.

Coleen is the proud mother of two grown sons. She has a dachshund Roscoe, who much to her consternation still barks at the letter carrier.

Coleen Jones NWDLC round (Small)

Coleen Jones, President, NWDLC

Char to speak with Coleen and see if she'd be willing to do a video interview...

The ultimate goal of this initiative is to use a gender-aware lens to build better communities.

By activating and empowering more women and non-binary people who share our values of strong, inclusive, resilient, healthy communities, we ignite a clear path to successfully run for elected municipal office for future generations.

Preparing for a Better Future with Greater Diversity in Political Leadership kicks off this Spring 2021 with the following two opportunities. Questions? talktous@powherhouse.com


FireCircle Gathering May29 featuring inspiring and informative panels and interactive small-group sessions with local champions in politics (both past and present).

Preparatory Group Cohort June - August led by former two-term mayor, Christina Benty, a strategic advisor to numerous municipal leaders across Canada, and Indigenous founder, impact media visionary, and former two-term municipal councillor, Charlene SanJenko.

Cohort registration opens May 1st. Limited spots are available for this interactive 10-week cohort experience beginning June 16. Designed for those looking to become future political champions by those who have been there with input from those leading in politics at this time. Cohort cost $895. Support subsidies may be available. Group sessions run evenings on June 16, July 7, July 28, and August 18.

To learn more about this initiative and receive event details and program updates, please register here: