If one were to say that Bonnie Jean-Louis has a great interest in politics, one would be right while also missing the point.
Jean-Louis is a veteran candidate, true, but over her many campaigns, her objectives and ideals have remained true: offering a fulfilling and healthy quality of life for everyone in the community, no matter their age or social standing.
For her, politics was never the beginning; it is simply a means to accomplish her objectives. In other words, politics came later.
“For me, politics is like saying ‘thank you’ to all the people who have supported programs that existed for those of my generation, like Katimavik and Canada World Youth. Katimavik was a social exchange program across the country. It was about cultural exchange, learning a second language and being involved in various communities. You got to learn a lot about civic engagement,” explained Jean-Louis.
Throughout these experiences at home and abroad, Jean-Louis got her first taste of community involvement and teaching in an international context.
“When I came back home, I studied international development at Collège d’Alfred. Later, in 2007, I decided to start a family here, at home, in Hawkesbury. That’s when I decided to take all my knowledge of international development and apply it here, in my community.”
In 2006, Jean-Louis entered her first political race at the federal level for the Green Party.
“It was quite the challenge and a reality check. You quickly realize that politics has an impact in the community. I was solicited a lot and had a full-time job on top of it all.”
Since then, Jean-Louis has been spending most of her time working in community development.
“I promised myself that if I ran again, I would be taking breaks from work to concentrate on campaigning. Community development work is often contract-based. If I’m campaigning and am in between contracts, I see it as another job search. It’s just much harder to apply for this type of job – it’s not up to one person to make the choice!”
Jean-Louis is no stranger to the ins and outs of Hawkesbury’s town hall, having spent some time working there in addition to her community work through different boards.
“I have an interesting and useful background. I spent time working at the town hall, so I know what the current projects are, where we are going and I want to make sure that projects move forward on the right track. My job there was to listen to my community, to their ideas; their projects and concerns and find solutions. I was also responsible for securing funding through grants and subsidies. In one year, I managed to get $150,000 in grants for Hawkesbury.”
Like any candidate driven by ideals, Jean-Louis has a list of ideals; of accomplishments she would like to reach as a member of council.
“First off, I’d like to keep working on existing projects that are already on the right track. A lot of work has already done on some projects, like roads, by professionals on the outside and priorities have been established. With a new council, some things may be put aside and started anew. I’m not big on starting over when things are on the right track. I’d also love to see our parcs become more inter-generational. I want to see more mature trees for appeal and shade. Our parcs need to be appealing for the elderly, families with young children and everyone between.”
There are two other big, tangible projects in Jean-Louis’s sights, projects directly tied to her goal of creating a healthy quality of life for the town’s residents.
“The first one is the water treatment plant at the west end of town – for drinking water. It needs an upgrade, and one that will ensure elimination of all nano particles in our water. Our water needs to be perfect today and 20, 30 years from now. The second one is our public swimming pool. It needs to be modernized and we need to avoid problems like the one we encountered with the skating rink. It’s a lot of money, but our sports complex is 40 years old. It plays an important part in our quality of life and needs to last another 40 years.”
The 2018 municipal election candidates list is indeed an interesting one. Even Jean-Louis agrees that this year’s list is comprised of people with a lot to offer.
“It’s so interesting! We can choose between candidates that bring a wide variety of experience to the table. It can’t be all about economic development, we need a variety of strengths. I hope that the more cynical, those that don’t usually vote, realize that with these candidates, they actually have a chance to make a difference.”