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Take a lesson from Mayor Alice and be unapologetic

Marisca takes a life lesson from the longest-serving mayor in B.C. history

Last week I sat down to chat with Alice Maitland, the province’s longest-serving mayor and the country’s longest-serving female mayor.

She is an incredible woman. She turns 90 in June, but she is still so smart and her memory is incredibly sharp. I had a wonderful time sitting down and talking with her. She is so inspirational.

Maitland helped to incorporate the village of Hazelton before getting on council, served more than 40 years as mayor, and fought for many grants, millions of dollars worth, for the tiny town of around 300.

In 2020, Alice was awarded the Ann MacLean Award for Outstanding Service by a Woman in Municipal Politics because she served as a champion of women in politics and has had a significant influence on women in the north participating in local government.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities gave her the award and said at the time the women Maitland mentored say she blazed the path for other women looking to get into politics and personally helped them to be bolder, stronger, more confident and to raise issues of social equity in their political careers.

On a personal level, they appreciate her honesty, candor, and absolute dedication to municipal politics.

Maitland told me she gives the credit to the women before her that opened the door for strong, female politicians. Polly Sargent was the first mayor of the village and was a mentor to her.

Around the same time, Carrie Jane Gray was elected the first female mayor of Prince George.

Maitland said she was a powerhouse. Gray was mayor in 1958 and 1959 and was the second female in B.C. to be elected mayor.

I asked her if she had any advice for other women getting into politics.

She said to be unapologetic.

I think this is great advice for all women. I often hear women say, “This might be a stupid question but…” and it is followed up by a great question. Or, “I could be wrong….” with an incredibly smart statement afterward.

I’m guilty of this too. Woman are socially conditioned to be quiet and make other people happy or to think men have more power.

But we’ve earned a spot at the table. We are smart; we deserve to have our questions answered and our thoughts counted.

I don’t think there are dumb questions. If you are wondering, other people likely are.

And even if not, you deserve an answer or clarity.

We can all take a lesson from Alice, and be unapologetic. Whether it is in the board room, around the council table or in day-to-day life.

Let’s stop apologizing for things that don’t require it.

READ MORE: B.C.’s longest-serving mayor reflects on 42 years in office


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Marisca Bakker

About the Author: Marisca Bakker

Marisca was born and raised in Ontario and moved to Smithers almost ten years ago on a one-year contract.
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