June 8, 2019 - 7:00pm
As a young female politician, Ebony Logins is very conscious of the fact that women are not well-represented in the political sphere. To encourage more young women to enter politics, Logins, who on top of her duties as a Councillor with the District of Sooke Council is also a photographer and community school co-ordinator, is launching a women in politics photo project. The VIU Recreation & Tourism Management alum, who graduated in 2009, was happy to share more about this project, what being a politician is like and how VIU helped set her up for success in her multiple careers.
Why did you choose VIU?
I was living in Sooke and wanted to move away from home to study management, but I didn’t want to move too far from friends and family. The tourism program at VIU sounded like a great mix of fun and education and living in Nanaimo seemed like it would be that little bit of adventure I needed.
What are your favourite memories from VIU?
I fondly remember finding a stair-less path from Buildings 180 to 380, but mostly I remember the people. I got to spend every day with my best friends. In class, at the campus pub, having picnics in the library (we were rebels), playing LAN Command and Conquer in dorms, staying up all night studying (and partying), and cheering on classmates at basketball games. We supported each other through school and continue to support each other through life to this day.
What was your path from graduating from VIU to now?
After graduation, I worked at Harbour Air (where I completed my co-op work term) in Nanaimo and then in Vancouver. I moved to Vancouver, Vernon, Kelowna and then back to Sooke in 2011, where I landed a contract as a Youth Engagement Coordinator with School District #62 (Sooke). In 2013, when my boss moved to Africa with Doctors Without Borders, I was fortunate to be offered her position as Community School Coordinator/Executive Director of the EMCS Society for the school district.
How did you get into politics?
When I was elected in 2014, there was a bit of a youth engagement movement. Since I had been the face of youth engagement for many years, a big group of people identified me as someone they wanted to see on council. They took me out for tea and told me they would mentor me, support me and rally for me. How could I say no to that?
How has your tourism and recreation education translated into the political realm?
The coursework at VIU is top notch. I remember teachers telling me that the research projects we did were masters-level. To be honest, I didn’t believe them until I started receiving reports and presentations from master’s students from other schools. It really hit home how much we learned in our coursework. In our bachelor’s program, I got to present a Sport Tourism Strategy to the City of Nanaimo and an urban geography development plan to the Tseshaht First Nation. I also did a study tour in Belize, where we researched and presented sustainable tourism practices to politicians of Orange Walk. We presented those findings at the World Leisure Congress in Quebec City. Gaining an understanding that people all over the world face similar challenges really brings it home that we can work together to find solutions. So often, the work municipalities do can be insular, but there are so many ways in which we can work better together.
Tell us about your women in politics photo project and why you started it.
Last year, I attended the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference in Halifax. There, I learned that women make up about 18 percent of municipal politicians in Canada. With more than 3,000 delegates from every province in Canada, the lack of diversity really weighed heavily in the air. On the plane ride home, I sat next to a man who asked why I was in Halifax, and when I responded that I was at the FCM conference, he said, “Wow! So, you’re a politician’s assistant?” In that moment I knew I had to do something from my place of privilege. As a photographer and a politician, I have unique access to women in this country who have inspirational stories yet to be told. I am connecting with them and photographing them in 2019 and hope to release the book in 2020.
What are some of the challenges women entering politics face from your perspective?
There are many challenges, so I’d like to share a story I experienced with my council last term. While women in municipal politics already have low representation, female mayors represent a much smaller number. Women who have babies while sitting as mayor are even fewer. The Mayor of Sooke, Maja Tait, is one of my biggest inspirations. When she became pregnant in 2015, we realized there are no parental leaves available to us in our own policies or by way of legislation. We are only allowed to miss a few consecutive regular meetings, or else we can lose our seat on council. This means that, while Mayor Tait asked for four months’ leave, council could have voted against her motion, effectively making her choose between her newborn son and being the mayor. When she returned from leave, the acting mayor refused to give back her seat at the Regional District table. This issue of leave and return to equal work ended up being a resolution (thanks to advocacy from former Oak Bay councillor Michelle Kirby) that passed at the Association of Vancouver Island Coastal Communities’ AGM and then again at the Union of British Columbia Municipalities conference in 2016. The government has not provided any legislation on it to date, but it certainly helped bring to light the issues that we face in municipal politics.
Do you have any advice for women going into politics?
If you’re considered running for council, meet with some women on a nearby council and interview them about the role. Keep an open mind. There are so many easy reasons to list why not to be involved in this thankless and emotionally draining role that you could do when you’re retired, but the reality is, the world needs you NOW. No matter what your barriers are, I guarantee there is a group of people ready to support you through the challenges.
What was it like growing up on a renovated school bus?
In one word, it was magical. We lived in a bus in the middle of a 90-acre forest for a few years while my family built their first home. We had two 30-foot greenhouses and two acres of veggie and fruit gardens. We spent most of our days outside. It certainly shaped who I am today. I value simplicity, nature, outdoor and physical literacy, and I actually live in a tiny home now!
What’s next for you?
Aside from the portraits of women in politics book, I am also traveling the world with my photography business. I just got back from teaching women about emotive couples portraiture in California, and I’m traveling to Quadra Island, Quebec City, Colorado, Iceland, Salt Spring Island, Pender Island, Vancouver and Mexico for various projects in the upcoming year. I am also obtaining a post-degree diploma in Business Administration – Human Resource Management & Leadership and a Chartered Professional in Human Resources designation. I like to keep myself busy!