Cory Robin remembers thinking that city hall was far removed from his day-to-day life growing up in South Porcupine, Ontario .
“I was maybe 13, riding my bike, and they were doing some construction on the road,” said Robin. “It was the first time I thought about how I’d like to have a say in how things run.”
He talked about running for council in passing for years until he finally made up his mind to do it in 2018.
“I told my wife that I’m going to run for office,” he says. “And she just said ‘OK’, I’d been saying it for so long,”
In the 2018 municipal election when he lost by two votes to Andrew Marks. It was so close that there was a recount of the ballots to confirm the results.
He calls it an educational experience, as he spent a lot of time with Marks during the recount process and learned a lot from him as they waited for the results.
“I stood next to Andrew Marks for hours, and you get to know each other in a situation like that,” says Robin. “I learned that he’s just a really good guy.”
He said the loss was heartbreaking, but it made him consider what other contributions he could make to the city.
“I want the city to be at its best, and I want to make sure we do everything we can to make it better,” he says. “It’s not always the people you think of that need help like safe consumption sites, or Living Space.”
When Noella Rinaldo stepped down as a councillor during the 2018-22 term, Robin was appointed to the role and took a seat at the council table. He ran again in the 2022 election and was elected as a Ward 5 councillor.
Robin says that once he found his place in business and politics, seeing how he could help the city he grew up in thrive got easier.
He credits his connection to his Indigenous roots with that clarity.
“I get better and better as I learn about myself, and the people around me, my friends and family, and as I learn from them,” he says.
He is a member of the Kashechewan First Nation, and he’s worked with Attawapiskat Enterprises, finding ways to create opportunities for those in his community.
He says that his 20s were a time when he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do, or what he could contribute.
He went back to school, studying business management and accounting at Northern College in his late 20s and says he found something in that education that gave him a glimpse of how he could help his community.
“I found out I did not like accounting,” he says. “But all the stuff around that, the marketing, the management, that stuff I loved, and I saw a way to help my community be better and I saw a path forward.”
He says that having diverse individuals with varied experiences around him keeps him from courting disaster.
“I like to think that there are people in my social circle that would give me a hand, a perspective, a word of encouragement or a word or caution as needed, so I don’t blindly march off a cliff thinking that I’m right,” says Robin.
That approach applies to his work with city council, as well.
“We can have arguments, it can get heated, but we’re all doing what we think is right for the city and for our constituents,” he says. “Sometimes a good argument helps you cement your own views too.”
By Amanda Rabski-McColl, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Mar 05, 2023