Original Published on Aug 17, 2022 at 10:46
By Emily Plihal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
A fresh face was elected to represent Municipal District of Smoky River constituents in Division 1 last year, and her vibrant, vivacious, independent mindset is a welcome addition to their council and to the community.
Paula Guindon was elected on October 18, 2021 and is the first female councillor representing the municipality since incorporation January 1, 1952. Very few women have run to sit on the MD of Smoky River council up to this point, with only approximately a half dozen running since incorporation. Notably, for the first time in the municipality’s history, two women ran in the 2021 election.
Guindon says she had a keen interest in learning about municipal politics and explains she started thinking about running about five years ago.
“I was frustrated, I didn’t know how things worked and wasn’t getting the answers I wanted,” she says. “After some serious thought and a ton of encouragement, I decided if I want to be a part of the solution I would need to step up and get a seat at the table.”
A lot of focus has been put on the fact that she is the first woman elected to council. She says that she appreciates the recognition, but that her focus isn’t about her gender but about learning more about the nuances of how council works, what they do and how long it takes to get things accomplished.
“The honour of being the first woman elected in our MD is not lost on me and I am truly honoured,” she says. “Yet being a woman is only one part of who I am. I’m also a business owner, farmer, parent, and so much more. All of these add to who I am and the perspective and voice I bring to council.”
Reeve Robert Brochu boasts Guindon, saying that her business experience is an asset to the council and to the region.
“Councillor Guindon brings her own unique set of skillsets to council,” says Brochu. “Her background as a farmer and a businessperson in the area gives her a great range of perspectives and knowledge on a variety of subjects. She has fit in extremely well with Council and staff alike.”
Guindon is a multi-faceted person. She owns and operates All Source Electronics and North 49 Graphics in Falher.
She also owns and operates a grain farm with her husband south of Guy.
In her first term as elected official, she hopes to see the completion of the water co-op project. She says so far there have been several experiences and notable events that she’s enjoyed taking part in.
“Everything is still so new and interesting,” she says. “I really appreciated the tour we took to see a number of the projects and points of interest within our MD. I’m a visual person, it clarified the size of these projects and where we were in their level of completion.”
Guindon came to the area in 1988 when her mom moved their family from Calgary so she could work in the region.
She graduated from high school at Georges P. Vanier in Donnelly and has been very involved in the community ever since.
“We have it all: the river, rolling hills, fields full of the crops ready to harvest, wildlife scattered all around,” she says of the MD of Smoky River. “We have sunsets and northern lights as far as the eye can see. We truly live in one of the most beautiful areas. Some people were born here, I was not. I chose to stay.”
She and her husband Denis raised two sons, Ryan and Cory.
The family of four have been very involved in the community, sitting on many boards and participating in several extra curricular sports and activities. Guindon is known for being a force to reckon with on both the ice and roller skates, as she was a member of the Donnelly She Devils hockey team and Grimshaw’s Grim Reapers roller derby team.
When it comes to running for a political position, or simply going after something that you want, Guindon leaves us with some advice.
“Do it even if you’re scared, no one owes you this moment so go out there and take it,” she says, also noting that there are qualities that should be ensured. “Honesty and authenticity are visible in the actions we take, the words we speak and how we treat ourselves and others.”
This item reprinted with permission from South Peace News – southpeacenews.com, High Prairie, Alberta