CONTRIBUTION · 27th October 2014
1) Who are you?
I am Edwin Empinado, a Filipino-Canadian Registered Nurse, providing a safe, quality service, using up to date and innovative technology and practice in the operating room at Kitimat General Hospital. My first knowledge and contact of Kitimat was when the hospital offered my wife, Doris and I a job in the operating in 2001 while we were in Dublin Ireland. Due to immediate need of the employer and the lengthy nursing registration process, these did not work out. In 2004, we came as Temporary Foreign Workers working at St. Paulís Hospital operating room in Vancouver. December of the same year, we were in Kitimat with our daughter, Diana.
I became the BC Nurses Union Steward at KGH for 5 years, advocating for the rights of patients and my colleagues. Then I got elected to be one of the BC Nurses Union Northwest Executives as contract steward coordinator and union member educator.
I got elected to council in 2011 serving as councilís representative to the Advisory Commission of Persons with Disability promoting accessible walkways, standardize numbers and size of parking stalls for persons with disability; as councilís representative to the Housing Committee, where we change the terms of reference of the committee from monitoring and reporting to council to a more active role in responding to the housing needs of the special populations, new identified housing gaps as result of increased industrial activity; councilís representative to the Library Board, making sure that library services are up to date and standard, and bringing the boardís concerns tto council; alternate councilís representative to the Leisure Services and theater board; and councilís representative to the Municipal Insurance Association.
2) What do you bring to the council table?
I will bring to the table balanced, well-informed, evidence based, proactive, respectful, culturally and environmentally sensitive, facilitative and consultative decision making; equipped with an optimistic attitude that we can move forward as we encounter challenges along our way.
3) What is your experience with local politics?
Three busy and committed years had taught me a lot of things, had widened my horizon, had made me well versed on various issues from simple to sensitive ones, had given me the opportunity to develop a good relationship with provincial ministers, whom we put forward our concerns and needs; had developed a networking with other political leaders in the region and local first nation governance; had shown me how we can move forward despite our differences; had shown me the gaps in the community through statistical data, grassroots information, anecdotal stories which needed to be addressed, and how we can move forward that benefits us all. I had the opportunity to assume the role of deputy mayor of Kitimat in 2013 at UBCM, speaking in front of the Premier and five top ministers of the province bringing the message across that the District of Kitimat should be on the table, be informed and consulted as the province discuss plans and bring projects into our area for reasons that we are the ones impacted, and grassroots information is vital to the overall materialization of provincial projects. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities convention has given me the opportunity to network and lobby Federal Government to resolve the affordable housing crunch, maintain door to door mail delivery rather than putting up community mailboxes, and to improve strict policy on the transport of dangerous goods through the railway system.
4) What personal attribute best qualifies you for office and how will you apply it to you role in office?
These are the few of the many attributes I would bring, competent, enthusiastic in finding solutions, good listener, an optimist, with proactive attitude, excellent in public relations, committed, service oriented, and leading by example with humility.
5) How will you improve with Kitimatís neighbor?
It is important to continue networking and working with other northwest neighboring local governance and non-profit organizations for reasons that there are services that we have challenges offering and which they can provide; affordable rent and housing, transition place for men, shelters, and etc.
Improving relationship with First Nation now, is not just by understanding the culture and talking to them. It is also done by recognizing, accepting, and reconciling what happened in the past. And the new way of moving forward is through accommodation and consultation. This is the new Federal and Provincial approach to First Nation. It is time for local government to follow. Justice Murray Sinclair at the reconciliation workshop at the recent UBCM, in Whistler, told us that if recognizing and accepting what happened to First Nation hurts, how much more reconciling. In the practice of my profession, experiencing hurt is also beneficial to achieve a better result. I relate these to a procedure in the operating room, that in order to regain health, we need to undergo the hurt of the knife.
6) If you could bring one commercial business to Kitimat, which business would you bring and why?
I do not have something specific. But the basic principle in bringing in commercial businesses is to add to the tax base source of the district, which will improve the delivery of community services; creates jobs; create a healthy competitive environment that benefits our community by receiving quality service and fair price control.
7) If you could do any one thing in your role on council to make Kitimat prosperous, what would that be?
It would be to create a facilitative policy as we welcome tax base source entity while continuing to uphold the consultative policy through public input, without forgetting the importance of having a good relationship with stakeholders, as we become responsive to the fast changing world around us, bearing in mind Kitmatís unique identity.
8) If you could do one thing in your role on council to make Kitimat a better place, what would that be?
To be mindful as I decide on policy that affects the following; our surroundings that we value, the medium of a healthy lifestyle; the river, which is the source of food, water, and diversional activities; the channel, our shared source of food, recreational activities, and industrial activity; the green spaces and network of walkways that connect our neighborhoods and city center; our cultural diversity that makes us a welcoming, friendly, and peaceful community; the clean air that gives us strength in pursuing a healthy lifestyle.
9) How would you define leadership style and how does that style contribute to a more effective council?
I believe in the democratic way of leading that produce high productivity, better contributions from group members, and create increased group morale. There are seven heads in the council chamber, whose way of thinking is dependent on their personal background, experience, and advocacy. I would like to see more of a dialogue rather than a debate to decide on things, where no one lose but win-win.
10) If there is one thing you could do to make kitimat more environmentally friendly what would it be and why?
Educate ourselves that the things we need to dispose have its proper place, support the programs and concerns of our recycling depot, and lobby MMBC through the provincial government to perform its mandate on the end of life of product packaging and printed paper; and other EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) programs, that assumes responsibility for end of life management of items such as beverage containers, electronics, paint, used oil, tires and batteries.
11) In words or less: What is the meaning of life?
Life is worth living when it is spent serving others!