“If I could talk to my childhood self,” Beisan Zubi, local NDP Candidate for Kitchener Centre paused to consider. “I guess I’d say—sorry things don’t turn out the way you expect, at all. They turn out better.”
Growing up in Ottawa’s downtown Sandy Hill neighbourhood, pre-teen Zubi aspired to be a vet, an actress or a doctor. She liked movies, animals and playing outside until the street lights came on. Sandy Hill back then was full of young families, not facing the housing crisis it sees today.
But a political teacher in grade 12 helped to set her down a different path and it led to Parliament Hill.
By the time she was 24, Zubi was working in statistics, actively pushing back against the social attitudes that young people had no place in politics.
“The culture in politics at that time wasn’t much different from undergrad,” Zubi said.
As much as she enjoyed being a part of something bigger than herself, she could not ignore that Parliament Hill had the same problems as the rest of society—sexual harassment, gender-based stigmas, ageist references and racism.
As the daughter of proud Palestinian parents—an activist and an artist—Zubi grew up with mixed feelings about her heritage. She learned to find pride in her identity through politics by listening to leaders like NDP Leader Jack Layton incite change in the political landscape.
“I think back to my seventeen-year-old self as I run this campaign,” Zubi said. “Maybe she would have signed up to volunteer with me.”
Zubi’s family was displaced through renoviction—a process where landlords evict tenants by claiming they will complete major renovations on the property. She sympathizes with the generations of Waterloo Region residents currently looking for housing elsewhere.
“There’s two levels of change in politics.” Zubi said. “People and systems. People need to wait for systems to change, but systems don’t need to wait for people to change in order to have positive impacts. I want to make systems change.”
Beisan Zubi is the NDP candidate for Kitchener Centre. Zubi’s story is interesting and inspiring to us, however, we do not support or oppose her political aspirations and campaign in any way.
Racheal Walser is a local literary short fiction author and poet working in feminist non-profit. She lives on a ranch for retired house hippos along with her great white carpet, er, dog, Anthem and her not so squish, Squish cat who meows maliciously at feeding time. Her work has appeared in publications by Mensa, Fast Forward Press, After the Pause, Canadian Stories and many more.