The Legislative Assembly of Ontario has the year of Ontario’s founding, 1867, above the speaker’s chair. But in 1867, Black women like Laura Mae Lindo would not have had the chance to be where she is today.
Lindo is resigning her position as the member of provincial parliament (MPP) for Kitchener Centre for the sake of herself and her family. On Jan. 18, 2023, Lindo posted an open letter on Twitter announcing that she will be stepping down and taking on a role at the University of Waterloo.
After losing her father and another family member, Lindo also had to consider the process of having overnight childcare for her children while she was in Toronto.
Lindo was the chair of the Ontario NDP Black Caucus. She was the representative for the official opposition of the Ontario NDP. Her leadership is grounded in putting anti-oppression theories into practice.
In Dec. 2021, Lindo introduced Bill 67, The Racial Equity in Education Systems Act, ensures anti-racist language be used in pieces of legislation from kindergarten to grade 12, and throughout post-secondary.
“I didn’t feel comfortable doing half of the job simply to hold the seat. That didn’t seem fair to the people of Kitchener Center. I was honouring how I was raised, to use all of your energy to bring more good into the universe if I was only doing half of the role,” Lindo said.
Since she assumed office in 2018, Lindo has been the Official Opposition Critic for Anti-Racism and Equity. She was Kitchener’s first Black MPP, and currently serves as a Member of the Standing Committee on Regulations and Private Bills. However, being a single parent who does not live in the GTA has taken a toll.
Lindo acknowledged she had a lot of support from her team.
“I would be remiss if I didn’t also acknowledge that none of the stuff I was doing at Queen’s Park could happen without this team that I had. [The team] was holding it down in the riding when I was at Queen’s Park,” Lindo said.
Lindo said the Legislative Assembly Act lays out a housing allowance for MPPs, however childcare support is not included as a taxable benefit. This makes assuming office extremely difficult for single parents like Lindo.
“I have always enjoyed finding ways to incorporate references to things that resonate with the Black communities. I remember I had done a debate and I was talking to the government about how we accept that older systems are hard to change,” Lindo said.
Lindo has been an advocate for the rights of marginalized communities for a long time. Before she was elected to office, Lindo worked as the Director of Diversity and Equity at Wilfrid Laurier University.
As she addressed the assembly one day, Lindo realized she was being transcribed verbatim, even as she sang to the house. She realized her singing would not be evident in the transcript.
“So, I was like, write this, ‘she said it in a sing-song voice’ so that was my way of establishing myself and my way of debating and inserting myself into the conversation,” Lindo said.
Throughout her career, Lindo has wanted to be a part of the foundation of great change. She wants to recognize that for a lot of Black people, even today in 2023 are fighting for freedom. Not just from the institution of slavery but the consequences of what that intuition did to people who look like her.
“And so, to wrap it all up with a song from my ancestors in the chamber and to bring that energy in, it felt like one of the rare moments of being grounded in one of the most colonial spaces I’ve ever been in,” Lindo said.
Within the pomp and circumstance that surrounds being an MPP, the exclusivity around it all was always prevalent to Lindo. Her being able to bring in her ancestors into such a space was her favourite way to ground herself and remind her of her roots.
This article was edited on Mar. 7, 2023