Changing LGBT+ History: Wickenhauser Seeks Election
Joe Wickenhauser is in the running for school board trustee in Moose Jaw, making him the first openly LGBT+ person in the area to seek public office.
Wickenhauser said that while he has considered running for a school board position for several years, he finally made his decision after educators, staff and politicians encouraged him to do so.
“I told someone I was thinking about running and she said, ‘Yes! Do it. We need people like you on the board.’ I was so surprised by the support and I started to believe that it was actually possible,” Wickenhauser said.
In his candidate profile statement, Wickenhauser said his priorities include building safer schools, listening to parents and families and “working together to find common solutions.”
Wickenhauser’s bid for the school board comes at a time when the provincial government has indicated there will be “transformational change” to the way school divisions are organized, including the possibility of amalgamation.
“I think it’s important to see this change as an opportunity for fresh ideas and to ensure that families, students and teachers can be part of the discussions around how education is changing in the division,” Wickenhauser said.
Earlier this year, B Garneau became the first openly transgender person to seek election in Saskatchewan in the provincial riding of Regina Wascana Plains. Wickenhauser said meeting Garneau was an inspiration and that he wants other LGBT+ people to realize their potential:
“I hope my campaign encourages LGBT+ people and other marginalized people to feel empowered to make a difference in their community.”
Wickenhauser began organizing Moose Jaw Pride Week in 2013 and since then has founded a non-profit organization, led the organization as board chair and helped secure funding to open a drop-in centre and create two paid positions. This past year, he received a Heritage Award from the City of Saskatoon for his work on LGBT+ history while Moose Jaw Pride was nominated as Group of the Year and received a Community Building Award from the Moose Jaw Police Service.
“My advocacy work has often been about changing LGBT+ history in the province from stories about fear and marginalization to stories of courage, pride and community,” Wickenhauser said.
Wickenhauser said that he hopes his campaign starts a conversation about the representation of diversity in government: “How can we build more inclusive communities, when no one from the LGBT+ community has ever had a seat at the table?”
School board elections occur on the same date and locations as municipal elections and will be held in Moose Jaw on October 26.
Click here to find more information about how and where to vote on October 26.
Photo credits: Amy Miller