City Councillor Devi Sharma makes her mark
By Amanda Thomas
Since being elected to Winnipeg City Council four years ago, Devi Sharma has been influential in creating a ward where Old Kildonan residents and their families can flourish. Councillor Sharma was the first ever Indo-Canadian elected into Winnipeg’s municipal government – not to mention the first ever female Speaker of the House. With a bevy of firsts under her belt the future has no bounds for Sharma.
Where did you grow up and when did you immigrate to Canada?
I immigrated to Canada from India when I was two years old, so Winnipeg really is my home. We lived in North Winnipeg and later in the Maples. Today, I still live close by in Garden City. These communities in Old Kildonan mean so much to me and my family, and that is why I am committed to the work that I am privileged to do on City Council.
What made you strive to be in politics in Winnipeg?
After I graduated, I worked for the Provincial Government, in the private sector, for a non-profit and I started my own business. As I matured and gained an understanding of my own strengths and interests, I became motivated by helping people. When the opportunity to run came, I felt it was a natural progression to the path my career had taken.
Throughout your time as the Old Kildonan ward Councillor what has been your most satisfying accomplishment?
I am very proud of the work I’ve accomplished for Old Kildonan. When I talk to people, they tell me the things that matter most to them is having safe, vibrant communities in which to live and raise their families. I think I have led initiatives over the past four years that help to accomplish this goal. Whether it’s leading community forums with the Chief of Police about safety in our neighbourhoods or bringing ideas for recreation to life – like Winnipeg’s first indoor spray pad, which is in planning stages right now at Seven Oaks Pool, there’s still much more to do! And I am asking citizens in Old Kildonan to give me the chance to continue to build on these successes going forward.
Can you reflect on what it was like to be the first female Speaker?
It is an honour to serve as Speaker of City Council. While I believe that I was elected as Speaker based on my abilities and strengths, not because I am a woman, I am proud if that means I can be a positive role model for young women. I think that having strong positive role models is a powerful motivator for women. By virtue of seeing women in politics, more women will be motivated to choose this path.
What sets Winnipeg apart from other cities that you’ve experienced?
Winnipeg is my home. I like the sense of community and familiarity that I find here. While there are obviously many wonderful places in the world, I am always struck by how big and vast other places feel, and I never find that when I am home. Again, it is part of the reason I believe in working for the betterment of this city. It is my home, and I am extremely committed to it.
It’s Sunday afternoon, you have a few hours to yourself, what would you be doing in the city?
Hands down it would be baking chocolate chip cookies for my nine year old’s school lunch. I find baking relaxing and it gives me an opportunity to unwind. And, if I’m being honest, the cookies might be for my own sweet tooth as well.