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This article was published 19/8/2019 (362 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A local business owner and human rights activist is hoping to be a voice for newcomers and the people of Waverley at the Manitoba Legislature this fall.
Fiona Haftani is running for MLA in the new constituency for the Manitoba Liberal Party. The 39-year-old said she has always been interested in politics and working for the public, but as a newcomer to the province wanted to ensure she knew the community before putting her name forward.
"My whole life I was involved with human rights, when I was in Iran I was working with the United Nations and NGOs and UNICEF," said the Iranian-Canadian, who has lived in Winnipeg since 2012 and calls Southdale home. "We were challenging and lobbying the government, so directly and indirectly I was involved with politics, too."
Haftani immigrated to Canada from Iran, by way of Malaysia, in 2006 and lived in Alberta for six years before heading east to Manitoba.
"I made my mind to run in Waverley because of the variety and the different type of people, and ethnic groups, and multiculturalism in Waverley," Haftani said. "It encouraged me and pushed me to run in Waverley because I thought there were a lot of people in that area who have immigrated from different countries.
"Lots of us are struggling with English, as it’s not our first language, but at the end we have the same language and that’s the immigration language. I can make a connection with these people."
As part of the 2018 Electoral Divisions Boundaries Commission, the St. Norbert constituency was eliminated and voters were redistributed into the new Seine River, Fort Richmond, and Waverley electoral divisions. The Waverley electoral division includes the communities of Bridgwater Forest and Bridgwater Lakes — formerly part of Fort Whyte — Bridgwater Trails, South Pointe, Prairie Pointe, and Waverley Heights.
Haftani is the owner of 7eMedia Inc., a digital marketing and branding firm she established three years ago. She holds three degrees: one in information technology that she earned while living in Malaysia, in new media, from the University of Lethbridge, and in political science from the University of Manitoba.
Haftani said her political involvement began in 2013, after moving to Manitoba, where she was connected with the provincial and federal Liberal parties, and has previous experience working with non-governmental organizations and the United Nations Development Programme.
She has also volunteered her time with UNICEF Canada, serving on a committee of 50 women across Canada who fundraise money to support programs for infants in developing nations, and currently sits on the board of directors for Manitobans for Human Rights.
Haftani said the most pressing issues for voters in Waverley are health care, specifically the conversion of the Victoria General Hospital emergency room to urgent care, and education and school facilities in the neighbourhood.
"I want to stand up for the emergency room and emergency care, and try to reverse the budget for health care, that’s very important," she said.
Also running for MLA in Waverley are Jon Reyes for the Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba and Dashi Zargani for the Manitoba NDP. The provincial election is Sept. 10.
Danielle Da Silva
Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.
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