Blake Desjarlais is a Canadian politician who has represented Edmonton Griesbach in the House of Commons since 2021. He is a member of the New Democratic Party (NDP) and is of Cree and Métis descent, making him Alberta’s only Indigenous member of Parliament (MP) and the first openly two-spirit individual to serve as an MP. Desjarlais was born on December 29, 1993, in Edmonton and grew up in the Fishing Lake Métis Settlement in northern Alberta. He was raised by his aunt Grace Desjarlais after his biological mother Brenda, who was a victim of the Sixties Scoop, sought help from her sister.
Desjarlais attended secondary school in Elk Point, Alberta, and studied political science and indigenous studies at MacEwan University before transferring to the University of Victoria due to racially motivated death threats. As a university student, he was involved in student politics and served as firekeeper of the Native Student Union (NSU). After completing his studies, Desjarlais was appointed the national director of the Metis Settlements General Council in 2016.
Desjarlais had previously considered running for an elected Indigenous leadership role but was skeptical of partisan politics. He was impressed with the NDP’s recognition of him as a whole person with expertise in a variety of sectors and decided to run for office during the 2021 federal election. He received support from several members of the Legislative Assembly, including Janis Irwin, Chris Nielsen, former premier Rachel Notley, and former education minister David Eggen. During the campaign, he faced racist interactions from some voters.
Desjarlais defeated Kerry Diotte, a two-term Conservative MP, on election day, marking a significant victory for the NDP in what was previously considered a Conservative stronghold. Desjarlais was selected to be the NDP’s deputy caucus chair for the 44th Parliament after being elected.
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