Jenica Atwin MP (née Powell; born January 10, 1987) is a Canadian politician and former member of the Green Party of Canada who made history as the first Green MP elected outside of British Columbia. She later crossed the floor to join the Liberal Party of Canada. Atwin represented the riding of Fredericton in the House of Commons of Canada after winning the seat in the 2019 Canadian federal election and was re-elected as a Liberal in the 2021 federal election.
Early Life and Education:
Jenica Atwin, born Jenica Powell, spent her formative years in Oromocto, New Brunswick. Her father, Bob Powell, serves as the mayor of Oromocto, while her stepfather is Ron Tremblay, the Wolastoq Grand Chief. In high school, she exhibited leadership qualities as the class president. Atwin pursued higher education at the University of New Brunswick, where she completed a Master’s in Education. She actively engaged in the empowerment of First Nations youth and worked as an education consultant and researcher at a First Nations Education Centre.
In the 2019 Canadian federal election, Atwin made history by becoming the first Green Party MP elected outside of British Columbia. She triumphed over incumbent MP Matt DeCourcey to represent the riding of Fredericton in the House of Commons. Her victory also marked the first time a third-party candidate won in Fredericton, a constituency traditionally represented by Conservative and Liberal MPs. Additionally, she became the first woman elected in the riding. Atwin’s election, alongside fellow Green MPs Paul Manly and party leader Elizabeth May, contributed to the largest Green caucus in history, consisting of three members.
During her tenure, Atwin championed causes close to her heart. In April 2021, she introduced her first private members’ bill, Bill C-285, which sought a nationwide ban on the use of glyphosate in forests and fields across Canada. Atwin argued that glyphosate posed risks to human health, as well as plant and wildlife diversity.
In May 2021, amid the 2021 Israel–Palestine crisis, Atwin criticized Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip and referred to Israel’s control of the area as apartheid. She expressed dissatisfaction with Green Party leader Annamie Paul’s statement on the conflict, deeming it “totally inadequate.” In response, Noah Zatzman, a senior advisor to Paul, posted a controversial statement on Facebook, branding Atwin and fellow Green MP Paul Manly’s remarks as “appalling” and antisemitic, and vowing to work against their re-election. The subsequent fallout led Atwin to cross the floor and join the Liberal Party on June 10, 2021. Atwin cited a lack of support from Paul’s leadership after Zatzman’s threat as a contributing factor. Although Paul disputed this account and distanced herself from the events, Manly and May released a statement acknowledging that the attack against Atwin by Paul’s spokesperson had created the conditions leading to her departure. Shortly after joining the Liberal caucus, Atwin apologized for her previous remarks, expressing regret for her choice of words and emphasizing the suffering experienced by both Palestinians and Israelis.
Outside of politics, Atwin has demonstrated her skills in the realm of poker, achieving sixth place in a 2010 World Series of Poker Circuit ladies tournament in Louisiana. She is married to Chris Atwin, a band councillor from Oromocto First Nation, and together they have two sons.
Jenica Atwin was recognized as the “Rising Star” among Maclean’s 12th annual Parliamentarians of the Year.
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