Adrienne Roberts is a secondary school teacher with the Grand Erie District School Board who works to help students achieve their goals and acquire real-world experiences in the community. A passionate advocate for public education, she believes that education is a pathway to growth, innovation, and justice. Active in labour rights, she is the vice-president of her bargaining unit, serves on several committees for the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF), and is an executive member for the Brantford & District Labour Council. She is proud to be a third-generation union member within her family.
A champion for change, Rogers says she knows what a difference it makes when government invests in the needs of families. Two Row Times caught up with Rogers last week to talk about her platform and her background.
TRT – Where did you grow up and where do you live now?
Rogers – I grew up in Ancaster. I lived in St. John’s, N.L., for a few years for school, and I currently live in Brantford.
TRT – What unique skills do you have for the job?
Rogers – Being a teacher, having the ability to listen to a variety of opinions is helpful because not everyone agrees on topics and issues. Being able to facilitate discussions and create a space to talk about new ideas is important as we work towards a consensus. We do that a lot in our classroom. And that’s a skill often overlooked in the political arena. We don’t just educate, we also facilitate. We have a lot of people in our classroom with different ideas and concerns who come from many different backgrounds too. It takes energy to hear and listen to everybody but it works when it’s done.
TRT – What and where do you teach?
Rogers – Right now I am on unpaid leave during this election. I am scheduled to be working at Hagersville Secondary School after the election and I taught at Tollgate Technological Skills Centre for two years prior. I work in special education primarily.
TRT – How would you describe the NDP platform in a few sentences?
Rogers – The NDP is fighting for people. That’s the best way to describe it. The NDP is fighting for people in our communities. Our country. Everywhere.
TRT – How is social media helping or hindering your run?
Rogers – I’ve been on social media personally for a while now. For the election, I’m on a few different platforms. Instagram. Twitter a little bit. Facebook. I’ve tried TikTok but that’s a skill I’m still mastering. But I am on social media for sure. I’m enjoying Instagram in particular. I have some old students of mine who have reached out and connected with me through there which has been great.
TRT – Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Rogers – I could be running again, depending on what happens next week. My husband and I will still be here. I do a lot of community outreach here. Always there to help out at an event when help is needed and things like that.
TRT – What is your comfort level dealing with tough issues?
Rogers – I don’t mind getting dirty. I always say that real change comes when it gets messy. And sometimes you just have to get messy when we’re talking about some of these issues with centuries worth of undoing and resolving. It can be emotional, traumatic, messy. Real work takes place in those spaces and you have to be willing to get messy.
I read a quote that says it’s only when you are still in discomfort that you are learning. If you’re not feeling any discomfort then you’re not learning. That is where true change and learning happens.
TRT – When did you become interested in politics?
Rogers – I’ve always been interested in sort of a peripheral way. I’ve followed politics and different platforms since my 20s. I’m 46 now. Growing up we always had big discussions about politics at home and being a third-generation union member also, those types of conversations come up. I became a party member of NDP in 2017.
TRT – How do you work as part of a team?
Rogers – We are very collaborative, my team and I. I generally use the word ‘we’ when talking about election work. We have a core team that has been working together for a few years now. In between elections we still work together and do work in the community. We do food drives, wellness checks, community clean-up events. Some of our core executive team is always working together in some way. That’s why it’s ‘we’. We are a very diverse group too. We have youth, older people too. Different experiences help our team be more well-rounded and we get in there and work hard together.
TRT – Why is running in this election the right thing for you to do right now?
Rogers – I ran in the Haldimand-Norfolk election in 2019 last minute. But this is home so this time around is a very different experience. And a lot of my inspiration to run in this election comes from my students. They inspire me every day. They are angry. Frustrated. They feel hopeless about their future at times. And hearing that compels me to run because they need a voice. I am so overwhelmed with the support from youth that we’ve interacted with during this campaign.
Listening to students and their concerns is important. They are living through a climate crisis, an opioid crisis, a housing crisis, and also a pandemic. They need to be heard and listening to their sense of anxiety and hopelessness for the future made me angry too. That’s why I’m running. I want to show it can be done and we can make a change for their future.
TRT – What are some of your areas of focus?
Rogers – There are a couple of things right off the bat I would address. The opioid crisis for sure. Too many people have died and we need to start dealing with this crisis as soon as possible. More than 20,000 people have died in this country from overdose and that’s not even talking about the impact those deaths have had on families. We have a problem here in Brantford and we need more support. We need plans for harm reduction. We need to deal with this trauma.
Also, the NDP is committed to working through reconciliation in good faith. And one of the things we want to start with is making sure everyone has water. It costs people a lot of money to connect their main water line on Six Nations. We need to invest and make sure water can be delivered to homes and make it easier for people to have access to clean water. Clean water and housing are basic things in life and should be a priority. Another thing we would do on Six Nations as soon as we can is to put in a funding request for a building for Kawenni:io/Gaweni:yo school. I had the privilege of meeting with the board at the school and they need a building.
TRT – Why is it important for young people to care about politics?
Rogers – Young people care because it’s their future at stake. It isn’t about me. I’ve had my 46 years here on earth, and yes I’m hoping for another 40 at least but it’s the young people’s future. Youth have anxiety about a lot of the issues we talked about and we want to make sure there is still a planet that will be there to nurture and support them. Youth are passionate and care but often they feel unheard or disregarded which makes things worse when they are constantly told their opinions and concerns don’t matter. They become apathetic.
Rogers’ contact information can be found at facebook.com/AdrienneForBrant/