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Learning on the Campaign Trail: Shelley Fashan

By Richard Bell

In political campaigns, no one’s in a better position to learn more from the experience than the candidate. A week after the election, we called Shelley Fashan to get her reflections on her first campaign for office, and to talk about her future plans.

What was your over-all impression of the campaign?

 “Well, it was challenging, very exciting, but a bit scary too. You never knew what anyone was going to ask you, so every day was a new experience.

What did you like the most?

“I so enjoyed meeting so many great people everywhere along the shore. A lot of people don’t realize how cosmopolitan the Shore is! There are so many different people from so many different places doing so many different, great things.”

Were there any places or events that you especially enjoyed?

“I really enjoyed the markets in Seaforth and Musquodoboit. It was great just being around folks, seeing the creativity, eating amazing food, and drinking wonderful coffee. And I loved the 50 Mile Yard Sale. I met people along the way that I’ve been talking to regularly every since.”

Looking back, if you were advising someone who was thinking about running for the first time, what did you learn that you’d pass on?

“Have more money! And build a strong campaign team. I worked full-time through the campaign. If I were going to do it over again, I’d take time off to campaign dull time. It’s really a full-time job.

You spoke with us earlier this fall about being surprised at encountering more racism than you expected. Can you say a little more about what your experience was like?

“Well the most open moment was when I was on Sheldon MacLeod’s radio station, and he essentially called me a token or a figurehead, that because I was a black candidate, I would only care about the Prestons. I was shocked. When I told my friend El Jones about it, she immediately wrote an article about it. And to his credit, Sheldon called me the very next morning and apologized.”

“But more often, you’re in a situation where you feel like you’re just not being perceived, or that there’s something not normal about your being there. I got the impression from some people that because I was black, I would not ‘fit in,’ and that offended me. But we all know what a challenge just getting through the door can be.”   

Would you ever consider running for office again?

Yes.

So what’s next on your agenda!

I’m getting back to business. I’m joining the church choir, and I’m going to do another documentary, on women of color and feminism in Nova Scotia.

Will you be doing another edition of your “Emerging Lens Cultural Film Festival” in the spring?

Oh yes, this will be our seventh year, but we have not set the final dates in April. You know Lindell Smith (just elected Halifax City Councillor for District 8) was the technician in our first year! We’re looking for stories that speak to the community. We always have a youth night, usually a lot of music videos, telling stories from their perspectives. And we have established artists, like Floyd Kane. He’s from East Preston. His 2015 film  (Across the Line) about the racial brawl at Cole Harbour High School in 1989 has been in theatres across the country.” 

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