Vincent Rain is the Alberta Party candidate for Lesser Slave Lake in the provincial election, which takes place on April 16. He was nominated “about three weeks ago” he says, after having been asked by a party member to consider running. Lesser Slave Lake was available, and due to family connections (his uncle is from Grouard) he chose to run here.
It’s Rain’s first foray into provincial politics. A member of the Paul First Nation (near Wabamun Lake), he worked for many years as a safety inspector in the oil and gas industry. He’s also worked in the environmental monitoring field and it was experiences there that led him into an interest in political involvement.
“I was upset by treaty rights and artifact protocols not being followed,” Rain says. “So I said: ‘I can make angry Facebook posts, or I can try to become part of the system and change it from the inside.’”
Running for MLA in Lesser Slave Lake is how he’s trying to do that.
After meeting party leader Stephen Mandel, Rain says “it was a pretty easy choice.”
One thing he liked about the former Edmonton mayor was that after Rain explained his focus on indigenous issues, Mandel was all for it.
“He bought into my sentiments,” he says. “Indigenous issues are everybody’s issues.”
That might sound contradictory, but Rain simplifies it. Without proper protocols in place to address Indigenous concerns, development projects won’t get approved. Therefore they are important to everybody.
Rain says he cautioned Mandel that he might not always see eye-to-eye with the party and wouldn’t be a ‘yes’ man. And Mandel was okay with that.
Rain grew up and still lives in the Paul Band community west of Edmonton. He’s 46 years old, a husband, father and grandfather. Beside family and work, he’s involved in Indigenous culture – among other things as a dancer in the Men’s Traditional style. The image painted on his face in his campaign photo reflects the prayerful attitude with which the dancer approaches the performance.
“It’s in the Creator’s hands if I win or not,” he says.
In a sense, Rain thinks by getting involved and presenting himself as a candidate in traditional cultural style, he’s already won. He notes that the Liberal Party of Alberta has since announced it is reserving spots for Indigenous candidates.
Rain acknowledges there is tension between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.
“It’s also my focus to make things better for everybody,” he says. “I’m really good at building bridges. I’ve had to build a lot of bridges. My goal is to have the communities work together.”