By Tiffany Cassidy
Jared Brown made history at the University of Saskatchewan.
On March 29 the U of S students elected their first aboriginal president. The student union election results showed Brown beat the next closest candidate by 29 votes.
“It just kind of blossomed,” Brown said about his campaign. “Everything fell together at the right time; everyone came together.”
Brown said he understands being the first Aboriginal to represent his school in this prominent role means breaking barriers, but that he ran because of a desire to help the entire student body, not just Aboriginals. In fact, Brown chose to leave his ethnicity completely out of it.
“I didn’t run the campaign on being an Aboriginal Person, I stayed away from it because I knew it wouldn’t be a good thing,” he said.
“For the people who are involved in student politics here, they’re fully aware that I’m aboriginal, I make it very, very apparent. But for everybody else who isn’t, sometimes that pushes people away. ”
Brown said his policies focus on social issues that affect every student, from campus safety to sustainability.
One of the main reasons for his success, he added, was the support from his friend Marylou Mintram who helped him with every aspect of his campaign.
Mintram said the campaign was not without challenges.
“Sometimes you don’t get the greatest tweet or something on Facebook was said. Campaigns are pretty harsh, especially student politics.” Mintram’s own campaign for an executive position was unsuccessful.
She said what set Brown apart from the other candidates was his constant effort to communicate and bring information to students. She attributes an increase in voter turnout partly to his ability to motivate students who had never thought to vote before.
“During the last rush he spent that entire time on campus just talking to students,” she said.
Brown’s success story is one of the first in the country. In 2008/2009 the University of Winnipeg had an aboriginal co-president, Tasha Spillett. At three of British Columbia’s colleges there has been an aboriginal president in the past five years.
At the U of S, many are celebrating their new president’s achievement.
“I already have aboriginal people saying stuff, getting really excited,” Brown said. “While it’s added pressure to me it also makes me very humble and I’m really thankful for all the help that was given to me.”