If you want to join Naomi’s movement, reach out to her and follow her on social media. Watch as she brings serious attention to the issues facing Saskatchewan and Canada.

Naomi Hunter in trees and nature. Naomi is down-to-earth and very approachable. If you want to join the movement, reach out to her, follow her social media and watch as she brings serious attention to the issues facing Saskatchewan and Canada.
(Courtesy: Naomi Hunter)

Recently I had the privilege to interview Naomi Hunter. I asked her questions about the future of the Saskatchewan Green Party and her personal life. This is the second part of the interview. In this part, I focused more on her personal life, work and future. Here is what she had to say:

1. How do you deal with bullying, and with the hate that you get?

Naomi’s answer: I do receive an extraordinary amount of trolling and hate mail. First, the most important thing is that I am surrounded by a team that supports me and uplifts me. I have Greens across the country who keep me grounded and let me know how happy they are that we are building the movement in Saskatchewan. And secondly, I employ “troll blocker” options on all my social media. How it works is I type in keywords of the most common words in these comments (usually swear words because these individuals are sadly boring). This gets rid of a lot and lessens how many I need to delete.

Before my use of troll blocker [I had a] very high percentage of trolls since becoming a Green politician. After troll blocker, significantly less. Peak trolling is of course during elections or when a major issue comes up.

I also received some great advice from Elizabeth May: “you don’t have to answer the trolls, you can ignore them.” I want to be a responsive and involved politician so at first, I was trying to answer EVERYBODY, even people who clearly just wanted to argue. I realize how right she is, we need to grow the Greens and our energy needs to go to where that is possible.

Besides the trolling, I also receive many beautiful, grateful messages from people. I have always been the sort of person who could focus on the positive. You see, I grew up very poor and my mother was a single parent, I learned really young to look for the good in everything and count the blessings the universe sends.

I’ve really been focussed on growing the party. In the past two months, I’ve finally received more messages that are positive than ones where people phone or message with a personal attack. Most of the attacks are still centred around my being a woman. I must say that I LOVE the name a recent troll called me: “Feminist, tree-hugging, eco-nut, socialist”. I responded back with “thank you, those things all sound like compliments to me!”

Naomi Hunter is focussed on growing the party and bringing attention to the issues that matter. Internet trolls won’t stop her anytime soon. (Courtesy: Naomi Hunter)

2. How have you been coping and working during the pandemic? 

Naomi’s answer:  I, like so many other people in Canada, have had my livelihood severely impacted by Covid-19. My day job teaching fitness classes to seniors shut down March 15, 2020, and I couldn’t afford the rent anymore where I was living. So I actually moved within that first month of lockdown. I couldn’t get help because it was full quarantine and friends weren’t supposed to see each other. My 19- and 22-year-old children couldn’t help much because university went online and they were finishing finals at that time. It was all pretty exhausting. But we are in a cheaper place now. Unfortunately, as time goes on, I may not be able to afford that either. I may have to move yet again this winter. I’m hoping not.

Financially, I was able to collect CERB for a while. Then I worked with my father on the farm like I do every summer. My fitness work started back up on a very limited basis this fall, but only a fraction of my classes ran, certainly not enough to live off of. The Saskatchewan Green Party replaces the Leader’s wage for one month during the writ period of an election, every four years. I chose to take off September and October to focus fully on the election. So, that spread over two months was $1,000 a month.

And I make jewelry. I’ve managed to keep selling some of my silverwork every month. As you can see, it’s pretty tenuous to pay the bills right now. Recently the Saskatchewan Green Party has set up a leadership fund that people can contribute too. So that may help keep me able to focus on my Green Leadership duties with some part-time help moving forward.

I am seeing these challenges as a push from the universe to transition my income online as much as possible. I am also trying to reduce my expenses as much as I can. I feel that the climate crisis and the ever-nearing deadline it represents, requires us to have a leader who focuses on these issues fulltime. I am determined to do that, no matter how challenging that may be personally.

During elections Naomi Hunter campaigns on a bicycle. (Courtesy: Naomi Hunter)

3. Do you still feel optimistic and hopeful about the future?

Naomi’s answer: I am naturally optimistic about the future. It’s my nature. My biggest hope lies in the 35 000 Greens across the country. It makes no sense to me that when we all agree the climate crisis requires action, we would not get help in Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan and Alberta are “ground zero” for the climate crisis.

Our emissions are what are causing the rest of the country to not meet our Paris Accord Agreements. We have been honest and said we are struggling. Nothing will make sense to me, considering the severity of the crisis that we face on this planet, if Greens across the country will not unite to help us, here, where the emissions are the highest.

It is no longer an option for environmentalists to look over at Saskatchewan and Alberta and say, “they need to get it together”. This is a problem that will affect everyone. It’s logical that if I, as the Saskatchewan Green Party Leader, can make the SGP known across the country and articulate that we need help, help will come.

The funds and the volunteers to engage with Gvote or Nationbuilder are lacking currently. We have no province-wide data storage system, or a way for out-of-province volunteers to phone bank into Saskatchewan during election campaigns.

I live off very little, focused on this every single day, and I’m prepared to continue doing so. I see that here, right now, is where we must affect change and make gains. With that urgency and understanding, it’s inconceivable to me that Greens across the country would fail to unite and help us. Nothing else makes sense to me.

Prove me right. Get started by reaching out to me, join my social media, contribute to the party or my leader fund. This is an exciting time, and we need all the help we can get.

Naomi Hunter was voted as leader of the Saskatchewan Green Party in 2020. (Courtesy: Naomi Hunter)

Naomi Hunter was a pleasure to interview. She responded swiftly and enthusiastically to my request for an interview. A special thank you and good luck to Naomi on her future endeavours and the future of the Saskatchewan Green Party.

Yousef Al Khodari

Yousef Al Khodari is a first-year student at Ryerson University where he studies Journalism with a minor in biology. He is passionate about sustainable development, climate change, and human rights for journalists across the world. Thanks to his science and journalism background, he is interested in diplomacy, education for development, global public health, access to justice, and wildlife conservation. He is looking forward to helping people learn more about environmental issues and the Green parties that exist all around the world.

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