Ostberg wants to be voice of Aboriginal people

Create: 12/01/2015 - 19:39

Pic River member running for Thunder Bay council
Former Pic River First Nation band councillor Sharon Ostberg is running for councillor at large in the upcoming Thunder Bay municipal election.
“Come and support me – I will be your voice on council,” Ostberg said Sept. 3 while gearing up for the Oct. 25 election in Thunder Bay. “This is your home, this is your city. You need to have a say in what is going on.”
The long-time band councillor – she has 15 years of experience with Pic River’s band council – has not run for Thunder Bay Council before but she said the city is a great place to work, play and stay and she wants to keep it that way.
“I notice the population of Thunder Bay has a lot of Aboriginal people,” Ostberg said. “I’m hoping to become the voice of the Aboriginal people here in the city. That’s why I chose (to run as councillor) at large rather than the ward I live in.”
Ostberg retired in January from the federal public service, where she last worked as the project development co-ordinator for the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area.
She was a senior executive manager for the past 10 years with the federal government and has 20 years of experience managing federal programs.
Ostberg wants to bring back some of the federal government services that have disappeared from Thunder Bay over the past few years.
“Working for the federal government, I noticed there were a lot of federal agencies that had been leaving Thunder Bay,” Ostberg said. “For the Status of Women (Canada) program, I thought it was a very important for the people here but it has disappeared.”
Ostberg wants to attract more business to the city.
“I would like to assist a committee or play a role in council in order to solicit new businesses coming in,” Ostberg said. “We can’t depend on forestry. It takes a long time to grow trees.”
Ostberg wants to see more social housing available in Thunder Bay.
“I don’t think there is adequate geared-to-income housing for people who are on low income,” Ostberg said. “There’s a lot of people that are without houses. There are a lot of people that are couch surfers, that are living from one house to the other.”
Ostberg wants to see a change in how the social housing rental rate is determined in Thunder Bay; she said the rate is currently pegged at 30 per cent of a tenant’s income.
“They can’t get ahead,” Ostberg said. “If they go to work their rent goes up. They seem to be forcing a lot of people to stay on social welfare or mother’s allowance because if they try to help themselves their rent goes up and they can’t afford to keep their house.”
Ostberg also wants more social programs for those who are incarcerated in the justice system.
“When they come back out, at least they will have a step in the right direction,” Ostberg said. “We need more halfway and transient houses for them as well.”
Ostberg is currently a board member with the First Plan Co-operative Ltd. and she volunteers with the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Cancer Society.