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20 Questions with Hope Jamieson, former St. John’s city councillor

Jamieson recently vacated her Ward 2 city council seat to accept a position as program manager with a national housing organization. -JUANITA MERCER/THE TELEGRAM
Hope Jamieson recently vacated her Ward 2 city council seat to accept a position as program manager with a national housing organization.— Juanita Mercer

She's a mom, yoga instructor and a trained welder

When Hope Jamieson was elected in 2017, she was part of a large shift in the demographics of St. John’s city council.

Four years earlier, an all-male council was elected — but in 2017, city council looked younger, more progressive, and more gender-equal with almost half the the seats filled by women.

Earlier this month, Jamieson announced her departure as the Ward 2 representative in order to begin a new career as program manager with the Community Housing Transformation Centre, a national non-profit that aims to grow the community housing sector.

In an interview with The Telegram last week, Jamieson said it’s a big switch from her role on council where oftentimes, people would get in touch because they were upset about something, whereas now she said that her work largely involves calling people to give them money.

Jamieson smiled as she recalled the high points of being on council, especially when it involved helping residents resolve problems.

In her outgoing speech during her last council meeting, Jamieson said she was proud of everything council accomplished in the past few years, such as improved engagement, greater inclusion and a strategy to increase affordable housing.

Now, a byelection race is in full swing to replace her seat, but Jamieson’s pace was at a stroll Thursday morning as she meandered through Bannerman Park and Government House grounds with The Telegram and answered 20 Questions.


20 Questions

1. What is your full name?

Hope Elizabeth Jamieson.

2. Where and when were you born?

St. John’s, in 1989.

3. Where do you live today?

St. John’s.

4. What’s your favourite place in the world?

Out around the bay where I grew up (Swift Current), there’s a waterfall across the river and up a ways that you can kayak to, and then you hike up a hill and you can't see anything made by humans. It's just you and the bears, and that's my favourite place to go on earth.

5. Who do you follow on social media?

Oh, I follow a lot of people related to urban planning and housing. And I follow a lot of cool yogis on Instagram because yoga is a big interest of mine as well. Jessamyn Stanley is someone I really enjoy because she kind of shakes up the narratives about yoga.

6. What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I think it kind of depends where you know me from, and how you know me, because I feel I can be a lot of different people in a day, or in a lifetime. So, some people might be surprised to learn that I’m trained as a welder. Some people might be surprised to learn that I’m a yoga teacher.

7. What’s been your favourite year and why?

2017. That’s the year I met my partner; I traveled to Cuba on a yoga retreat; my daughter was two, which was a glorious, sweet and adorable age; and I got elected to city council. So, a lot went on.

8. What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done?

Learning to set healthy boundaries is a thing that I struggled with in my life in a lot of different ways just because of the way I grew up, and the perceptions that I had about my worth in the world. And that’s been definitely a struggle, but probably the work that I’ve put in personally that has yielded the best results for my well-being.

9. Can you describe one experience that changed your life?

Running for city council because you get to know yourself, and your community, and the people around you in a way that, like, there’s no other circumstance in which it is socially acceptable to talk to thousands of strangers about their lives. And you get this incredible insight into the way people think and feel that is impossible to access otherwise.

10. What’s your greatest indulgence?

I spend way too much time looking at recipes on the internet, and sometimes I even cook fancy things from them. I subscribe to New York Times Cooking, and there’s a lot of very super deluxe fancy things in there that I like to either make or just imagine making.

11. What is your favourite movie or book?

It changes all the time. I’m not very good at watching movies, but my favourite book right now is “Fingersmith” by Sarah Waters.

12. How do you like to relax?

I read a lot of books. I exercise a lot. I do yoga. I go to the park with my kids. I like to spend a lot of time outdoors - hiking, or dipping my toes in a pond.

13. What are you reading or watching right now?

I’m reading a book called “Sex at Dawn” which is about the evolution of the way that we relate to each other. I like to read a lot about science and psychology, so that’s satisfying that interest. I usually have a couple of books going at once, so I’m also reading “Rubyfruit Jungle” by Rita Mae Brown.

14. What is your greatest fear?

I have an irrational fear of strange birds. Regular birds, I’m fine. If I’m familiar with a bird, it doesn’t freak me out, but if I’ve never seen a bird before — one time, when I lived in the Yukon, a strange bird surprised me, and I actually screamed at the top of my lungs.

15. If you had to perform karaoke, which song would you choose and why?

Definitely “Joey” by Concrete Blonde. (I’m) sad now that I can’t join with my friends to sing that at the real intense high part, but (it’s) still worth doing on your own.

16. What is your most treasured possession?

I don’t really hold on to material things very much, but I do have all of my kids’ first ultrasound pictures, and — this may be a bit weird — their umbilical cords in a folder in one of our closets. If my house was on fire, that’s probably the thing I would grab.

17. What physical or personality trait are you most grateful to a parent for?

My dad has a great talent for talking to people and relating to all kinds of people from different walks of life. And I think that is a great gift that he gave me because it’s allowed me to build relationships with all sorts of people in different scenarios in my life, and I definitely learned that from watching him.

18. What three people would join you for your dream dinner party?

Grace Sparkes, for sure — there’s your sass covered. My maternal grandmother, also for sass. And Maggie Burton. I think we’d have fun.

19. What is your best quality, and what is your worst quality?

I’m a firm believer that either “good” or “bad” qualities can be perceived in either way. I'm very bold. I’m not super concerned about rules, or typical ways of doing things. The flip side of that is that I can sometimes be somewhat impulsive and act without due forethought. So, they’re kind of the same thing, but there are benefits and drawbacks to both.

20. What’s your biggest regret?

I think that there are a lot of situations in my life where I didn’t stand up for myself soon enough, and I think that things could have gone better if I had the courage to do that before I did. So, I guess I wish that I had cultivated the ability to say ‘No,’ or remove myself from situations that weren't working, earlier in my life.

Twitter: @juanitamercer_

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Note: Some responses were edited for length.

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