On January 12, Jenica Atwin, Green MP for Fredericton, won the Maclean’s Parliamentarian of the Year Rising Star Award.
Atwin, who has been in the role since 2019, was honoured to be given this award, and thanked her family, friends, and team in a video shared on Maclean’s Twitter page.
“Thank you for believing in me, for inspiring me, and for just giving me the drive to do what we do in Ottawa,” Atwin said in the video, addressing her constituents in Fredericton. “Your voice is with me, and it's been heard loud and clear.”
Atwin, who transitioned into federal politics just one year after running in the provincial election, explained that she initially became a provincial political candidate on a whim. While on maternity leave with her son, she anticipated that she would volunteer with a campaign but ended up running in the provincial election.
“Little did I know that the very next year I’d be jumping into federal politics,” said Atwin, explaining that her initial venture into provincial politics was daunting due to the size of her riding, adding, “I'm very thankful that I ultimately made the decision to get involved.”
Under COVID-19 restrictions, many members of Parliament have been unable to attend in person. Atwin was able to attend in-person meetings as much as possible, but explained that there was an increase in correspondence between her colleagues, as well as her constituents who had a variety of concerns and were looking for help.
“I think that would be the biggest change – it’s just the increase of work, but it’s all very rewarding work because it’s wonderful when you get to help someone,” Atwin explained.
As Atwin continues in her position, she aims to identify and highlight issues that are not getting enough focus, prioritizing intersectionality and putting in the work to get results for her constituents. She credits her master’s degree in Critical Studies in Education for giving her the ability to look at issues from multiple perspectives and make informed decisions.
“I can feel more comfortable knowing that I have kind of done the due diligence,” she said. “I will continue to do the hard work behind the scenes.”
Atwin always aims to give her respect to her colleagues despite any differences that they may have, and she feels that, because of this, she has been afforded a great deal of respect in return.
“I really do want to be collaborative, especially during COVID-19,” said Atwin, explaining that she has forged many friendships with colleagues of various parties. “I think that has led to some really positive relationships.”