For a woman who followed her abducted daughter all the way to the English Channel, maybe winning a municipal election doesn’t seem like such a daunting task.
Tasha Brown is one of five candidates running for mayor of the City of Nanaimo.
Brown, 49, is known in the community as one of the mothers of a girl who was taken away by her biological mother in 2016, sparking an international police investigation. The girl, Kaydance Etchells, was finally located in 2019 travelling in an inflatable dinghy in the English Channel with her biological mother, brother and grandparents, and the case ended up going before the courts on the Channel Island of Jersey. Brown went there for the court case and was distressed to find that her five-year-old no longer remembered her. She didn’t want to traumatize her daughter “in the name of justice or revenge,” though she hasn’t given up on working with her ex toward a co-parenting arrangement.
“It’s been a horrible many years, but it has solidified my identity as far as I know who I am to the core – my strengths, what I can get past, what I can learn,” Brown said. “It’s heightened all of that for me.”
She’s taken on international bureaucracy, she said. She’s fought the system. She’s accomplished what seemed impossible, and it’s given her the confidence to try for the position of mayor.
It was the issue of crime and public safety that prodded her toward civic politics. Brown read about an incident in downtown Nanaimo in which a woman was mugged and knocked to the ground, and said she couldn’t be “a silent bystander” any longer.
Brown, a Qualicum school district teacher, decided to try for mayor rather than councillor because she said it’s a full-time job and she thinks making change in Nanaimo will be a full-time endeavour.
“If I take on something, I’m all in. I’m tenacious,” she said. “So that’s my attitude going into this.”
She said some aspects of her platform are still in development as she continues to meet citizens and compares their ideas to her own. She said some of the city’s social problems are the result of funding cuts and failed approaches over decades, and she would look forward to networking with other Vancouver Island mayors and advocating alongside them.
Brown said leadership is about recognizing the influence one can have on others and then putting “positive energy” into getting a message across.
She said a central idea of her campaign is bringing back community, as she recognizes the strength of community and wants to nurture, support and utilize it.
So far, the election campaign is re-connecting Brown to her community. She said although she is an outgoing person, she was reclusive for years, as it was “hard to take” what felt like looks of pity from people, even though she knows they were well-meaning and sympathetic. Running for mayor has been re-invigorating.
“It’s new life that I have,” she said.
The other mayoral candidates are Brunie Brunie, Tim Dorman, Leonard Krog and Agnes Provost.
Anyone running for mayor or councillor in the City of Nanaimo or the District of Lantzville, regional director in the Regional District of Nanaimo’s Area A, B, C or E, or school trustee in School District 68 is asked to contact the Nanaimo News Bulletin to set up an interview or invite us to a campaign launch event. Phone Greg Sakaki at 250-734-4621 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.