Since 2012 Martensville City Councillor Jamie Martens has been taking leaps and bounds in her political career, proving that a small-town girl from Saskatchewan can achieve more than she ever imagined.
Growing up in Martensville, Martens always believed that her father would have been successful if he had attempted to run for a position on Council, because he was always interested in what was happening within the community, and knew everyone in town. The year he passed away, Martens decided to run for a spot as a City Councillor as a nod to her father, just to see what would happen.
Surprising herself, Martens was elected in and decided that this was something she felt very passionate about. “I didn’t imagine that I would actually get elected so was quite surprised, but also very excited. I was new to the position, so there was a learning curve but I was willing to do what it took and put my whole heart into it,” Martens said.
Since then, Martens has run in two more municipal elections and is currently serving her third term as a City Councillor and she doesn’t plan on stopping there.
Through her role on City Council, Martens was fortunate enough to attend a conference for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) as Martensville has been a member of FCM for quite some time, along with over 2000 municipalities within Canada.
“The conference blew me away. There was so much more behind it than I ever could have imagined and it was there I realized how much potential was out there. I saw the opportunities for representation for each province and knew that I wanted to be involved in this, so I decided to take that step and put my name forward to see what would happen,” Martens said.
In 2020, Martens was elected for her first term with FCM, which lasts a year, and recently, she was elected for a second term. In Saskatchewan, there are five available positions, with two of those being held by Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) and Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM). Another position is held strictly from the three major Saskatchewan cities; Saskatoon, Regina and Prince Albert. The two remaining spots are voted upon, with Martens having been elected into one of them.
“I have learned so much over the past year and the individuals that I have worked alongside are incredible. Everyone is so passionate and respectful of one another. I have also had the opportunity to meet some federal leaders and learned that many of them started out the same way I did, which is inspiring.”
Through her role within FCM, Martens has been appointed to several committees, most recently gaining a position on the Gender-Based Violence Technical Working Group and the CANWILL (Canadian Women in Local Leadership) Project Advisory Committee.
Martens was recently elected through FCM to be the Vice Chair for the Canadian Rural Forum (CRF). “I was so blown away that I got in that I think my jaw hit the floor when they called my name.”
In this position, Martens now has the opportunity to look at various issues that rural municipalities under 100,000 population within Canada face. One major issue that was brought to light throughout the COVID pandemic was the dependency on broadband and how some rural areas were lacking in that department.
“That was a big realization through the pandemic and realizing how many more communities were without this and how much we rely on it. It was brought to the federal government and they signed on to give $1.1 billion to enhance Canada’s broadband. To be on the forefront of that was really exciting.”
One of the highlights of working with FCM for Martens is being a party neutral group. All issues are brought forward to everyone, no matter what party they represent and it is discussed from there. “As we meet people, we see them for the person they are and not the party they are from.”
Since embarking on her political journey, Martens noted that it has been a huge confidence boost. “I have always been the type of person that likes to sit back, listen and really understand what it going on before I speak. I never want to speak off turn, or not really understand what is going on. I like to take it all in and then give my opinion on things and throughout this past year, I feel like I have spoken up a lot more.”
When Martens was elected to FCM she learned that there was only 21% of females representing politics within Canada. “Being a woman in politics isn’t easy, but I come from a male dominated career, so it is something I am used to. As women, we do have different hurdles to overcome and it can be intimidating; however, FCM is very big into diversity and breaking down and exposing that gap to work through it, which is amazing.”
Following a two-week summit with Tunisia, a country in Northwest Africa, and seeing that they have a whopping 49% female representation in politics really opened Martens eyes as to how far behind Canada is. “Since then I have learned the different reasons why and have become involved in different groups through FCM that helps bring more women involved in politics and provides mentorship opportunities. I have also met these incredible inspirational people that have really pushed me to pursue a future in politics by possibly running for an MLA position one day, or an MP position if that’s in the cards.”
For other women looking at pursuing a role in politics, or on any board or committee, Martens encourages them to take the plunge. “To be completely honest, every time I have put my name forward I have been scared and nervous. But if I hadn’t tried, I would have missed out on this amazing journey that I have been on. I have learned so much about myself and the kind of politician I want to be. I am so honoured and never take one day for granted.”
This experience and working through her own struggles within politics has inspired Martens to look forward as to how she can help other women bridge that gap as well. Working alongside another local elected figure, Martens hopes to be a part of a mentorship program for women who want to be on boards or committees to help provide them with tools to help them along their journey.
“I know sometimes it is hard to have the confidence to do these things, but you can do it. I truly believe if you keep positive and push forward, you can accomplish anything. No matter how big or small, don’t shy away from it and don’t let anyone else convince you that you can’t because if you really want it, nothing can stop you.”