I believe in a St. John’s where residents feel connected to each other and to the place they call home regardless of age, ability, income, race, or gender. We face a lot of challenges as a city: a sprawling car-centric urban fabric, a harsh climate, an aging population, an uncertain provincial economy. Now more than ever, municipal politics has both immediate and long-term impacts on the day-to-day lives of Canadians as we grapple with the effects, both present and future, of the climate, economic, and social crises of our times. I believe that we can work together to improve the place we call home to build a healthy, sustainable, and just city that works for the residents of St. John’s.
Currently, my portfolios are Planning and Development, Heritage, Youth, Audit, and Animal Care and Control. I serve as a City representative on the St. John’s Urban Indigenous Coalition. I am an ex-officio board member for the Northeast Avalon Atlantic Coastal Action Program and a board member for The Children’s Centre. I co-chair the St. John’s Food Policy Council.
Born in Calgary in 1991, I grew up in Brigus, Conception Bay, where my mother, Jackie Bartlett, and her family have lived for generations. My father, Andy Burton, is a retired geophysicist. My step-father, Ron Pomeroy, is an electrician. My mother’s parents, Bob and Tina Bartlett, ran an upholstery shop in Brigus. On my father’s side, my grandfather Rev. Joe Burton, is a retired United Church Minister and his wife, Carole, supported the ministry while raising 3 kids. Growing up, community was vital to our health and happiness. My parents, my brother, my grandparents, and my extended family were always close by. Like many people in Newfoundland and Labrador, we lived on a fixed income after the economic downturn of the 1990s, and relied on our resilience and creativity and the support of our family to get by. Today, I live in downtown St. John’s with my family, surrounded by wonderful neighbours and friends.
I was elected to Council when I was 26 in 2017 to a gender-balanced Council, thanks to many supporters and volunteers. Here’s how I got here! Tl;dr: everything I know I learned from music education and an amazing support network.
I had my kids young, I was 20 and in music school when my son Jack was born. My daughter Ursula was born in 2014 at home with a midwife-assisted birth, when we lived on Blackhead Village Road, near Cape Spear. Their father and I are separated, and continue to co-parent and work together as musicians. His name is Chris McGee, and he is awesome. My current partner, Michael Collins, is a lawyer and violinist who grew up in St. John’s.
I graduated from the French Immersion program at Ascension Collegiate and came to St. John’s in 2009 for university, where I fell in love with our arts scene and vibrant community. I completed a Bachelor of Music (Honours) degree at Memorial University in 2013, where I studied violin and medieval music history. Essentially, I wrote a very long paper about authenticity and modern medieval performance practice of the secular music of Guillaume de Machaut, and gave a graduation recital including works by Ives and Corelli that you can find on Youtube! As a kid growing up out around the bay, I thank my grandparents Rev. Joe and Carole Burton for driving me into the big city once a week for violin lessons and orchestra. I also acknowledge that Bay Roberts has the absolute best music teachers. Andrew Mercer, Deanne Delahunty, Yvonne Stellisano, and Gordon King, thanks for your constant support throughout my childhood. I grew up fiddling with the above noted and first studied classical violin with Dr. Andrea Rose and Rufina Sirotinina, both huge influences on my life, and later with the incomparable Dr. Nancy Dahn. Peter Gardner was the conductor of the Newfoundland Symphony Youth Orchestra (now called Calos), and his encouragement and mentorship was crucial to my success as a young musician. Thank you all.
Before joining Council, I taught the violin using the Suzuki method to about 30 students aged 3–18. I was also a management and leadership coach, working at an international level with senior executives at a major publicly traded resource company. I’m the former co-artistic director of STEP, a local Suzuki education method nonprofit, as well as the former co-artistic director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Suzuki Institute, a summer program that takes place each summer in the city. As a freelance musician, I’m the founder and co-artistic director of the St. John’s New Music Collective, which is on hiatus while I serve on Council. I play violin in the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra. I’ve recorded several RPM’s as half of the experimental pop duo, Door Lock. I am a published and award-winning poet, writing mostly about the experiences of women throughout Newfoundland history. Bridging music and tourism, I’ve also worked with many local festivals as a volunteer or summer student during my time at Memorial.
In the last year, my focus has shifted somewhat to thinking about social innovation and how change occurs in communities across Atlantic Canada. I was one of two 2019 WeavEast Fellows, which involved talking to community leaders across Newfoundland and Labrador, and am currently working on something called theNarrative Project with How We Thrive. In 2019, I participated in the Canadian Urban Transit Association’s Young Leaders Summit, the Youthful Cities Canada Future of Urban Work Summit, and was appointed as a Committee member with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities on the following committees: Environmental Issues and Sustainable Development, Increasing Women’s Participation in Municipal Government, and Municipal Infrastructure and Transportation Policy. I chaired the Urban Planning & Buildings session during DecarbonizeNL. I also served on the Electoral Reform subcommittee for Council in 2018-19.
In my spare time, I enjoy gardening and hiking, I am an avid writer and painter, and I love spending time with my children and read as many books as I can. I love my cat, Bess, who I adopted from the SPCA, and I have a lot of houseplants.