Chevi Rabbit, second from left, was recognized by Premier Rachel Notley as one of the 25 most influential human rights activists at the Alberta legislature recently. Rabbit’s story is one of advocacy and being positive. Posing with Rabbit is MLA Bruce Hinkley, sister Tashina Redcalf and mother Lavenia Schug. Photo submitted

Ponoka’s Chevi Rabbit recognized for human rights advocacy

She was recognized as one of the top 25 most influential human rights advocates

From negatives to positives, Chevi Rabbit’s story is one of growth, change and helping others.

Most recently, Rabbit, who is First Nations and transgender, was recognized as one of the top 25 most influential human rights advocates at the Alberta Legislature.

She and others were at the Legislature Dec. 4 to commemorate Human Rights Day, which was marked on Dec. 10 and celebrates the United Nations’ signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

Part of the reason for her advocacy relates to inclusivity and acceptance of the LGBTQ community.

“I really want to grow old and retire in a community that accepts me…I want to make Alberta a safe place,” said Rabbit.

Those efforts are making waves.

On the heels of this recent acclaim, the 32-year-old was announced as one of the Avenue Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40 for 2017. “It was really surprising,” said Rabbit of the experience.

Being recognized as one of the most influential young people in Edmonton comes from her Hate to Hope advocacy work. The rallies stem from being attacked in 2012 for being openly gay. It was a turning point in her life.

“I’m not a victim. So I turned it around into something else,” said Rabbit.

For Rabbit, it’s about a person’s ability rather than the label that makes them.

“I got in by merit and it wasn’t because I was First Nations or transgender. It was because of the work I’ve done,” said Rabbit.

“I’m not defined by all these little boxes.”

Being named with the other human rights leaders in the province was an honour for Rabbit, who was able to meet industry leaders and other individuals who are change-makers.

For her, community involvement comes naturally. Rabbit grew up in a family involved in First Nations politics and working to better the community’s needs is something she saw at an early age.

That desire for community involvement is giving her something to think about for the next municipal election. While it’s early days yet, Rabbit is looking at the potential of a run for Ward 8 in Edmonton in four years.

Looking at the positive is a key part of Rabbit’s life. Regardless of the challenges she’s faced over the years she moves forward. “You can succeed and not get stuck in the bitterness.”

Another area of focus for Rabbit is to raise money for a film she’d like to produce about two-spirit traditions and individuals.

“I want to know what’s going on in the lives of two-spirit people,” said Rabbit.

Regardless of her political drive, Rabbit plans to continue her successful Hate to Hope campaign and raise money for groups and associations that are in need.

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