FORMER Calgary City Councillor Jyoti Gondek has been elected mayor of Calgary. She bagged 174,649 votes (45% of the total votes cast) — 58,907 votes more than her nearest rival, former City Councillor Jeromy Farkas who got 115,742 votes (30%).
Gondek was born in the U.K. to Punjabi parents originating from India, Jyoti emigrated with her family at the age of four, settling in Manitoba.
According to her website, “her father, Jasdev Singh Grewal, trained as a lawyer in India, the U.K. and Canada. Battling prejudice and closed doors as a professional with a turban, he made sacrifices to provide for his family while still practising law. With sadness and resolve, he cut his hair and moved from active practise into a leadership role with Manitoba’s Land Titles Office system. This was the start of their family’s journey throughout the province, where she was often the only visible minority in her class.
“Jyoti’s childhood in Manitoba was pretty typical—learning how to skate on a pond, playing basketball, listening to music, and hanging out with friends. At home she spoke Punjabi to retain her mother tongue and dreamed about where her future would take her. By the mid 1980s, she was also witness to Canada’s power of inclusion as more South Asian families made the Prairies their home and her dad returned to wearing his turban.
“After graduating from high school in Brandon and earning her undergraduate degree from the University of Manitoba, Jyoti took a position as a policy analyst with Family Services and played team handball with a group of friends that still reunite once a year to reminisce about their athletic prowess. She also found the time to embrace love and married a guitar-playing engineer named Todd.”
Her website states: “After the wedding, Jyoti and Todd moved to Alberta, had a short stint in Wainwright, and settled in Calgary where she continued her new career within the Credit Union family in Alberta and Saskatchewan. A few years later, she took a leadership role at Greyhound Canada…
“In 2000, Jyoti’s parents moved from Manitoba to Calgary to be closer to family. After the sudden passing of her father a short time later, Jyoti found herself stepping into his shoes and picking up community work he had started. Carrying on his legacy with others in the South Asian community, they were instrumental in getting Punjabi instituted as a second language option in the Calgary Board of Education, opening up dialogue about the role of culture and religion in public education, and addressing domestic violence.”
Her household consists of her mum Surjit, husband Todd and 16-year-old son Justice.
She has an undergraduate degree in sociology and criminology, an M.A. in organizational sociology that focused on corporate social responsibility, and a Ph.D. in urban sociology.
In 2014, Gondek was asked to lead the newly formed Westman Centre for Real Estate Studies at the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business. She was there for three years.
She was elected councillor in 2017.
ALSO, Raj Dhaliwal was elected one of 14 councillors.