Chris van Ouwerkerk

Candidate statement

My motivation is pure and simple: make Prince Edward Island better in any way I possibly can and to work as hard as I possibly can to do so. I am seeking this nomination because I know it is time to get to work to do what I can to achieve that. I would make a good MLA because I am not beholden to anything or anyone and I believe in the core values of the Green Party. As an MLA I would be a tireless worker. I would listen and respect my constituents while also standing up for what I believe in. More than anything, I would do everything I can do to make myself, my friends and my family proud. 

Biography

Chris van Ouwerkerk has never followed a set path. He’s also never stopped working since he started in a grocery store meat department at 14. His journey started in Charlottetown at the QEH as the son of long haul truck driver and a Registered Nurse, and that journey has included touring parts of Canada and the United States in a band, receiving a Bachelor’s degree in History from Memorial University of Newfoundland and a Law degree from the University of New Brunswick, starting a beef jerky brand and opening a butcher shop all while driving back and forth between PEI and New Brunswick for the first 2 years, while also falling in love and having a daughter with his wife Jenn. He has been lucky enough to live in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Saint John, New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Ottawa, Ontario and Vancouver British Columbia while never staying away from PEI for too long. 

As the founder and owner of Jercules: Fine Beef Jerky since June 2015 and Butcher & Butcher: Fine Island Meat since January 2016, he has used his position to raise funds for and support many community organizations including the Canadian Mental Health Association, Pride PEI, the Boys and Girls Club, Maritime Greyhound Adoption Program, the REACH Foundation, Inner City Youth Skills Camps, Big Brothers Big Sisters, among many others. 

Chris became a father for the first time in August, 2020. He lives in Charlottetown with his wife Jenn and his daughter Elsie. 

 

Additional information

What is your connection with the district in which nomination is sought? 

  • Briefly lived in Sherwood 
  • Attended Stonepark Intermediate in the riding 
  • Owned a business which was located in the adjacent neighbourhood

 

Please describe your alignment (and/or any disagreement) with party values or policy, or with positions publicly stated by Green MLAs (please provide examples): 

I strongly believe that the core values of the Green Party of Prince Edward Island are some of the same core values I share. Living within our ecological and financial means is something I can relate to from not only a fiscally conservative nature but also from my belief that the world is taking our natural habitat for granted to an extreme. Local self-reliance is a major belief of mine. As a small business owner I know how much stronger communities are when they rely upon each other. It is what makes this island so great. Grassroots democracy, active citizenship and self-determination is what led me to politics in the first place. The late Jack Layton was my first political icon. Following his beautifully crafted words laid out in his last letter, I understood that getting involved and taking my place in a democracy into my own hands was crucial to ensuring my voice was heard. Finally a just society and a culture of peace are what led me to my love of and education in the law. You can not have a just society without a culture of peace and to strive for one is to strive for the other. Reading through these core values outlined by the Green Party of PEI is what assured me that becoming a member and candidate would be the right decision. 

What would you describe as your most important personal value(s)? 

Loyalty and Integrity are the values that I hold in the highest regard. For many the two can be difficult to make co-exist, but I believe there can’t truly be one without the other. 

What is your ability to commit time and other resources to your campaign?

I will commit as much time and energy as it takes to win this seat. I am in a privileged position where I own my own business and have an excellent staff who are ready to step up and make sure I have the time to do what is needed during the campaign. 

Please tell us about your education and work experience 

I have a Bachelor’s degree in History from Memorial University of Newfoundland and a Law degree from UNB. I have worked on and off in the meat industry since 2001 when I was hired in the meat department of Sobeys. I was lucky enough to apprentice under a British butcher in Vancouver in 2015 and to take my knowledge with me back to PEI to eventually open my own butcher shop. While in my first year of law school I started making and selling beef jerky out of a local shop and during my second year of law school I started my own shop, travelling back and forth between Fredericton and Charlottetown every week from January 2016 until I graduated in May 2017. 

Community involvement, experience in organizations

I have been an executive member of AIDS PEI (now PEERS Alliance), an Executive Member, Council Member, and Youth Wing Leader of the NDP PEI. I have also fundraised for numerous organizations both directly and indirectly including CMHA, PEI Military Family Resource Centre, the Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Pride PEI, among many others. 

Achievements/Accomplishments 

Please tell us about any personal achievements or accomplishments that you are particularly proud of. 

I have lived a privileged life and I try not to take it for granted. I have been lucky enough to tour this country in a band and play alongside some amazing and successful bands. I have been lucky enough to take part in some amazing academic programs and have represented both Memorial University of Newfoundland and the University of New Brunswick at conferences and competitions respectively. I have built a successful and well established business from $1000 of saved up money and been able to give back to my community while doing so. I had been a candidate in two provincial elections before I turned 30 and look forward to my first by-election. That said, my greatest accomplishment and my largest source of pride is my 7 week old daughter Elsie Mae. 

Prior political party involvement: 

  • NDP Candidate 2011 & 2015 election (District 6) 
  • NDP Executive Member (2011-2016) 
  • Progressive Conservative Member (2017-18) 

 

Email address: [email protected]