Her competitive events at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games complete, Jasmine Mian’s thoughts immediately turned to what lie ahead for herself.
“I remember, actually, after I competed in Rio sitting in the Olympic village and thinking, ‘You know, this isn’t going to be the best thing that I do with my life,'” the Barrie-native and wrestler recalled thinking.
Mian knew she had much more to contribute.
Where her passion and drive for wrestling had once placed her among the world’s best in the sport, she now finds that same passion and drive for the city she now proudly calls home.
Wanting to make a difference has led Mian into the world of politics and running for a Ward 3 seat on Calgary’s City Council in the upcoming election on October 18.
“I’m a fighter and I think that’s in my DNA, and I always knew after wrestling I would channel it into something else,” said the former Kempenfelt Bay Wrestling Club member who lives in Calgary with her husband, Jake. “With my love and passion for cities, that’s why I decided to run.”
Mian moved to the western city nearly 10 years ago, growing to love her new home. By getting more involved in the community, she became better connected with it.
She volunteered and joined numerous organizations, both inside and outside of sports.
“I think I’ve always known I wanted to be in leadership,” the 31-year-old added. “I’ve had a lot of great opportunities to grow as an individual, as an athlete, as a leader and I got more involved in Calgary when I moved here almost a decade ago now.
“My goal was to come here because it was a great place for opportunity. I was an Olympian and this was a world class city, and really a place where a lot of people come to make dreams come true, whether that’s in sports, or entrepreneurship or in other aspects of life.”
Mian isn’t picking an easy time to join politics in the western city. With the recent struggles in the energy sector, the province of Alberta was already struggling economically when the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
Still, you won’t find her backing away.
“I’m not afraid of a challenge,” she said. “I think as an athlete you learn that the struggle is what makes it so rewarding. Calgary is in a tough spot right now. We have a lot that we’re going to have to deal with in the post pandemic and rebuilding our economy as we transition to a real diversified economy, but I think it presents a huge opportunity.”
Mian believes her approach is what is needed now.
“I have an ability to dream big, but focus small and I think that’s what Calgary needs right now.”
Calgary, she says, is a city that loves to win and is full of passionate, solution orientated people. Young, diverse and has a really great spirit.
“I believe in this city so much and I want it to believe in itself again,” said Mian, who a bronze medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland. “We have so much to build on.”
She points to the collaboration between the public and private sector, which she says is one of the reasons they became a global economic force in oil and gas.
The private sector made the investment to get the oil out of the oil sands, while public institutions and research institutions did the work to figure out how to do that.
“I think it’s that same area of collaboration that’s going to be part of Calgary’s economic recovery, and I think there’s some really exciting emerging industries happening in Calgary,” she said. “We are well positioned to be a hub for so many different things and we have a very talented young work force.
“The future is very bright for Calgary and we’ve had a very bright past as well, so I think it’s sometimes hard to see that. But I see that, and that’s why I’m getting involved.”
Like wrestling, politics can be very hands on. The similarities don’t stop there.
“Politics and wrestling are both blood sports,” she said, before laughing out loud. “They really have a lot of similarities. There’s a lot of work. Very little glory, but it’s so meaningful and being a city councillor, I think, will be more meaningful than anything I’ve done in sports because the impact you can have is just so much greater.
“In sport, you train in anonymity for years for a shot to be great and to represent Canada. I don’t think you can achieve as an athlete unless you’re committed to excellence because the day-to-day grind is difficult. . .. you know that you’re making a difference.”
Mian sees a real opportunity in running for council this election. For the first time in decades, half of the 15 members of council are going to flip.
“There’s lots of open seats right now and that means they’re going to have a new face in seven different positions, and that’s really exciting,” said Mian, who has a Master’s Degree in public policy where she focused on the municipal policy issue. “I think we have to go into a different direction as a city and this particular election is historic and I think we need a historic shift.”
That she’s a woman running for council is not lost on Mian. In the last year she spent a good deal of time encouraging women to run for politics when she was involved with the Ask Her YYC organization.
Encouraging every female leader to run, helping them with the resources and support to run.
“I decided, ‘You know what, I have all the resources and support to run too,'” Mian said. “I have the passion. We’re rebuilding as a city and I think we need a next generation of leaders for the next generation of Calgary, so I decided to do it.”
She said you only have to look at Calgary to see why it’s so important that women run. A young vibrant city, she added, where it’s a third visible minority and half the population are women.
“More and more people are realizing that council tables should look like the city, and I agree,” Mian said.
While she’s far from Barrie, Mian admits she thinks a lot about the city she grew up in. In a lot of ways, she is who she is because of Barrie and especially the Kempenfelt Bay Wrestling Club.
“I think back to all the skills that I apply now in my life, running for city council,” she said. “All the skills that I learned as a young kid at K-Bay wrestling in Barrie. Training at the Bear Creek Secondary School gym, it’s all the same fundamental things.”
It’s why she always such a passionate advocate for sport.
“We think about sport as something that builds your physical and mental toughness, but really I think we build great leaders in sport,” Mian said. “We build great husbands and wives, and sisters and brothers.
“It’s ultimately about character development and that started in Barrie. I go back whenever I can and go back to the K-Bay Wrestling Club and see all the kids and my old coach, Nick Cryer. It’s so amazing. I definitely don’t forget where I started.”