Lela Evans has been turning heads since coming to the House of Assembly.
After a surprising election victory, where the Tory candidate took Torngat Mountains from Liberal Randy Edmunds, Evans has made a name for herself with passionate speeches on the floor of the House.
Born in Makkovik, Evans was worked at a number of resource development projects in Labrador, from Voisey’s Bay to Muskrat Falls before entering the political stage.
Evan’s election campaign was based on issues with the north coast ferry service, where images of spoiled food containers and tales of delayed schedules have called into question the quality of the ferry service.
Evans gets a little more personal in her 20 questions with the Telegram, reflecting on the culture shock of life up north compared to St. John’s and the wild world of provincial politics.
Evans says she’s adapting to her new life as an advocate For her home in the House Of Assembly, and always has a bag of jellybeans nearby to help her through.
1. What is your full name?
2. Where were you born?
3. Where do you live today?
I’m actually in St. John’s right now. My district is in Torngat Mountains.
4. What is your favorite place in the world?
My favorite place is Adlavik, Labrador. That’s where my grandmother and my mother lived before they moved into Makkovik.
5. Who do you follow on social media?
I follow my family because of the distance and that, so I don’t follow any political leader or any provincial parliament leaders. I follow my family, watch their posts, and my friends. It’s a connection thing.
6. What would people be surprised to learn about you?
People would be surprised to know that it was only in 2007 that I realized I was short. I’m 5’1, probably, but... I didn’t think I was short. It was actually something that I realized and I said, ‘Oh my God. I’m tiny.’ I was with the firefighting rescue team up in Voisey’s. We were doing some forest firefighting training and there’s a picture of me next to the paramedic. I know how tall he is ... and I was so small compared to him. I thought, ‘Oh my God. I’m tiny. I’m small.’ I never, ever had that impression of myself. I always thought I was a little less than average.
I’m 5’1, probably, but... I didn’t think I was short. It was actually something that I realized and I said, ‘Oh my God. I’m tiny.’
7. What has been your favorite year and why?
I don’t think I have a favorite year. I really don’t. Each year I look back on, there’s been good and bad. I’m hoping my favorite year is yet to come.
8. What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
I think the hardest thing I ever had to do was attend my father’s funeral. My father raised me. Mom was a part of the family and she helped raise me, but I spent a lot of time with my father and I learned a lot from him. He was probably the greatest influence on my life. That’s probably why it was so hard. That’s 19 years ago and I still get upset thinking about it.
9. Can you describe one experience that changed your life?
When I got hired by Inco to work at Voisey’s Bay, that changed my job, it changed the direction I was going in, it changed opportunities, and it changed my lifestyle. I went on a rotation and it involved a lot of travel. It brought me to here, actually. Getting that job really was pivotal in changing my direction in life.
10. What is your greatest indulgence?
My greatest indulgence is sitting on my couch, not doing anything. There’s not a lot of opportunity to do that, so when I can, I really enjoy it. Sometimes I procrastinate, but it’s an indulgence that I give myself, just with the type of work I’ve been in, I have to do it. You just have to have that little space and time every once in a while. When I saw the question in another 20 Questions, I was going to say jelly beans because I always had jelly beans in a little ziplock bag, when I used to be out doing field research. I could make it through the day, whether wet or cold, because of the jelly beans.
But I think my greatest indulgence is the time I can make for myself.
11. What is your favorite movie or book?
We didn’t get TV until I was 14, and it’s called "The Maltese Falcon," in black and white. It comes on every year, I think I’ll PVR it this time. I always watch it because I see different things. I remember I used to watch that when I was home. We only had CBC, the one channel. It used to come on and I’d love it.
12. How do you like to relax?
I like relaxing with friends and family. Whether it's just hanging out or if it’s doing something, like putting up the tree or shopping. I just like hanging out with people who know me and who care about me. We talked about my work, I spent so much time with different people. You’re thrown in together whether you're friends or allies or enemies. Even if a family is coming out and we don’t get a chance to see each other, we’ll go out shopping together. Just being in that personal space. It’s a very secure environment.
13. What are you reading or watching right now?
There’s one called "Emergence." It’s Sci-fi, so it’s a break with reality. I like it because you don’t know what’s going to happen. The other shows, police dramas and other ones, it’s all the same. This one, you don’t know what’s going on.
14. What is your greatest fear?
Where I’m in politics and I see what politics does, I am concerned about my family. I’m concerned about disappointing them and I’m concerned they’re going to get drawn into the negative side of the politics. You don’t realize it until you’re elected. You’re very vulnerable then. When I did that speech in the House that everyone’s talking about, somebody found my mom on Facebook and said, ‘You must be very proud of your daughter.’ I got really uncomfortable with that because this is a positive thing, but it just as well could have been something negative.
I don’t know how I’m going to deal with that. You have no control over what people say about you or whatever. That’s why I’m not on Twitter. I find that a little bit stressful. With my job, I’ve had to deal with a lot of problematic people, especially when I was at Muskrat. It was a disrespectful workplace. But, I didn’t take that home. I was living in Goose Bay at the time, but I didn’t go out and tell my sister what was said to me, they didn’t have to live that. But, with politics, you see it. It’s on the news, its in the media and all that, so that’s a big issue for me.
15. How would you describe your personal fashion?
Non-existent. I did biology, then I was doing safety. I was working in remote sites, so it’s all been more practical than anything. So, this is a different world. I am trying to care, but I really don’t care. I probably will. They haven’t started throwing stones at me yet. I’m doing to have to care.
It’s different, for a woman, but I still don’t really care.
16. What is your most treasured possession?
I have a summer, button-up jacket. It was something that belonged to my dad. You’d probably call it a sweater. It was something he always wore, so when I see it, it reminds me of him. I have it at home. I’ll never be able to replace it.
17. What physical or personality trait are you most grateful to a parent for?
Temperament. Both my mother and father are calm people. That’s something that was instilled in all of us, my whole family. There’s a calmness. We don’t really get too excited, we don’t get too upset, but we don’t get too happy either. That’s helped me in my work life and helped in my personal life.
18. What three people would you invite to join for your dream dinner party?
The problem with the three people I’d invite to dinner, I don’t think they’d get along. I wouldn’t mind having Winston Churchill. I’d like to talk to him about after the war. He was such a hero, but he never really was that successful after the war. I’d like to hear some of his war stories. Also, Pierre Trudeau. I was always fascinated with Pierre Trudeau, his personality. Also, the old John Crosbie. I know he’s not in the best of health, but I would like to get him in 1985. So, you see, they’re probably not going to like each other. Crosbie would probably turn on Trudeau and I’d have to intervene.
19. What is your best and your worst quality?
My worst quality is I don’t have a good sense of time. At home, not many people do. It only becomes a problem down here. But, it is one of my greatest ones, too. I’m not impatient with people. It’s really good for relationships and good for getting along. It’s good for myself. In the moment, it’s good, but then you're rushing around. It’s a total cultural thing. It’s almost like a genetic trait. There’s a few people that don’t have it, even though you might have been born and raised on the coast, but most of us do. I struggle with it every day. Every day from the beginning to the end, it is an issue.
20. What is your biggest regret?
Either I’m in denial, or I don’t have a lot of regrets. I really don’t. I would have liked to invest in Voisey’s Bay when it was starting. I don’t have major regret in my life choices, but that would have helped me a lot. I had some money at the time. That’s just a financial one. Who wouldn’t want to go back and invest? We knew about it, we heard the stories, heard about the ore. The rest of them, I’ve made mistakes, but I’ve gotten over them. Some of the biggest mistakes I made in my life helped me the most.