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Meena Wong promises COPE will propose an amendment to the Vancouver Charter to empower the City to set a municipal minimum wage at $15/hour, to be indexed to inflation.

John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

Meena Wong still remembers the first time she came to Vancouver.

It was the beginning of January in 1981, and she showed her visa and what she thought was her passport to the officer at customs.

"The immigration officer crossed out Chinese and put down 'stateless.' It was a like a stab in the heart," Ms. Wong said. The documents she had were not valid. When she finally got her Canadian citizenship, she says, that memory of being 19 and standing at customs made it all the more meaningful.

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The COPE mayoral candidate grew up in China during the Cultural Revolution, an experience she says has given her a strong sense of social justice. When she was 11, she and her family left for Hong Kong.

She remembers attending a rally outside of the Ministry of Health with her mother, a medical doctor. Ms. Wong says it was her "first brush with democracy."

She got her start in Canadian politics knocking on doors for long-time Toronto New Democrat MPP Rosario Marchese. Later, she spent three years as an assistant to Olivia Chow, who was then a Toronto city councillor.

Now, she has become a political candidate in her own right. She says she wants to see Vancouver become a truly inclusive city, especially for recent immigrants.

"We call ourselves a world city, but we need to be more inclusive. I intend to build bridges," she said.

Over the years, Ms. Wong has worked in business and property management, mental health, arts and culture, and civic engagement. She has been involved with COPE since 2005, and is the left-wing party's first mayoral candidate since 2002. In 2011, she ran unsuccessfully for the federal NDP in Vancouver-South.

If elected, Ms. Wong would be Vancouver's first female mayor and its first mayor of Asian descent.

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