Last week, James Peters published an editorial on what to look for in a city council candidate in light of the municipal election on October 20th.
I found myself nodding along as I read his recommendations. I also realized that I need to do a much better job of telling Kamloops who I am…and not just what it says on my resume (which is here for anyone who is interested!).
I grew up in a family of five kids, my mom a single parent after my parents separated when I was 11. The second oldest, with three younger brothers and an older sister who had moved away, I learned quickly to take charge and be responsible.
For the better part of my formative years, I lived in a small, rough and tumble rural town in northern BC. This experience shaped who I am today and instilled in me an acute appreciation for the power of education (the subject of the non-fiction piece which earned me a spot on the long-list in CBC’s 2017 non-fiction contest out of thousands of entries).
It was a harsh and challenging environment. We had little money and I clung to education as a ticket to a better life. I watched as friends and family succumbed to drug and alcohol dependence, and how they slipped easily into the cycle of poverty and addiction.
This terrified me. I worked any job I had to in order to save enough funds to start a new life.
A young single parent, I drove 100 km each way to take university transfer courses at Northern Lights College. I drove Bobcats, dump trucks, built trails and log homes, and filled grocery bags and beer glasses.
In 2001, I finally had enough money for my ticket to a new life. In August of that year, I packed up my son (then three), my meagre belongings and moved to Kamloops.
I’d never set foot in the city, nor did I know anyone here. I chose Kamloops because it was the most livable and affordable city at the time, and because a trusted friend recommended the college as one of the best.
So began my journey as a student at UCC, then TRU.
Building a new life from scratch is tireless and often thankless. While my peers at university were worrying about making it to Buck a Beer night at the Max, I was worrying how I was going to pay my bills, keep my grades up so I qualified for scholarships, and be a good mom. I lived in low-income housing and picked up freelance writing work where I could to bridge income gaps.
These years were isolating and hard, but the support I found in the faculty and in the Kamloops community gave me the much-needed strength to keep pushing. Having others believe in me allowed me to believe in myself, even in the face of medical challenges.
Despite these challenges, I engaged in volunteering at the downtown YMCA teaching early morning fitness classes (if you ever went to morning spin, you likely saw me there!). This provided me with a means to afford a membership and access to recreation for myself and my son, a connection to the community, and many empowering experiences.
I went on to become a fitness instructor at other facilities while I finished university, supplementing my income, and my emotional and physical health, through sport. It’s the reason I now sit on the city’s Parks and Recreation Committee. Recreation provides opportunities for growth you can’t find in a classroom and builds stronger people and communities.
Over the last 17 years, I’ve worked a wide range of jobs from natural gas pipelines to educational program delivery, from editor to fundraiser. The one constant in all of my varied experiences was (and is) the power of community.
People coming together to build community and communities coming together to build people.
I want to use my academic skills and life experience to add reasoned perspective to help build our community. My journalistic and scientific training has taught me to make decisions based on facts, my lived experience has taught me about how others can be impacted by those decisions.
I am forever indebted to the people in Kamloops for their support and belief in me. Now it’s time for me to be of service to you and give back to the people and community who gave me so much.
I encourage you to reach out to me via email or any one of my social media channels (links below), I’d be delighted to hear from you!