Twelve years ago, I began to spend my summer holidays at Shawnigan Lake. I’d fallen in love with a man whose family history on the lake goes back to the 1940s, and I’d soon fallen in love with the lake as well. Our children have learned to swim in the Shawnigan, often splashing amongst swarms of their cousins.
One of the biggest turning points for our family was when I was offered a job to teach at Dwight School – looking out at the lake from what was to be our kitchen balcony, I phoned Blaise and said, “I’m standing in our new home.”
We dove into our new lives, embracing the beauty of this place and getting to know the people in our community. We were captivated, and we knew very quickly that Shawnigan was to be our home. As we settled in, we became increasingly aware of a potential threat. Two years later, when SIA’s draft permit was released by the Ministry of Environment, I realized that my skills and experiences – gained through years of volunteer work and activism – would help me be an effective advocate for Shawnigan in our fight to protect our watershed.
As an advocate, I have educated my school community and organized letter-writing events that generated hundreds of heart-felt letters to the Premier and Minister of Environment. I have spoken out in the media, written articles, attended rallies, and sat through countless hours of the Environmental Appeal Board hearings, after which I would strategize with others on what our most effective next steps should be. When the Times-Colonist would not tell the contaminated soil story from the Shawnigan point of view, I phoned the editor to ask him why. He told me to write our story, and then he published it. In every interview I have given and all of the articles I have written, I reiterate one absolute truth: the people of Shawnigan will not give up on this fight.
As Area Director, I will continue to advocate for Shawnigan’s future. I will work towards long-term protection of the watershed. I will work to create localized economic development that benefits our community. I will work to ensure that our government is open, transparent, and responsive to the needs of the people of Shawnigan. And I will work above all to build a strong, forward-thinking community that brings out the best in all of us, and moves us towards a very bright and exciting future for Shawnigan.
Since deciding to run for Area Director, I have spent my days talking to as many people in Shawnigan as I can, and as a result, I feel incredibly optimistic for our future. Shawnigan is bursting with vibrant, hard-working, enthusiastic, wonderful people who are committed to creating the best possible future for our community. I am also committed to this, and I promise to put my energy into creating tangible and long-lasting results.
When Blaise and I have grandchildren, I very much look forward to seeing the fifth generation of Salmons swimming in Shawnigan Lake.