I believe that if we worked together, we could leverage the strengths of urban and rural.  We could create a diversified economy that was robust in creativity and provided the work, life balance that is so desperately wanted.

Tell us about your work in your community

Currently I am serving as a second term Councillor for the District of Clearwater and a first term School Board Trustee for School District 73.  I serve as President for the Southern Interior Local Government Association and am engaged in a number of local community initiatives and projects.  I have sat as Chair of the Economic Development Committee for Clearwater and as the Chair for the Education Committee for SD73.  I have a long list of volunteer contributions.  Additionally, I work full time as Managing Director for Original Holidays which is an international inbound tour operator.

Tell us a story about a time you brought people together to improve your community.

Last December, I helped organize the First Annual Clearwater Community Christmas Dinner.  It was held on December 24th at a local hall.  The dinner was open to anyone who wanted to be a part of a community for the Christmas season recognizing that we have a number of vulnerable community members, single men and elderly people who find travelling to family stressful in the winter.  The evening was also intended to encourage new families to the community to feel a part of a community.  With a volunteer committee, we offered turkey and all the fixings plus Christmas carols, a visit from Santa and everyone left with a Christmas stocking filled with wool socks, chocolates and more.  160 people sang with joy and celebrated being part of community on an evening that can be very stressful and lonely.

What problems are you trying to solve?

In my community, I would like to enhance youth and adult education with special focus on literacy.  With the Kinder Morgan Pipeline coming through, we recognize a huge influx of transient workers who will call our community home and we need to ensure a positive environment with a diversity of extracurricular activity that will sustain a healthy community tone.  We have had a number of new families move to the community which requires new ways of blending social energy.  I will continue to pledge commitment to building social capital in our valley and expanding educational opportunities for youth.

What do you need to learn how to do in order to solve those problems?

I need to learn how to access programs that are available in larger centers and bring them to our area.  I need to encourage community leaders to take a role in the lives of youth and I need post secondary institutions to have more meaningful influence in our youth.  I helped develop the UNBC Roadshow that has been a massive success to northern communities.  Essentially, we brought health care students (doctors to lab assistants to nurses) to secondary schools and showed rural kids what was possible for careers.  I need expanded networks of passionate people who see the value of urban and rural working together.

What are the most powerful questions you need to ask right now?

How can we help our youth be prepared for tomorrow?  How can we help our seniors age at home?  How can our community transition from a resource based economy to something with longer term sustainability?  With decreasing enrollment, how can we provide excellent educational opportunities for our youth along with a diverse exposure to arts and culture?  How do we make our community attractive to new professionals and businesses?  How do we tap into the home based business world and create strong community connections?

If we all worked together, what do you imagine that we could achieve in the next five to ten years?

I believe that if we worked together, we could leverage the strengths of urban and rural.  We could create a diversified economy that was robust in creativity and provided the work, life balance that is so desperately wanted.  What if small school populations was an opportunity for innovative education?  What if teachers became mentors and guide educational discussions and help students access on-line lectures from international academies?  By joining forces, rural communities could help provide long term solutions to food security and the land base could be a cost effective way to address an aging population.  What if rural communities could become learning hubs or centres of innovation, technology and science?  The concept of centralization has depleted rural communities but through networks and technology, new bridges can be built.  Rural communities could become learning environments for the resource sectors looking to transition; outreach stations with hands on learning.  For example Thompson Rivers University has an Outdoor Research Centre up by Wells Gray Park (near Clearwater), how can Wells Gray play a more prominent role in understanding climate change and animal habitat as well as learning more about fuel management techniques.  There is much that can be learned from the rural communities but it will take strong partnerships and bold leaders.