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Pamela Swanigan

Independent for Delta Council


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I was born in California and came to Canada when I was 5.
I’ve been a professional writer since I was 19, though I’ve also taught university English and worked retail. Right now my main job is writing articles for a website offering advice to caregivers.

My life has kind of been like Forrest Gump's minus the heroics. I was born in Oakland, California, to a white mother and African American father, at a time when interracial marriage was still illegal in 20 states. The Black Panthers were just starting up; my mom helped them organize, and my future stepfather's dad, a District Attorney, defended Bobby Seale and others. After we moved to Berkeley and my mom met my (white) stepdad, my babysitter would take my sister and me to Golden Gate Park for all the love-ins and be-ins. I went to the March for People's Park, perched high on my stepdad's shoulders. We cowered in our bedrooms during the Berkeley student riots. The theme song to the nightly news was Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" ("You gotta stop children, what's that sound / everybody look what's going down....")

A lot of things happened to me in those first five years. Our Oakland house burned down when some people threw Molotov cocktails through the front window. We barely got out alive. I almost drowned in a swimming pool, and saved myself by grabbing someone's toe. I got hit by a car and thrown across the intersection, with my left femur broken. My sister and I got abducted by a teenaged girl who thought we looked like we had rich parents. I was allowed to watch The Blob and The Queen of Outer Space when I was WAY too young. :)

And then my mom and stepdad decided to go "back" to the land, and I was whisked away to Canada--first to Vancouver Island, in the middle of a dripping rainforest, and then the Northwest Territories, where we often had to wait for herds of buffalo to cross the road. I got to see the last remaining whooping cranes in the world (at that time), up on Slave Lake.

Finally we settled in the West Kootenays, a gajillion miles from anywhere else. There, I lived the pioneer life. I milked the cow every morning and every night. I taught the calf how to drink from a nursing bucket. We used kerosene lamps to see by, and heated our bathwater on the stove. Then THAT house burned down to the ground, too, and after that everything was just kind of strange and not nearly as Laura and Mary as it had been.

Well, let's fast forward some. I left home at 15, went out to Winnipeg at 16 (because it was as far as my $110 would take me on the train), started university. I'd been reading at post-secondary level since I was 5, so I'd been skipped around a ton in school, and I'd graduated before I left home. Then I came out to Vancouver, to be singer. I did that, but a year in, I decided I may as well also be the writer that I knew I was. So I pushed my way into writing book reviews at the Vancouver Sun, and then writing in general at the Georgia Straight, and it went from there.

By 1991, living for a stint in Toronto, I was back in Forrest Gump land again, deciding to write about the Bulls in order to hang with Michael Jordan, and actually doing it. It was a pretty cool thing. Then back to Vancouver, where I got my MA. Then 10 years of teaching university English, then a few years doing my PhD in Connecticut. I went out to Nova Scotia, as a "real estate refugee", met my husband and acquired two stepkids, discovered that there was no work of any kind in rural Nova Scotia, and eventually came back out to the West Coast.

Now I'm here, in Ladner (South Delta), and I want to make it better. My stepdad did community organizing and municipal politics out in the Kootenays, and then got elected as an MLA, and then was made a cabinet minister, and I watched him bust his hump for his constituents, and keep his integrity, and never do a thing in his own self-interest. The colleagues of his that I met were the same, including the current premier. I guess this is where I got the idea that this is what politicians are: people given to public service, who are in it for that, and to enact needed and positive change, not for any reasons of power or status or money.

So that's me. I'm a tree-hugger, I guess, but a very practical-minded, solutions-oriented one. There are lot of win-wins out there that we haven't tried for. I would love to try for some of them, on Deltans' behalf.

Reason for running

submitted by the candidate or their team
I'm running because Delta has a ton of potential that I would like to help it live up to. It could have a thriving eco-tourism economy. It could have the highest quality of living anywhere. And yes, it could have affordable housing. We need people with vision to get it there.

I’m running because I see the current council acting as if Delta were just another place. Delta isn’t just another place. Delta is one of the most ecologically important places in the world. Every single person who lives here has the awe-inspiring privilege of stewarding it.

Developers and this council tell us that if we want viable businesses and roofs over our heads, we have to pave Delta over. This is not so. If we take profiteering out of the picture, many things are possible. Affordable rental and co-op units with solar energy and living roofs. Villages with green parking lots and green infrastructure. A thriving ecotourism economy, and farms flourishing through agritourism and crop diversification. There are hundreds of exciting, workable, win-win solutions.

I’m running because I want us Deltans to be the good guys. I know we can be. Let’s make it so.