Federal Election 2015  

Wood: A sense of duty

Castanet is featuring profiles on all the Okanagan candidates in the upcoming federal election

Angelique Wood, NDP – Central Okanagan - Similkameen - Nicola

Angelique Wood got her first taste of the effect politics can have in 2006 when she was part of a group that lobbied the provincial government to prevent a coal power plant from being built near Princeton.

“It was really empowering,” she said. “I think that kind of gave me the appetite for more.”

And more was what she found.

In 2011, she was elected to the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen board, a position she held until 2014.

After that, she became co-ordinator of the Okanagan Similkameen Healthy Living Coalition, a partnership among regional governments with an interest in creating healthy communities.

Wood says she has always had an interest in fostering healthy communities, and her foray into federal politics reflects that. She has said during all candidates' forums her No. 1 priority is health care.

Born in Chilliwack, Wood grew up with trees, lakes and rivers just outside her door.

“I’m a tomboy. I was a kid who played out in the woods, and we were basically told 'go outside, and come back when it’s dark,'” Wood said. “That freedom to explore … that opportunity to nurture my imagination, I think that’s really important for creativity and problem solving because you’re not really regulated into a determined box of solutions.”

Wood’s mother was a teacher and her father was a plumber and electrician. Her younger brother died when he was three years old, so Wood was effectively raised as an only child. In addition, her father left the family when she was 12.

“My single mom, life was not easy for her,” Wood said.  “We had to really struggle to make ends meet and I appreciate it more now.”

Wood said her mother’s fighting spirit rubbed off on her.

“I had a Grade 5 teacher who found me quite difficult,” she said. “He later, because he was a teacher, was at a dinner with my mother … and they had a fight about something. He said to her: ‘Now I see where she gets it from.’”

Wood graduated from the Emily Carr Insistute of Art and Design with a fine arts degree in 1995. She went on to work at an art gallery in Vancouver, followed by the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia.

“One of the things the Inuit Gallery really taught me about was small business,” she said. “Operating from a perspective where we were working with really high-end, very expensive artwork and dealing with international clientele.”

After 20 years of living in the “crush” of Vancouver, she wanted to get back to her rural roots, and spent the next four years travelling B.C. on her weekends to find a place she could call home. That place was Hedley.

“When I got to the Similikameen I felt like my laundry list of needs was met,” Wood said. “I found a dry climate, a scenically beautiful area, a place with a really interesting First Nations history … and I wanted a place where I might know my neighbours, be able to borrow a cup of sugar.”

One of the things she is most of proud of from her time on the regional district is the part she played in a protocol agreement with the Okanagan Nation Alliance, which she said sets out the rules on how the different governments interact.

“When I was a kid, I remember saying to my dad: ‘How come the Indians are always protesting?” Wood said. “My dad just said to me: ‘If you were forced to live on the outskirts of an area, by the garbage dumps and the sewage treatment plants, how do you think you would feel? What would you do?’”

After Alex Atamanenko announced his retirement in the old Southern Interior riding, he approached Wood and asked her to run. She was hesitant at first, but realized she needed to do it.

“Having my MP actually ask me to take up his job is a huge honour and a bit of a responsibility, too,” she said. “It’s a sense of having to do this to save what we have. That’s why I’m doing it.”

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