Former South Okanagan politician pens book about her father's WWII memories, with proceeds going to student bursaries

A story of determination

Connie Denesiuk has big dreams for the success of her new book.

Denesiuk is a former Summerland school trustee and federal Liberal candidate for the South Okanagan-West Kootenay, and current chair of the Okanagan College Foundation board.

Her book, 'Til Papa Returns: Surviving as a child refugee in WWII recounts the true story of her father Alfred Columbus.

Columbus had been learning to farm the land their family had called home for 200 years, when the war broke out and he was evacuated with his mother to an unfamiliar city.

Just 10 years old at the time, he took on the role of family provider. He later emigrated to Canada.

"This is a story of courage, resiliency, determination, and – above all – hope,” Denesiuk explains in a press release.

“My sister and I grew up hearing Dad’s stories – the trials and triumphs of his young life. As Dad approached his 80s, I felt compelled to write down a collection of his remarkable stories and cobble them together. For several years, I took whatever opportunities I could to sit with Dad, ask him questions and capture his memories onto paper. Even as ALS made speech increasingly difficult for Dad, he continued to add bits of detail, chuckling as he relived his more humorous moments.”

Her book will help support a cause dear to her heart: education. She has committed to donating $10 from each book sale to student bursaries at Okanagan College.

"Accessibility to post-secondary learning is crucially important for people as they reach for their dreams,” Denesiuk said.

“This is touching on so many levels; not least that Alfred’s remarkable story will now impact newcomers to Canada who are working to improve their own lives through education,” said Helen Jackman, Okanagan College Foundation executive director.

Denesiuk's book will launch April 4 at a special event int he Community Hall of Okanagan College's Penticton campus, 4:30 - 6 p.m. Registration is required but tickets are free online here.

Copies of the book can be purchased directly through Denesiuk at [email protected].

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