She was able to leave high school with more than a diploma.
“(My husband) Bob and I are high school sweethearts,” she said. “I first laid my eyes on him when he had an exhibit in the science fair which was at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre, which was called the Peach Bowl at the time.”
Adulthood was off to a quick start for Denesiuk. After graduating in 1976, she and Bob were married in 1977, and had their first child in 1979. The following year in 1980, the couple founded their own business — R Denesiuk Construction, and it’s still going strong.
Now after 38 years of marriage, the Denesiuks have four grown children and three grandchildren.
And amid the balance of parenthood and the family business, Denesiuk began serving on the school board in 1992, and later leaped from that role into provincial and federal positions, becoming the president of the B.C. School Trustees Association and served for three years.
“That position allowed me to travel through the province, and I got a much better understanding of many communities in B.C.”
Her next role was with the Canadian School Board Association where she served as a director for another three years. If she’s elected in October, it won’t be the first time she’s made a difference in Ottawa.
“As a director on the Canadian School Board Association, I went to the parliament buildings to lobby MPs to make changes in legislation in order to better meet the needs of students.”
She continues to lend a hand in education through her role as a member of the Board of Governors at Okanagan College.
While serving both the private and public interests of the South Okanagan — and before deciding to enter federal politics — Denesiuk kept an open mind while carefully reviewing the platforms of each national party.
“It became very clear to me that the party that matches my values is the federal Liberal Party — creating policies that are based on sound evidence is critical to me.”
She said that sense of pragmatism is what kept her business afloat for 35 years.
“We’ve seen difficult times in business and we’ve seen better times, but what’s most important is having good business sense, and beyond that is knowing when it’s time to invest.”
Much like the promise made by Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau to spend $125 billion in new infrastructure over the next 10 years if they win, Denesiuk believes capital investment to be a crucial part of progression.
“It was tough deciding to invest in equipment when we were going through leaner times, but that equipment helped us to actually weather through the financial storm. And that is exactly what the Liberals are going to do, we’re in a recession right now, we need to jumpstart our economy. One way of doing that is by investing in infrastructure.”
Denesiuk said more federal incentives should be in place to encourage Canadians to build green, and on a larger scale.
“We know there have been programs in the past; rebates for certain appliances or windows – but I’m taking about bigger, cutting-edge technologies.”
Although R. Denesiuk Construction offers many ecologically-friendly solutions, Denesiuk said many customers have had to pass on certain initiatives because adequate incentives were not in place. She feels that Canadians have become more divided over the past 10 years, and said a politically-balanced approach is what’s needed.
“The Liberal Party is not right and it’s not left — it brings people together.”
When Denesiuk’s not busy, which is very rare during an election campaign, she and her husband are avid outdoors people and they especially love kayaking. Denesiuk also enjoys spending time with her sister who lives in Okanagan Falls.