Editor’s note: This is the final part in a series of profiles of the candidates for Boundary-Similkameen MLA.
Raised in a military family, and a UN Peacekeeper at one time himself, the Green party candidate for the Boundary-Similkameen has experienced varied cultures throughout his life.
It was the one he found in the South Okanagan he fell in love with. John Kwasnica has been a resident of Oliver for 25 years and a longtime Community Living worker.
While living in Vancouver with his wife Angela, a visit with his parents at their orchard in Oliver prompted the couple to leave the hustle and bustle of the big city for a quieter life to raise their four children.
“We thought why are we living in busy Vancouver when we could be living in this beautiful place. We decided to relocate and we never looked back,” said Kwasnica.
If his face seems familiar to theatre-buffs in the South Okanagan, it is because in his spare time he has performed with the South Okanagan Players and Actors in many productions.
Kwasnica quickly became integrated into the community, helping the crew of volunteers who built the bike path around Oliver. He also was a volunteer firefighter for four years, but because of a conflict with his work schedule he had to put that aside for now.
A former supporter of the NDP, Kwasnica said he became acquainted with their party policies through his work with unions.
“I began to see I was disillusioned with the NDP. Of course, they were in power at that time, and with all the things that were going on with the fast ferries and everything else I became disgruntled and decided to seek a different philosophy, which brought me to the Green party,” he said.
Kwasnica said the decision to put his hat in the ring this election was simple after supporting the party in the past three elections.
“It’s a case of no one in B.C. seems to be very happy with the present political party in power and people remember when the NDP were in and they are not sure whether they really want them back again,” said Kwasnica.
“I thought maybe we could build a bigger base for the Green party to get their platform out there.”
The Green party candidate said it seems the smaller towns want more industry, and he believes his party can provide an opening for that with ecological technology like geo-thermal and wind-power industries.
Kwasnica joined the Canadian Forces out of high school, following in his father’s footsteps, who was in the Air Force for 28 years, by working as a UN Peacekeeper for about five years.
He was assigned to transport supplies across the Gaza Strip following the Arab-Israeli War of 1973.
“You begin to appreciate life and the way it is treated here in North America. Life is kind of cheap over there, and it is unfortunate that is the way it is and always has been,” said Kwasnica.
“I think that formed me as the person I am today. It informed me and helped me mature.”