To say independent candidate Sean Upshaw’s life has been challenging would be an understatement, but it’s been hurdling those challenges that has made him who he is.
Upshaw was born in Edmonton, Alta. as the youngest of five children. He said his parents divorced when he was just three years old and he ended up in foster homes and between parents. At the age of 18, Upshaw said he nearly died when he was stung by over 60 wasps after stepping on a yellow jackets nest. Wasps swarmed him and he went into anaphylactic shock.
“It was transformational and made me look at what I was doing and where I was going. It was a realignment of my values, and from that point forward it was a catalyst in what I found important,” said Upshaw. “It helped define me. There has been other moments that have defined me, but it certainly was a contributing factor. You start to realize I’ve got one life to live and I’ve got to live it right.”
At the age of 10, Upshaw said he shook Peter Lougheed’s hand, who was the premier of Alberta at that time, at a rally in Camrose and it drew his attention to the personal side of politics.
“He looked like he had real care and genuine concern for people. Politics to me has never been about position, it’s never been about policy so to speak, or about power. It has more been about people,” said Upshaw.
That meeting sparked his interest in politics, and with his life experiences he found his philosophy was congruent to that of the Conservative Party. He hoped to win the Conservative Party nomination for the Okanagan Coquihalla riding and has previously suggested the nomination process was fixed in favour of riding association insiders. Still, he believes in the founding principles of the party and that is why he runs his own campaign as an independent conservative.
“A true conservative is a conservative to the heart. It is a part of their person. I will die conservative,” said Upshaw, who added after he lost the nomination he was approached by two parties who asked him to jump ship and run under their banner.
Putting his family first is something Upshaw cited as one of the reasons he delayed jumping into politics for so long. Although he has had a long interest in following politics on all levels.
“I find politics fascinating because it proves that one person can make a difference,” said Upshaw.
The independent conservative candidate has been married to Heather Upshaw for 26 years and he has three children. His youngest son and his daughter work side-by-side with him in real estate. For the past five years they have been known as Team Upshaw at Re/Max Kelowna.
When he finds spare time he spends it with his family, or you might find him out cruising in his 1965 Pontiac Parisienne or his 1966 Buick LeSabre.
“I spend a lot of my downtime with my wife, she is my best friend,” said Upshaw. “My family is very important to me. I would give everything up for them, and the reality is they know where I am at in my life now and they are 100 per cent behind me. My family is a huge part of my life and always will be.”