Trustee who is a wit that knits has coffee with the Alberni Valley News

It's been a rollercoaster ride for School District 70 trustee Rosemarie Buchanan since she arrived in Port Alberni in 1979.

School District 70 trustee Rosemarie Buchanan has a story to tell about how she's stitched her life together since arriving in Port Alberni in 1979.

The education you receive at home can often be as beneficial as the one you receive at school.

Local resident and School District 70 trustee Rosemarie Buchanan says that she learned as much from her parents as she did from teachers.

“My parents were both active with their unions and with the New Democratic Party in Alberta,” the 56-year-old mother of one son said.

“The conversations around the dinner table were never boring.”

Buchanan and her two younger sisters were born and raised in Lethbridge, Alta.

She attended Lethbridge Collegiate Institute, graduating in 1973.

Reading and writing were her favourite subjects in school, and her favourite teacher was Grade 8 homeroom teacher Sid Salter.

“He was a teacher who just had this way about him that made students love being in his class,” Buchanan said.

Buchanan’s parents were both active in Alberta’s labour movement.

Her father was a correctional officer and her mother was one of the first women elected to the executive of CUPE in Alberta.

“She wasn’t just elected to be the recording secretary, which was often where women were relegated to,” Buchanan said.

But the couple was also active politically with the New Democratic Party, often billeting the leader of the party when he visited Lethbridge.

After graduation Buchanan held a series of jobs including lifeguard and steno-pool worker.

In 1979 she dipped her toe in the political waters by working on both federal and provincial NDP campaigns.

That same year, Buchanan arrived in Port Alberni with her son in their 1966 Plymouth Valiant.

“Driving down into the Valley I felt a sense of home that I never felt even in Lethbridge,” she said.

At the urging of a friend, Buchanan, then 25, ran in a school district trustee by-election in 1980 – and won.

She won the seat again in 1981 but lost in 1983.

She started working with the Port Alberni Community Association for Community Living, a career that she continues with.

She ran for school board again, and served as a trustee throughout the 1990s.

Buchanan left civic service and the Valley to live in the United States, but returned to the Valley and trusteeship in 2008.

Civic service is beneficial to those you serve but also has intrinsic value as well, she says.

“It helps a person understand their community better and is an amazing education,” Buchanan said.

While being a public official has its intangible rewards it also has its challenges.

Buchanan had her vehicle vandalized and spent the money for her son’s birthday repairing the damage.

She knits as a pastime, and first learned to do so after she became a mother and had time to spare.

She’s currently reading The Friday Night Knitting Club and is a fan of 1970s and 1980s music with a splash of blues mixed in.

And if she could visit any other time it would be her childhood.

“I’d like to be a kid again and visit the house our family lived in,” Buchanan said.

“We never had a lot of money but we did have a lot of fun and love.”

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

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