Meet the CML EDA Executive

President

Joanna grew up in the Cowichan Valley, with both parents as public school teachers, so naturally the NDP has always been the party of choice. In 2004 she joined the Jean Crowder team, and since then has volunteered on many local provincial and federal campaigns. Most recently Joanna has served on the Federal Cowichan-Malahat-Langford NDP executive as member-at-large, Vice President and now President.

She is a proud union member and holds an elected Local Chair position within her Union, the BCGEU. Joanna works as an Adult Basic Education Instructor at Vancouver Island University’s Cowichan Campus.

Vice President

Devorah Fallows grew up in rural Alberta, running feral and free in the forest. She is a staunch advocate for the rights and safety of lesbians, women, and girls, and a vocal proponent of socialist values. She has worked in both provincial and federal NDP constituency offices, and on municipal campaigns.

After years of doing software development, and the birth of her child, she followed a lifelong passion: herbal medicine. She completed the 4-year course at Nelson’s Academy of Classical Oriental Sciences in 2012. She ran her own clinic in Wolfville NS plus served as Director of Standards of Practice on the board of the CMAAC-NS (Chinese Medicine & Acupuncture Assoc. of Canada), bringing professional standardization of Chinese Medicine to Nova Scotia. It was rewarding to also teach Internal Medicine at the College of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine in Halifax.

A Diploma of Social Work from Grant MacEwan University led to years as an organizer, counsellor, and community advocate. These supportive skills and training complement her current practice in Duncan, B.C., where she is proud to offer an alternative to big pharma by providing Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine to the Cowichan Valley.

Donna was born and raised in the New Democratic Party stronghold of Windsor, Ontario, where she served a term on City Council and ran once as a Provincial NDP candidate. Since moving to BC in 2014 she has served on the executive in various positions. In late 2021 she and her spouse moved to Saskatchewan, where Tommy Douglas first introduced universal medical care as Premier.

Secretary

Melissa was born and raised on South Vancouver Island, and her employment experience is broad, including working with people with disabilities at their homes and within the school system. After working in the real estate field as an assistant and realtor for several years, she moved to ICBC for 13 years as Driver Examiner. She was on the Executive Council for MoveUP (COPE378) for 7 years, then the Executive Board for 3.5yrs., and she bargained the last CA for ICBC. She’s been working in government for over a year now. She and her husband have two active boys who love sports (hockey, baseball, tennis), video games and movies.

Rick Lebitschnig grew up in Crofton and his first political memories are of Orange and black Tommy Douglas signs on his grandfather’s lawn. Rick joined the NDP in 1976 to attend the Young New Democrats Convention in New Westminster as a visitor.

Later that year, he returned to Crofton and joined the Cowichan-Malahat Provincial NDP executive as the YND rep. and later alternate Provincial Council Delegate for a short while before moving away for school and work.

Rick has been active in the NDP as an executive member and as a campaign volunteer almost continuously since joining the party, serving on various Provincial and Federal executives in Prince Rupert, Prince George, North Vancouver and Kamloops before returning to Crofton in 2006 and joining the Cowichan-Ladysmith BCNDP executive as a member at large in 2007.

Rick joined the Cowichan-Malahat-Langford EDA in 2015. During the 2021 Federal Election, Rick was a member of the data coordination team.

He looks forward to when we can gather again at both social and political events.

Member at Large

Growing up in an isolated mining town in Northeastern Manitoba, Faye’s first contact with politics as a fifteen year old was when her father took her to a CCF campaign meeting. When the local United Church minister was fired for trying to organize a union—there were mine managers on the church board, the church was on mine property—the injustice confirmed Faye in her commitment to the CCF and later the NDP as the party that would fight for the values she believes in.

Faye is a retired social worker, having spent many years working as an employee of Cowichan Tribes. Faye serves as membership co-lead on the Executive and also sits on the Executive of Cowichan Valley BC NDP.

Caelen is a lifelong Cowichan guy. Born to two union parents, Caelen has always been impacted by progressive politics. Since joining the NDP in 2017, Caelen has served in a variety of roles for both federal and provincial executives and campaign teams. Currently, Caelen sits as Youth Representative for the Cowichan-Malahat-Langford NDP and as President of the Cowichan Valley BCNDP.

Caelen is proud to contribute in his small way to the progress being made in John Horgan’s government as a researcher and Shop Steward in the BCNDP caucus.

Member at Large

Tom Harkins has been a member of the NDP since the late 1970s and is an Honourary Lifetime Member of the BC NDP. He has served on either the Federal or Provincial executives since 1987. Tom has organized the signs and sign crews for countless Federal and Provincial elections. After 40 years in the forest industry as an IWA Steelworker, Tom adopted a second career calling into CFAX 1070 radio to express his labour-oriented, blue-collar NDP views. You can find Tom gardening; spending time with Pat, his wife since 1977; or hanging out at his second home, the Cobblestone Inn.

Member at Large

Darryl has lived on Vancouver Island most of his life. Born in Victoria, he spent time as a child in Campbell River before finally ending up in the Cowichan Valley. He grew up in a family of progressives and has always held the values of the New Democratic Party close to his heart.

Darryl left home at the age of nineteen to attend the University of British Columbia where he completed a degree in Political Science. And it was while attending UBC that he became active in the Young New Democrats (YND). He was elected President of the BCYND in 1988.

Darryl took a hiatus from active involvement in politics during the 90’s and early 2000’s while raising a family and establishing his career in aviation. But, thanks to the passion and persuasion of his life partner, and current CML EDA President, Joanna, he is again involved with the Party and is looking forward to helping ensure we continue to have an NDP MP represent us in Ottawa.

Shaye was born and raised in the Cowichan Valley. Coming from a family of forestry workers, his blue-collar background never left any doubt that Shaye was NDP right from the get-go! Labour rights, True Universal Healthcare, Public Education, and Climate Change/Environmental justice are the 4 cornerstones of his drive to help the NDP improve the lives of everyone. Shaye moved to Alberta for a number of years and that’s where he got even more involved in the party, running for MLA in Leduc-Beaumont, winning, and then having the incredible opportunity and honour to be a Minister in the government of Rachel Notley. He is now a member at large for the federal riding of Cowichan Malahat Langford as well as for the provincial riding of Cowichan.

Connie More immigrated to Canada from the USA in 1970 and became a Canadian citizen as soon as she was eligible, having already begun volunteer canvassing for the BC NDP and soon thereafter for Tommy Douglas in Nanaimo. She had a 40-year career as a music educator for ages 3 through adulthood (day care centres, schools and universities), including regional, national and international roles as an organizer, conductor, editor, and clinician. An ongoing variety of NDP volunteer activities led to joining the provincial Langford Juan de Fuca Constituency Association Executive in 2019, adding the federal Cowichan Malahat Langford Member at Large role in 2021. On Facebook, she lists her occupation as “Lifetime Citizen”, and the NDP is a big part of that!

Duncan Pike is an activist and social movement trainer with a passion for supporting people who are organizing for a more just, fair, and equitable society. A Victoria native, Duncan recently moved back to Vancouver Island after a decade living in Toronto, where he served on the Davenport NDP Riding Association executive and volunteered on NDP electoral campaigns on the provincial, and federal level. As a teacher and manager with the Institute for Change Leaders in Toronto, Duncan has trained hundreds of new activists and union members on organizing and campaign strategy and tactics, public narrative, and campaign messaging. As a member of USW Local 1998, Duncan led internal mobilization efforts against Ontario’s Bill 124. A survivor of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Duncan has worked with other adolescent and young adult cancer survivors to fight for increased resources for AYA cancer care.

Gene was born and raised on a farm near Wilkie, Saskatchewan. He has been a CCF (and now NDP) supporter since age five, when he got to shake “St. Tommy’ s” hand. Upon graduation from the University of Saskatchewan in Engineering, he and his wife joined CUS0 for several years; they thereafter moved to Victoria. Most of his life’s work was at Camosun College, where he developed several training and upgrade programs (Tech Access10 to 12; Civil Tech; university transfer programs to UBC) and served as Civil Engineering Department Leader until his retirement in 1995. He led the programs through the constant battle of staying at the forefront of computer application. His last years at Camosun involved setting up a Geographic Information System (GIS) curriculum directed to First Nations development of their land resources. On the CML EDA executive, Gene hopes to contribute a variety of computer work that isn’t social media-based.

Volunteer Events Coordinator

Leanne Finlayson is totally immersed in NDP politics as a constituency assistant to Alistair McGregor, MP for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford; life partner to Doug Routley, MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan; Vice-President of the Cowichan Valley BC NDP Constituency Association; and volunteer events coordinator for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford NDP EDA.

Still, Leanne finds time for her family Matthew, Brooklynne, and Maddy; volunteering at the BC Forest Discovery Center; highland dancing; and riding her favourite horse Dixie in local dressage and jump shows.

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