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So what has prepared her for this uphill battle?
“Everything. I seem to be in a relentless underdog story.”
The mother of three children and two step-children,Furstenau, 50, said she was drawn to politics by a sincere hope in a better future.
Her first foray came in 2014, when she ran for local government as part of her fight for clean drinking water in Shawnigan Lake, north of Victoria. For years she wrote letters, attended hearings and organized rallies against a provincial permit that allowed a company to store contaminated soil in the watershed.
“I was told every step of the way this was an unwinnable fight,” said Furstenau, who relaxes by knitting dolls in the likeness of people she loves or admires.
The permit was cancelled in 2017.
She won the leadership even as former leader Andrew Weaver told the Vancouver Sun he was advising her two competitors.
“The former leader was clearly working to not have me succeed in that role and I succeeded,” she said.
Weaver told the Vancouver Sun newspaper that Furstenau didn’t think she needed advice, but if she asked he would be happy to provide it.
Furstenau also overcame obstacles early in life, she said.
She was raised by a single mother in subsidized housing in Edmonton, and benefited from an experimental early childhood education program that meant she entered Grade 1 knowing how to read and write.
In the 1990s, she became a single mother too. But she could go to the University of Victoria because a tuition freeze meant she could afford it, and there was childcare for her young son, she said.