I was born and raised in Powell River, BC in the beautiful traditional territory of the ɬəʔamen people whose ancestors have stewarded these lands since time immemorial. I was blessed to be raised by amazing parents, Tom and Myrna Leishman and have a younger brother Tye. I spent my childhood figure skating, dancing and summers were spent up the lake at the family cabin.
I discovered a love of dance and acting as a teen and began auditioning for shows at a young age. I left town the day after high school graduation to dance in an Opera with the famed Teatro alla Scala Opera Company from Milan, Italy at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver for an entire month run of performances. Performing professionally opened my eyes to a new chapter which led to attending a performing arts theatre school in Pasadena California called the American Academy of Dramatic Arts where I spent an incredible few years in an invite-only diploma program alongside some really talented performers, some of whom have became famous actors. Drama school is where I belonged! It led into acting in film, TV and theatre productions and eventually into directing, producing, writing & performing in many plays and musicals in Vancouver & Powell River including popular shows such as "Hair" with Theatre Under The Stars in Stanley Park; "Once Upon a Mattress"; "The Sound of Music"; and "Chicago" to name a few favorites.
Art, music, language and creativity are what fills my soul.
In my 20's, I spent several years living on a sailboat exploring & living in and around different parts of the BC Coast with my adventure kitty Cleo
I have worn many hats in my life and have held many different jobs like professional figure skating coach; dance teacher; working in the pulp & paper mill; harbour wharfinger; different receptionist jobs; sales associate in an art gallery; and running a scallop dive boat to name a few.
One day I realized that I really wanted to learn how to use power tools and build stuff and so I began working in the construction industry. I started out at the ground level as a labourer and first aid attendant, moved up to apprentice carpenter and then I attained an Architectural Drafting & Design Certificate, and have now spent the last 20 years as an architectural designer and project manager designing and building all kinds of construction projects in Powell River and the surrounding region.
In 2006 I became certified as a BUILT GREEN® builder and have focused on building more energy efficient homes and using more sustainable materials. I am a geek for education so I am always taking courses to learn the latest techniques and changes to industry standards as well as any other courses that seem interesting. Providing affordable housing is a priority to me. Working with the Board of Powell River Sunset Homes Society to build attainable housing for seniors has been something my mother championed for decades and I am continuing on with that work. As Project Manager, I have just completed the construction of 34 units of rental housing with a mix of subsidized and market rentals for seniors 55 and over. We achieved a 39% reduction in energy use and ghg emissions from the NECB standards and have installed a pv solar array on the roof. I have just been elected President of the Board upon completion of the project in fall 2022.
Before getting involved in local politics as an elected official, I spent many years raising awareness about excessive waste and the overuse of disposable plastic products through a local environmental society I helped establish with some other women. I also became very involved in a campaign to stop the massive increases to the transshipment of thermal coal from the Powder River Basin in the US through BC ports.
I have been very privileged to be able to use my skills in event organizing for our local community. I was the artistic director for the 2010 Olympic Torch Relay Celebration for Powell River and the Opening Ceremonies Director & Special Events Coordinator for the 2007 BC Disability Games. I was also a Coordinator and Chair of several disciplines when Powell River hosted the BC Festival of the Arts in 1997. I was involved in coordinating the visual arts juried show, the performing arts categories, the jazz competition categories as well as a live concert to kick things off featuring Powell River's own famous jazz musician Don Thompson and his trio. I have also been a dance coach and choreographer through the years and love teaching kids, youth & adults.
In 2016, I was the director of the Opening & Closing Ceremonies for Kathaumixw Choral Festival and was grateful to travel to Hong Kong in 2017 accompanying the Choral Festival team to deliver the totem to the winning choir.
2010 Torch Relay Celebration Photos by Robert Colasanto
Something that has been very important to me has been working to end violence against women and children. Through Eve Ensler's global foundation VDAY, I have produced, directed and performed "The Vagina Monologues" numerous times over the years with some amazing local women performers raising money for VDAY and the Powell River Transition House Society.
We also added Powell River to the global map for the day of action "ONE BILLION RISING" in 2013 which was touted as "The Biggest Mass Global Action To End Violence Against Women & Girls In The History Of Humankind."
I have been honoured to have been elected as a City Councillor in the City of Powell River for two terms (2014 to 2022). My main focuses while elected were Climate Change Mitigation & Adaptation solutions; strategies for reducing our garbage that is sent to landfill; reconciliation with Indigenous peoples; more responsible development; social action & planning; arts, culture & heritage; youth engagement and making our community a more livable, resilient city.
I served two terms as one of the Municipal Directors appointed to the qathet Regional District Board and served as Chair of the Powell River Regional Hospital District Board for four years. I was Chair of the Climate Change Mitigation & Adaptation Committee and one of the Youth Council mentors.
Photo by Robert Colasanto
I believe building community is one of the most important things we can do and that we all play a part in setting that community up for success.
Whether it's a town, a neighborhood, a theatre community, a group of likeminded youth, a building full of seniors, a group of middle-aged women who transform into cabaret performers for kicks or a roller derby team; building a healthy, vibrant, and thriving community is what I am compelled to do and want to continue doing in many different ways, well into the future.