Cowichan-Malahat-Langford: Overcoming loss on the road to Ottawa, tragedy moulded Conservative candidate

Born and raised on the Prairies, Shari Lukens, grew up in the wheat fields of Alberta. When she wasn’t working the golden fields on the family’s grain farm, she spent her time carving her own path on the ice. She even landed a spot at the prestigious Mariposa School of Skating.

“My goal was to be world champion and that’s what I was training for,” Lukens said. But at 16, her skating dreams were ended by a drunk driver.

While she could no longer compete professionally, her passion led her to coaching, and eventually Denmark, where she not only taught other skaters but was also asked to teach power skating to the Danish men’s national hockey team.

“The Canadian-Danish Hockey team I used to call them.” She laughed, at the time their roster including a large number of other Canadians.

After returning to Canada, Lukens shifted careers, while continuing to teach skating on the side, her focus was now in broadcast journalism.

“I’d always wanted to do broadcasting,” she said. After training in B.C. her career led her across the province and back to the Prairies.

It was while working on an award winning documentary that Lukens was set up on a blind date with the man that would eventually become her husband.

“We were married eight months to the day later,” she said. The couple lived on the mainland for a while but in 2005, they could no longer resist the draw of the Island. Her husband was originally from the Duncan area, so the Cowichan Valley seemed like a perfect fit.

“We were avid fishermen so it was fabulous.”

But their Island life together was short-lived. In 2006, Lukens’ husband was killed in a helicopter crash.

“It really takes the wind out of your sails,” she sighed. Her father had been a pilot and she knew the risks of the profession, they had even talked about it being a possibility but she said you never imagine something like that ever happening.

It was a dark time, one that was made worse by court proceedings five years later. Although she did not initiate them, she was still forced to go through the discovery process and relive those horrific events. It pushed her into a deep place and she was diagnosed with PDST. She attributes her ability to move forward to her support team and network. And at the time the Conservative party was bringing in a victim’s rights bill, which really resonated with her.

“In my heart I knew what he wanted.”

So in 2009, “I decided I needed to take care of Shari,” she said.

In August of that year she moved to Colwood, a place that had years before left her awestruck by its beauty. She had told herself that “If I ever get the opportunity to move down here I would.”

That love of the West Shore drew her into the area and she became highly engaged in its communities, eventually running for Colwood City council in 2011 and serving until 2014.

But tragedy struck again and just as she was preparing to run for another term her mother was diagnosed with cancer. She was forced to make what she refers to as a “life choice” and not knowing what kind of treatment her mother would need, she decided not to run. She said she didn’t want any absences caused by her taking care of her mother in Alberta to force a by-election and cost tax payers more money.

Now, she is onto what she calls “plan B” and has put her travel plans on hold with the hopes of representing her electoral riding in Ottawa.

When she’s not out campaigning she’s at home with her 11-year-old English springer spaniel named Maestro.

“He’s Mr. Personality,” she said of her beloved dog, who originally belonged to her husband and is her “last real connection” with him.

While she doesn’t get out on the ice as much as she’d like to in more recent years she still holds onto her skates. She said getting out on the ice, “that’s where I really feel freedom and passion.” She said skating has taught her to get back up when you fall.