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New West educator explores her pioneer roots in a new memoir

What's happening Around Town
June Harrison Contributed
New Westminster resident June Harrison has written a memoir about her "pioneer" upbringing and its impact on her life. Contributed

A longtime local educator has penned a memoir about her pioneer life in B.C. – and its impacts on her career and her life.

June Harrison, who served as principal at three local schools until her retirement in 1999, recently completed and published Finding Home: The Values of a Pioneer Family in North Central B.C. While she’d been planning this project since 2010, she said she was spurred on by the diagnosis of stage 4 metastatic breast cancer in 2015.

Harrison, who is known to some locals as June Gilgan, said one of the reasons for the project was to record her experiences of her pioneer lifestyle in north central B.C., where both sets of her grandparents were original European settlers at the early part of the last century.

Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers, helped Harrison develop a framework for her memoir. She highlights a quote of significance from his book: “The culture we belong to and the legacies passed down by our forebears shape the patterns of achievement that we cannot begin to imagine.”

“I profile my grandparents, aunts and uncles and many cousins to explore the values they passed on to me through their activities and adventures of their lives,” she explains.

By exploring her family’s values, Harrison hopes to help her young grandsons understand their heritage and shared values. Through the book she also wanted to reflect on how those values and experiences contributed to her successful administrative career in New Westminster. 

Since the launch of Finding Home in her hometown of Burns Lake in August, the New West resident has enjoyed hearing feedback from readers.

“I have good reviews from ‘I really enjoyed your stories’ to ‘I cried at reading of my Grandpa Bill’s adventures!’ to ‘I couldn’t put it down and read it one session,’” she said in an email to the Record.

Finding Home: The Values of a Pioneer Family in North Central B.C. is $18 and is available at Renaissance Books, 712b 12th St. or by contacting Harrison at juneharrison@shaw.ca.