Olivia Chow coming to Vancouver to talk about new memoir

Olivia Chow—Member of Parliament, seasoned politician and widow of former New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton—has added published author to her list of accomplishments. Chow has written a memoir called My Journey (HarperCollinsCanada Ltd, January 21, 2014), which tells the story of her journey from immigrant to successful politician and activist, chronicling her turbulent childhood, her rise through municipal politics and her storied political and life partnership with her soul mate, Jack Layton.

My Journey is a story of challenge and loss, a candid look at what drives Olivia Chow. How did she emerge from a difficult adolescence to become an inspiring political force? What influences and events have shaped her life? And how is she continuing her quest after losing her partner in life and politics?

When she was thirteen, Chow’s middle-class family moved from Hong Kong to Toronto. The transition was a difficult one. Her father was unable to make a living in Canada, and frustrated and bitter, he became violent towards Olivia’s mother, and their lives were darkened by this violence. Chow channeled her curiosity and determined energy into school, where she excelled. She studied fine art and philosophy at university, and after graduation worked as a sculptor. Driven by a desire to achieve social change, she became an activist, and launched her political career.

As a popular and much-admired school trustee and Toronto city councillor—the first Asian woman in that role—Chow honed a grassroots approach and crafted progressive programs that enhanced the lives of others, especially children. Strong-willed, focused and passionate, Chow got things done by bringing together people from all parts of the political spectrum.

Then, in the mid-1980s, Chow met Jack Layton. Their dynamic partnership, unprecedented in Canadian political life, made a powerful impact in Toronto, and on the national stage. Together, they forged a strong vision for a better country and for enlightened political change.      

Olivia Chow will talk with journalist Kathryn Gretsinger about her memoir in a Vancouver Writers Fest event at Performance Works on Granville Island on February 7. Information at www.writersfest.bc.ca.

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