KAMLOOPS - Barb Nederpel's idea of her "dream retirement job" is baking extravagant cakes - a far cry from her years-long career in health care.
But before she can think about retirement, Nederpel is focusing on her first political run as the NDP candidate for Kamloops-North Thompson, but it's a decision that didn't come easy for her.
"Shortly after 2013 I started being approached by people and I thought about it for a long time," Nederpel says. "It was a decision that I took very, very seriously and I didn’t enter into it lightly. But once I was committed I was all in."
Nederpel grew up in a small Interior hydro community called Seton Portage. Her father worked for B.C. Hydro while her mother stayed at home to care for Nederpel and her two brothers. She's now lived in Kamloops for 20 years.
"My dad was very strong on social justice and a labour activist, so we just had that sort of upbringing that we just wanted to make sure we looked out for each other, looked out for the people in the community."
Nederpel was a single mom raising her daughter who's now 22 years old, so she didn't end up going to school for nursing until she was in her 30s.
"I was really excited when I was an adult and my daughter was old enough," Nederpel says. "When I had my feet on the ground, finally as a single parent, I was able to go back to school and fulfill that dream."
A severely asthmatic child, Nederpel grew up around nurses and knew that was the career path she wanted to take. It wasn't long into the now 46-year-old's career that she began advocating for better resources for health workers and became a part of the Hospital Employees' Union, and now sits as vice president.
Taking that position led her to become president of the Kamloops and District Labour Council.
"The one thing about labour is when you start getting involved you get pulled in pretty fast," she says.
Although Nederpel has achieved many of her goals in her career, she says her greatest accomplishment in life has been her daughter.
"I’d have to say my punkin," Nederpel says with tears welling in her eyes. "My daughter is 22 years old and she’s brilliant, she’s successful, she’s exactly everything I wish I could have been at that age and I’m so proud of her. She’s my greatest accomplishment."
Nederpel says her husband, daughter and step daughter have been her biggest fans throughout her first political run. While she's taken time away from her career, her husband went back to work from retirement to help financially.
"He’s been off working so that he can keep the family afloat, but also to pay for things like flyers and that sort of thing," she says. "He's always been supportive and he’s... the person probably the most that pushed me to say finally yes. Because without his continued support I wouldn’t be able to do this."
Although Nederpel knows the lengthy and hard work that comes with being a provincial politician, she's ready to take the seat that's been held by the B.C. Liberals since 1996 when Kevin Krueger unseated NDP MLA Frederick Jackson.
Working in health care for years has led Nederpel to make it one of her top priorities in this election campaign. She calls the NDP's platform the "light at the end of the tunnel," with one of her biggest focuses for the Kamloops-North Thompson being the doctor shortage.
"This isn’t a problem that’s exclusive to Kamloops, it’s certainly not even exclusive to B.C.," she says. "This is a nationwide issue."
She says many of the issues surrounding the family doctor shortage in Kamloops can be solved by reallocating existing resources.
Nederpel is focusing on taking her campaign day by day, starting early and finishing late.
"I thought I was busy before... I worked full time, had a family – have a family. I’m vaguely aware that there’s other people in my house sometimes," Nederpel laughs. "It’s busy and every single day is like this but it’s energizing. You start feeling that momentum and you meet people... You feel like there’s a potential that you can make life better for people and it’s incredibly energizing."
She may be busy now, but Nederpel already has her dream retirement job picked out. When asked about something people didn't know about her, Nederpel said she can seriously decorate cakes.
"I can bake and decorate cakes and I’ve never had any training whatsoever, it’s just one of those things," she says. "I could sit down with some fondant and bake some pretty crazy awesome cakes actually."
If you're thinking about the extravagant cakes you've seen on the Food Network, you're on the right track.
"I did a shoe, I did a Death Star one time for John Horgan, even though he’s a Star Trek fan I made him a Star Wars cake," she says. "It is my life long dream, that’s going to be my retirement job."
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