Standing up for what you believe in: Chris George 1963-2020 | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Standing up for what you believe in: Chris George 1963-2020

Image Credit: FACEBOOK:Chris George
June 17, 2020 - 8:00 PM

Chris George was known to those who loved him as a man with a huge heart, and a person who cared about every living thing and a man of principle.

"I just think we should all be so fortunate as to look at the world the way that Chris did," his partner Samara Sonmor told iNFOnews.ca. "He always had hope, he always felt that people could change."

Aged 56, Chris George passed away on June 10 from cancer.

Well known in the North Okanagan and Shuswap after he ran unsuccessfully for both the provincial and federal Green Party, George was a committed environmentalist, longtime businessman, husband, and father of four.

When iNFOnews.ca pitched questions to see whether the candidates running in the 2015 federal election had their own independent views or would just toe the party line, North Okanagan-Shuswap Green candidate George did what none of his competition would. He was open, upfront, and not afraid to speak his mind.

"Chris George is an example of what we look for in candidates," this news organization declared. "(He) looks to the future and avoids swipes at other candidates. His goal is not simply power, but solutions."

George had an incredible mind. He was well-read and very articulate. "He just had a very calm way of getting his point across." recalled one friend.

Former Kelowna city councillor and fellow Green Party candidate Angela Nagy said George ended up in politics in much the same way she did. He went to volunteer for the Greens and found out they needed a candidate.

"(Chris) was really dedicated and passionate about making change in his community," Nagy said.

And George was the furthest thing from a career politician.

"This was about making change," she said. "Standing up for what you believe in."

Christian Lee George was born in Trail in 1963 and spent his childhood exploring the outdoors. Sonmor said this is where he developed a life long love for the mountains and forests. From there he moved to Kamloops where he married Tanya Shore and had two children, Selene and Jade. He managed several businesses during his years in Kamloops, including his computer store Grizzly Systems. He headed to the coast spending brief periods of time in Vancouver and Oregon before returning to Kamloops after his divorce in 2004.

A year later he met Sonmor, became a step-dad, and four years later had another child, Daria. The couple bought a run-down acreage in the Shuswap in 2007.

While George is known as a passionate environmentalist, prior to buying the acreage he was living the suburban dream.

"We had the four-bedroom house and the kids and the job and the credit card debt and all of that," Sonmor said. "We were very meshed in mainstream society and the mainstream culture of capitalism."

He read and sought knowledge about climate change and fossil fuels.

"We started to change our lifestyle according to what we were learning, and what we felt was our responsibility which was to learn how to live more lightly on the planet," Sonmor said.

The couple pounded fence posts around the property by hand, tended gardens, and kept chickens and geese and grew into their new rural lifestyle.

To Sonmor's dismay, he had a fascination with planting unusual species of plants.

"He always liked learning things no-one else knew and discovering lost knowledge," she said.

The acreage was a chance to become self-sufficient.

"We quickly learnt that you're not self-sufficient, nobody is self-sufficient, you can never be self-sufficient," Sonmor said. "You can just be a part of a community."

That love of community and passion for change led George into politics.

He ran for all three levels of government. In 2013 he represented the provincial Green Party. He took home nine per cent of the vote. Not discouraged by the results, in 2015 he joined the federal election race for the Greens in the North Okanagan and Shuswap riding. This time he took home five per cent of the vote.

But George wasn't dismayed by the results.

"He believed the ideas of the Green Party were worth it," former Green Party candidate Keli Westgate said. "He understood the importance of changing the conversation and bringing up topics that maybe some of the other parties wouldn't, regardless of whether or not he could win."

Westgate said he had a very strong moral compass and could back-up his opinion with well-researched facts and put a historical perspective on issues.

"He was also somebody who could change his mind on things and openly discuss the fact he had changed his mind," she said.

During his election campaign in 2015, he surprised some by announcing he used to vote right-wing. In an interview with iNFOnews.ca he said he was drawn to the Green Party as they were the "principle of balance" between people, planet and profit.

"We can’t neglect one in favour of the others... we need a more holistic approach to have healthy and sustainable communities," he said.

Following the election, he took to writing columns for iNFOnews.ca. His aptly named editorials were titled, "Why aren't you outraged?"

His fearless, thought-provoking writing focused largely on social justice and the environment and spoke of the common ground needed to talk to each other. But they weren't all political, one was about his refound love of singing.

For the last 10 years he sang bass with a Capella choir and "found peace and comfort" in raising his voice with his choir family.

"It’s so hard to summarize an entire life," Samara says in her obituary. She instead leaves it with a line from one of George's favourite authors, Albert Camus.

"The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion."

An outdoor Celebration of Life will take place July 11, 1:00 p.m. at the family home. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Celebration of Life will be by invitation only. If you wish to attend in person, please contact Samara at samarasonmor@gmail.com.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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