Interest in public affairs began early for councillor Kanakos

Delta councillors are a dedicated lot and like civic politicians generally, they seldom receive recognition or credit for collective decisions in creating safe and livable communities. This is the second of a series delving into private lives and civic responsibilities of Delta's elected officials.

Jeannie Kanakos' journey to Delta began on Vancouver's North Shore in a family of four. Her mother was interested in community and political affairs. As a teenager she recalls meeting Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson in 1967.

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A graduate of the public school system, she enjoyed a year's enrollment at Little Flower Academy in Vancouver. She was a good student-athlete with a passion for basketball. While enrolled at Capilano College, she was elected to the student council.

Kanakos' high level basketball skills resulted in a full scholarship to Simon Fraser University. She graduated with a history degree specializing in aboriginal land history. While at university she met future husband Nick Kanakos, SFU football and basketball star. In 1980, Jeannie and Nick moved to North Delta and raised four children.

While Nick enjoyed 35 years as a teacher in the Delta education system, Jeannie enrolled at the Justice Institute and obtained certification in aboriginal treaty negotiations. These were busy times in the Kanakos household with shared family and homemaker responsibilities. In 1988, Jeannie was employed by the Department of Indian Affairs and involved in the treaty process. She also found time and interest in Delta municipal affairs. She became aware of the community's interest in preserving and protecting Burns Bog and soon became an active member of the Burns Bog Conservation Society. Ever the busy person, she also took out a membership in the left leaning Cit-A-Del political organization centered in North Delta. Kanakos' first foray into Delta's municipal affairs was in 1999 as a candidate in a school board by-election won by well-known retired school principal Bill Kushnir. Undaunted by her setback and exhilarated by the process, Kanakos was also endorsed in 1999 by IDEA, a South Delta organization, for a seat on Delta council.

While unsuccessful, she gained confidence as her plurality increased and she recognized the need to increase her community profile. After venturing unsuccessfully into provincial politics, Kanakos was first elected in 2005 as a Delta councillor. She has since been re-elected and in 2014 she received the second most votes among council candidates.

Now with a four-year mandate, she espouses a passion for climate change, environmental issues, aboriginal affairs and "greening of transportation."

This stylish and fit grandmother of two has competed in triathlons and remains an active cyclist. As a council representative, Kanakos chairs the Delta Heritage Advisory Commission and vice chair of the Community Planning Advisory Committee, amongst her appointment to six civic committees.

Jeannie and Nick are both kept busy with their civic responsibilities and family. Jeannie seems comfortable in her role as senior councillor. Her constituents watch with interest her evolution into the role as an incisive and collaborative decision maker on Delta council.

And a good night to you, Nick. A fourth generation Ladnerite, Doug Husband is a former mayor of Delta.

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