Yesterday, former B.C. Cabinet Minister Sindi Hawkins died of leukemia.

For almost a year, I was Sindi’s Ministerial Assistant (Chief of Staff) when she was Minister of Health Planning. There’s much I could say about her personal accomplishments, her life as a politician, her community activism and her dedication to public service. Much of her life in this respect is in the public record.

I hope I can add something a little more personal.

While Sindi enjoyed the cut and thrust of debate and toiling in policy and legislation where she could bring her experiences as a nurse and a lawyer to bear, there were times when Sindi seemed put off by the occasional drudgery of cabinet life, like it was keeping her from spending more time with her constituents in Kelowna. Indeed, around her colleagues and constituents she was warm, always laughing. She genuinely loved being around people, regardless of political stripe.

Sindi also had a sense of mission and of justice. She was one of those politicians who entered civic life, not to acquire authority or build up vast networks of people in power, but because she wanted to make life better for British Columbians.

Sindi would have ribbed me for switching my political allegiance, but she would never have treated me differently. She was a magnificent woman, and sometimes an infuriatingly stubborn person, who was passionate and compassionate.

The last time I spoke with Sindi was in 2004 — shortly after my cancer diagnosis. While my melanoma was not in the same ballpark as Sindi’s cancer, I was worried about my pending surgery and wondered what, at age 29, I had done to contract cancer at a relatively young age. She was soothing and reassuring. We didn’t get into “victim” talk or speak of cancer as being a “battle.” Cancer was something we’d get through, and then we’d share a drink and have a laugh and leave this terrible affliction behind.

I lament losing touch with her. I miss that vivacious personality. That person who found the world a fascinating place and was just happy to be here.

Sindi had a large immediate and extended family. My thoughts are with them and with those whose lives she touched.

Eric Mang

Eric Mang

Eric Mang served as a political aide in the Harris government in Ontario and the Campbell government in British Columbia. His politics have since shifted left. He works full-time in health policy, part-time...