In her first interview since losing her bid to keep her seat in District 3 Dartmouth South - Eastern Passage last October, former councillor Jackie Barkhouse looks back on her life then and gives us a glimpse of what she is doing now.
The Weekly News: Can you talk about the election and how it affected you?
Barkhouse: It was a challenge because of the boundary review that occurred and the resulting combination of two districts. As well, a large portion of Woodside where I had been well supported was carved out to combine with downtown Dartmouth. It was kind of an imperfect storm from start to finish, culminating with the incorrect result on election night and then the recount. I said at the time that it was an emotional roller-coaster. Almost a year later it is fair to say that was an accurate comment.
The Weekly News: Best memory of your time in office?
Barkhouse: My best memories are of the things that built our communities. Providing public access to our coastline by building the Coastal Access Park in Cow Bay. The creation of the Seaside Harvest Festival in Eastern Passage and the new Woodside Ferry that I kept in the forefront of every conversation about public transportation.
The Weekly News: What did you learn from your time in politics?
Barkhouse: That would be a long list. But, the most valuable lessons would be personal.
That my family and my health are most important. That is quite a simple statement, but very true. After the election I learned that I needed to take time, as much as necessary, to 'quiet' my life so I could find my way forward. My almost five years in politics went by very fast and it has a way of changing even the most contrary of individuals. Post politics there were decisions to be made about opportunities and direction. I removed myself from everything as much as I could at that time so that I was not influenced, and so that it was solely my choice what happened next. I had been a partner, a parent, a hardworking employee and an activist throughout my entire adult life. I had lost a parent and another was struggling with serious health issues. I was at a crossroad and I needed to ascertain what was most basic and most important to me as a person.
The Weekly News: What have you been doing since then?
Barkhouse: Even before the recount had occurred in November I was back working for the Halifax Regional School Board where I had been an employee since 1995. After being elected to city council in December 2007, I took a political leave of absence to fulfill my role as a public servant.
And in the past month I have started a business, Jackie Bee Designs. Just like politics was a dream for me, so was starting this small business. I love design and I always have. By Christmas of 2012 I had connected with a few like-minded women and pitched my idea to create items mainly from reclaimed materials. Together we started to collaborate. The results were encouraging and Jackie Bee Designs was created. Items are presently available online, but in the first two weeks of business it was evident that there is a market, so I am already working through my business plan and considering next steps. I love the concept of a cottage industry that supports local artisans. Unless you are an artist I believe it is difficult to appreciate the need to create. I was an artist who became a politician and now I have come full circle. I am appreciating life and family and time and this business is part of my solution.
The Weekly News: Final thoughts?
Barkhouse: That I extend a heartfelt thank you to those residents whose support gave us five years to work together.