When Harry and Lois Higgins moved to Salmon Arm in 1968 the small community seemed to be waiting for their energy and ideas. They met in Manila, Philippines, where Harry, an Australian, was working with Shell Oil and Lois, an American, was visiting her parents. Together they decided to make Canada their home, living first in Ocean Falls then in Enderby for two years before moving to Salmon Arm. Here they grew deep roots and participated in community building as leaders and participants. They raised their three sons, Robin, David and Bill who still have friends and close ties to the Shuswap although they no longer live here.
Harry worked as a school administrator, including sixteen years as principal of J.L. Jackson Sr. Secondary School. He was involved with the Shuswap Teachers’ Association and the provincial BC Teachers Federation. In Salmon Arm he was a founding member of the counseling committee of the Drug and Alcohol Association and the Community Alternatives Measures Program (CAM) which was organized by the Attorney General’s office to divert young offenders from the courts through mediation and counseling. As a keen naturalist Harry participated with the University of Victoria and its graduate students in a rattlesnake study to mark over 1500 snakes in the Vernon area.
Lois was a founding member of the Shuswap Naturalist Club, the Shuswap District Arts Council, Shuswap Theatre, and the Shuswap Daycare Centre. She was also a Board member with the Shuswap Independent Living Association (SILA), the Caravan Stage Company, Okanagan College Advisory Council and the Salmon Arm committee for the Okanagan Symphony. Her interests included being a member of the Shuswap Singers and the writing group Octava for many years.
The vision of a community foundation led Lois and a small group of like-minded individuals to set up a steering committee to explore this idea. For two years this committee proceeded carefully to plan and put in place the requirements for the Shuswap Community Foundation. Lois then served on the first Board of Directors formed on January 10, 1994 remaining a member and Chair of the Grants Committee until her retirement in 2011. She continues to serve as advisor to the Grants Committee. When not involved in building and promoting community groups Harry and Lois enjoyed the great outdoors as cross-country skiers, hikers and canoeists taking one or two-week trips on rivers in Alberta and BC for many years. Lois’ work in the travel industry provided ideas and opened doors to journeys to all parts of the world including an entire sabbatical year in the South Pacific and Asia.
In 2009 Harry and Lois set up the Higgins Family Endowment fund as a totally discretionary fund because they understand the importance of non-discretionary funds that allow the Foundation Board to meet the changing needs of the community. The Higgins Family Endowment Fund is a lasting legacy to two ardent community builders and the quality-of-life organizations they helped to create.