Born and raised in Salmon Arm, Karen Askew Angove learned about work and responsibility at an early age. She graduated from Salmon Arm Secondary and worked at Askew’s in the summers. She remembers when her parents, Lloyd and Dorothy Askew, ran Salmon Arm Meat and Produce Limited on Alexander Street. Then in 1968, when she was in Grade 11, they built the store on Lakeshore.
Karen went to UBC, graduating in 1973 with a degree in Biology, specializing in Ecology. “I knew what needed fixing in the world,” she says. But first she travelled around the world, spending one year in Europe and one and a half years in Australia, New Zealand, and South East Asia. That time in the wider world “changed me” she said. She admits to becoming more open minded, more tolerant of people and different cultures.
When she returned home she worked in research as a biologist for the Ministry of Forests in Kamloops, mapping the ecosystems of the province for forest regeneration. As a botanist she also wrote a book on plants for forestry workers. During this 18-year career she married and had a son and daughter.
In 1988 Lloyd started thinking of retirement and approached Karen to take over the business. Her brother and older sister lived their lives in Vancouver and showed no interest in the business. Karen took up the challenge, retiring from Forestry, and plunging into a steep learning curve with Lloyd and Dorothy as mentors in the grocery business.
“It was incredibly hard work—managing the stores, planning for the future of Askew’s, being a mother and wife.” And, she was involved in community organizations. Working at Askew’s, Karen demonstrated what it means to be progressive, open minded, and inclusive. Her employees and the community respected her.
Lloyd had opened the Armstrong store in 1975 and Karen continued to expand, opening the Sicamous store in 1997. In a visionary move she purchased the uptown property in 2006. With the property in place, the uptown store was built in 2012. Karen managed Askew’s from 1988 until 2009 – 21 years.
Karen still has friends and contacts in the grocery business, having attended many provincial trade shows with grocers, suppliers, and thousands of attendees. She was one of only a few women in management in the grocery industry in BC and said it was difficult running a grocery store and being female. She was definitely a pioneer for women in business and surely a role model for young women.
As a founding member on the SABNES (Salmon Arm Bay Nature Enhancement Society) Board Karen’s biology/ecology knowledge and forestry connections furthered work on the foreshore trail. She also served on the Downtown Improvement Association and Economic Development Boards. Her knowledge of the Salmon Arm business community served her well as a board member of the Shuswap Community Foundation and as its President for four years. One of her achievements was leading the Project Team to create the ‘Shuswap’s Vital Signs – Taking the Pulse of our Communities’ report in 2011.
Karen’s long years of community involvement in both the business and volunteer sectors gave her a good feel for community needs. In 2019 she established the Karen Angove Endowment Fund to satisfy two of her passions—the SAFE Society and the needs of the Foundation. Karen has designated 25% of the proceeds from her fund for the SAFE society. 75% will be disbursed at the Foundation’s discretion. While many funds support specific worthy causes, Karen knows that Foundation directors need flexibility to meet evolving community needs. Karen’s vision will help fill this need in perpetuity.