Gwen Higgins grew up steeped in the working-class culture of Kimberley, BC, a mining town in rural British Columbia. Her father was an underground miner at Cominco’s storied Sullivan Mine. The eldest of four children, she enjoyed a free-range childhood sans bike helmets or helicopter parenting and was free to play in the woods with her friends. Dial-up internet was only just becoming common when she graduated from high school in the mid-nineties.
The landscape of her childhood included the vast tailings ponds, rumbling ore trains, industrial equipment and buildings of the mine and its concentrator plant. Those were the days before strict environmental regulations, before reclamation efforts became the norm. The environmental destruction was all around her. Those memories profoundly influence her to this day. Much of her writing centres on the themes of environmental and social devastation caused by resource industries and how they manifest in violence, disease, mental illness, and inter-generational trauma.
Higgins earned a degree in Chemical Engineering from UBC, and worked in the Fort McMurray oil sands, natural gas, and pulp & paper. She later became a CPA, and now works for a BC crown corporation.
All photos are by Gwen Higgins unless otherwise noted.
A statement from Gwen: I respectfully acknowledge that I live and work in the traditional, unceded territory of the Ktunaxa People, the Sinixt, and the Okanagan Sylix.