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, and her mother was a homemaker who later divorced Gwen’s father and became a psychiatric nurse. The eldest of four children, Higgins 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 1994.
The landscape of her childhood included the vast tailings ponds, rumbling ore trains, industrial equipment and buildings of the Sullivan 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 Higgins to this day. Much of her writing centres on the environmental and social devastation of resource industries and how they manifest in violence, disease, and inter-generational trauma.
Although Higgins studied piano as a child from age 4 and always loved to write, rebellion against traditional female roles and pressures from her working-class upbringing led her to seek a “practical” career in engineering, not in the arts. Her memories now include working in industry as a chemical engineer. Higgins’s engineering career included working for Syncrude in the Oil Sands of Fort McMurray, natural gas distribution, and pulp & paper.
Eventually, Higgins sought a more flexible career after marrying and having children. Armed with a minor in commerce from her UBC degree, she became an accountant. She is now a chartered professional accountant and writes & creates in her spare time.
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.