Sonia Furstenau grew up with a strong sense of the importance of democracy. As a child, she travelled with her father to his native East Germany. It was there she realized that democracy is something that must be nurtured and protected.
Sonia studied at the University of Victoria, where she completed her BA and MA in History, and her Bachelor of Education degree. She has worked as a waitress, a bookkeeper, as the National Administrator for Results Canada, and as a high school teacher in Victoria and Shawnigan Lake. She is the proud parent of three children and two step-children.
In 2013, Sonia learned that the provincial government was considering granting a permit to a company to dump contaminated soil in a quarry at the headwaters of her community’s drinking watershed. Sonia began organizing alongside her community, questioning the evidence behind the government’s decision to issue the permits. In 2014, she was elected Area Director for Area B of the Cowichan Valley Regional District.
In 2017, after years of hard work and advocacy, the Ministry of the Environment did something unprecedented: it revoked the permit. Months later, Sonia was elected as the first B.C. Green MLA for Cowichan Valley. In October 2018, she stood with the Environment Minister as they introduced legislation to reform the province’s use of professional reliance, the broken system that led to the Shawnigan permits being issued in the first place.
As a B.C. Green MLA, Sonia has served as the lead spokesperson for seven different government files. She has successfully advocated for changes to the child welfare system; worked with the government to make reforms to environmental legislation and to develop childcare and early childhood education programs; and stood up against the government’s tax breaks to the fossil fuel industry.
Sonia lives in the Cowichan Valley with her husband Blaise and their children.