Posts Tagged ‘Elaine Willis’

Last night I attended the Vancouver YWCA Women of Distinction Awards as a nominee. The nominees were truly an amazing group of women. I was truly impressed with the achievements and passion of the group.  I recognized that, collectively, there were many world changers sharing the stage with me.

I did suffer some chemical sensitivity issues early in the evening, especially when we were sent into a tiny room, where the newly perfumed women were gathered to practice going on the stage. Oxygen at maximum was not stopping the symptoms of watery eyes, extreme irritability, inability to concentrate and the strong feeling of a need to escape. The inner me was trying to stay calm but the inner me disappears and the animal me comes to the fore. Lucky for me, my dear (and I cannot emphasize this word enough), dear, dear friend, Dr. Lynn Elen Burton, acting as attendant (and she is not that kind of doctor, she’s an academic) was with me trying to stave off the reactions she has seen up close. Fortunately, in their wisdom (or was it due to Lynn’s pleasant attentiveness to the situation and her ability to communicate with the volunteers?) those in charge allowed me to wait by the ramp rather than repeating my entrance and exit from this little room.

From that point on, the evening was delightful. I was flanked by my scent-free friends on both sides through the dinner. Long time friends Lynn, and her husband Mario Piamonte, former Anmore Village Councillor, attended to my every need at my right. On my left,  Joe Trasolini, MLA for Port Moody-Coquitlam and Gray Giovannetti. With tickets to the event at $200.00 each, most of my friends were eliminated from participation. How lucky I was to have these four with me!

It is easy to become caught up in the competition when the reality of the event is quite simple. It has two purposes. It is to raise awareness and much-needed funding for the wonderful programs for women sponsored by the YWCA. And, in doing so, this night of celebration raises awareness of some of the women in our community who are truly outstanding in several ways. These are identified as:

1. Breaking new ground or old barriers
2. Showing vision, creativity and initiative
3. Being a leader and role model
4. Guiding, supporting and encouraging the development of others
5. Participating actively as a volunteer
6. Being recognized by her community for her contributions (i.e. awards, accolades)

I am truly grateful for the recognition and the opportunity to participate.

I delight in the fact that I am able to involve myself deeply in community work. Elsewhere in MY BLOG or in the film made about me by Glenn terBorg, you will see that there was a time in my life when this kind of community participation was just not possible. DOING is a privilege! Not everyone gets the opportunity in life to know that. I am lucky. I know that each breath, each small thing I can do, is a pleasure to be savoured.

Washing dishes – no longer a chore, I enjoy the fact that it is something I CAN DO. So imagine the delight when I managed to convince the gang at TEDxSFU that I had skills they needed. It took a few tries, but eventually, with my positive persistence, I managed to convince Jason Wong that I am a good networker and a fine “community animator” for social networking. They didn’t really need someone for these jobs, but eventually some holes emerged, and here I am, part of a dynamic YOUNG team. The event is only two weeks away. I think it will be amazing.

I have met none of these people in the flesh, but with telephones, SKYPE, email and lots of effort and imagination, I can feel the energy that exudes. TEDxSFU is going to be one of those don’t miss events. And not to worry if you are not in the live audience… It will be webcast. The talks will be filmed. Our dream is that TED will pick up a few and share them with the world. We KNOW we have the calibre of speakers that will WOW TEDsters, TEDophiles, TED-lovers everywhere.

Meanwhile, I am looking for the ultimate red chair, black table and matching decorator lamp as a loaner for the stage. The stage measures about 10 feet by 4 feet (it’s small). Sophistication and simplicity would be the dream combination. Acknowledgment in the program would be the reward. Any takers?

Contact me! Time is SHORT!

Hello, neighbours…

It is a privilege to have an opportunity to stand before you this evening, once again to offer to serve you as a Councillor in the Village of Anmore. Many of you have come to know that I am a passionate advocate…for individuals, for the environment, for sustainability, for the ARTS, for this Village and for the Tri-City region.

There is no us and them. That is an illusion. There are only people – some with a more generous spirit than others. This can be observed in small, every-day behaviours. You can see it in how they interact with a child or with nature. You can see it in the things they choose to do with their time. When you choose someone to lead your country or your province or your village, what do you want? A kind person? An honest person? A person who does not just promise to do her best but shows it every day? A person who demonstrates true kindness of spirit? A person with a strong work ethic? A person who can suspend judgment?  A person who can truly listen and does so? A person who will not be bullied? I offer you these, my good qualities – and more because I KNOW…

Such a person will bring to the COUNCIL table your interests, always. You can trust that selfishness, greed and power will not be on MY agenda.

It is certainly helpful if your leader can understand easily the workings of government, and I have studied hard over the years. Yet I put it to you: it is equally important to bring questions to the table.

The candidates here before you this evening have worked hard – to promise you the same promises I have seen on campaign literature over the last three elections. If you peruse my handouts, mail-outs and websites, you will see that financial accountability, environmental protection and community planning are important to me as well. The difference I can offer you – is my community record of committee work, consensus-building and advocacy.

I am here for you –  and I am here for Anmore. On election day, vote for ELAINE WILLIS.


It is not an easy decision to run for Council in Anmore. It is a tiny municipality. There are currently about 1400 voters. Three years ago there were approximately 1200 voters which actually demonstrates the growth we are experiencing, and one of the reasons I decided I must, once again, offer to serve. From 2001 to 2006 there was a 32.8% population increase, and this upward population pressure continues. With a “Rural” designation from Metro Vancouver and an outdated, incomplete Official Community Plan with a firm one acre minimum lot size, the village is evolving via the drift rather than plan mechanism that is created by development pressures. Land values continue to soar and conflict between development and sustainability have come to the fore.

What to do about it? Clearly deflecting attention from it with conflict will not solve the problem. Communication, consensus-building and judicious planning are required to create sustainable development. The Official Community Plan must be revised and adhered to. We must also work effectively with our neighbours. Anmore does not exist in a vacuum. The region of the Tri-Cities shares air and watersheds, we share roadways, transportation and infrastructure. We share services. Working within this small region is as important as working with the greater region of Metro Vancouver in planning and decision making and I pledge to keep communication key for shared resources and services. Already I have inserted myself into committees relating to hospital services, watershed management, social services and the arts in the Tri-Cities as I believe so strongly in their importance.

So, a vote for me is a vote for communication, for dialogue, and for advocacy for our village and our region. I promise to stand for and maintain open government, to be responsive to the voices of individuals and to groups. Sustainable development is not rampant development; we need careful planning to keep Anmore beautiful, green and livable.  I have no hidden agenda. My life for the past several years has been devoted to advocacy. I offer that now in service as your Anmore Councillor. Vote for Elaine Willis on November 19th.

My previous post on Monday, August 22, 2011, about Jack Layton, was written before Layton’s final letter to Canadians was released to the media. His words, and media’s response to those words, changed and softened this past week. Jack wrote:


My friends, love is better than anger.
Hope is better than fear.
Optimism is better than despair.
So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic.
And we’ll change the world.


I am currently listening to Simon Sinek‘s book entitled, Start with Why, and Jack was one of those “why” leaders, akin to Martin Luther King as discussed in Sinek’s book. The publisher writes, “Why are people loyal to some leaders, but not others? Starting with WHY works in big business and small business, in the nonprofit world and in politics. Those who start with WHY never manipulate, they inspire. And people follow them not because they have to; they follow because they want to.” (Watch and listen to Sinek –TED TALKS)

Jack Layton, an inspirational leader, began his career in politics knowing WHY, sharing WHY and explaining WHY. It was only logical that the words he left to be read after his death stopped everyone in their tracks. Those of us already on board smiled and were inspired anew. The naysayers stopped criticizing instantly. They stopped wondering aloud what would happen to the NDP party left leaderless at this critical time. Gobstopped they were. The mainstream media reports of a leaderless ship immediately ceasedwhen those words above were released. Our prime minister, after some consideration, changed his plans. Oh, Jack, you are legend already! I am so saddened by your loss but so proud that you knew just what to do, just when to do it.

As the timid worry that the party will not be strong because you are no longer here in the flesh… I will take it upon myself to remind them!

….and on FACEBOOK I wrote in response to the fear that we have no leader….for now – we will all step up – for the secret IS UNITY, the secret is that we are UNITED. His mission was accomplished in his leadership – brilliant man – one inspired, positive, charismatic leader can pull the party together for decades. We have many, great potential leaders but what they need is all of us, carrying our bit of Jack within, to stay together, to stay positive and to know that the time for social justice and ordinary people has once again come to the fore! Not maybe, but certainly!

  • 36 minutes ago · Like · 3 people

Jack Layton (1950-2011)







I very much enjoyed the experience of presenting. I realize, after the fact, just how much my left brain dominates.  Although I have a good understanding of how the artistic, right-brained individuals function, I am less tolerant of their function than I would like to be when it comes to what I perceive to be  “professional” events and functions. I am not sure if that is something I learned or if it is innate.

I wanted to (and was) on time for the meeting for the presenters. Part of me knew it would be foolish to worry about being on time for an “artsy event”  but that’s who I am (remember the left-brain dominance). The meeting did not occur and the person who called it did not arrive until forty-five minutes later. In fact the level of organization was just not the tight, structured,  Japanese, haiku-like form that is PechaKucha. So as I waited and watched for the show to begin, safely inhaling oxygen at 4 litres per minute (one of the presenters wore a LOT of fragrance), I experienced some cognitive dissonance. I so firmly believe that the production should be organized, should start on time, should be coordinated  professionally – after all people are paying to see the show. On the other hand the audience is happy, largely unaware that the media is not present, the photographer and film crew are absent, the meeting did not take place – they are more than happy.

Dissonance…tells more about me than the situation… “dissonance is reduced by justifying, blaming, and denying”.  I realize I have done all three. So while other people turn inward with nervousness, do I look outward…settling upon justification for the situation by noting that all went well despite the disorganization which I perceived?  The arts community pitched in and did what was needed. The audience was inspired. The focus was on the positive. The networking was amazing….and the feedback I received was great.

It seems that people were, on the whole,  inspired and motivated.

And when I reread “What makes a good PechaKucha” (it means chitchat in Japanese…) from the originator’s website, I know this whole thought process is something I need to continually work through…

“Good PechaKucha presentation are the ones that uncover the unexpected, unexpected talent, unexpected ideas. Some PechaKuchas tell great stories about a project or a trip. Some are incredibly personal, some are incredibly funny, but all are very different making each PechaKucha Night like ‘a box of chocolates’.”

It was a box of chocolates – there was something for everyone at PKN Coquitlam.

Jay Peachy

Sometimes you get the tenant you need and sometimes you get the tenant who needs you. Life is like that, full of give and take. I am grateful for both.

Jay came to me after a difficult time. My new suite had been vacated by me very dear tenant (who had been so helpful – he’s family now but that’s another story) when the developer of the adjacent lands cut off access to my property.

The most important criterion for becoming my tenant is being scent and chemical free. A long round of emails confirmed that Jay  was a good communicator, willing to completely give up the use of all scent and chemical products and delighted to find a space that would allow his dog. I agreed to meet him.

There were a number of applicants but something drew me to this man with no references, a strange affect, no job and clearly no money for the deposit …and our relationship began: landlord- tenant; advocate-client; employer-attendant; patron-artist; neighbour-neighbour; friend-friend. There were and are many more aspects to our relationship. I know that this was the place where he was meant to heal and evolve more fully into Jay Peachy, the artist. And clearly, although he is not the tenant I anticipated, one who could be the helper I needed for my physical challenges – do not get the idea it is a one way street.

Jay is an amazing attendant when I go to medical appointments and need someone to guard me against reactions to chemical exposure. He has twice administered the epipen and numerous times supplied oxygen when required. He’s amazing and was once asked in a medical setting if he was a nurse when he deftly saved my life.

But here in Anmore, “Nature’s Home” as Dr. Lynn Burton and I are determined to label this beautiful community, Jay has healed and blossomed. Yes, he still has bipolar disorder. But now he has safety nets in place, a home community, the courage to stand up and face the world fighting the stigma, LABEL clearly pasted on his forehead, and help others tirelessly through his artistic genius.

He has become a volunteer at Mossom Creek Hatchery just below our home, connected with salmon enhancement and conservation and swallowed that into his art and essence. He hosts a radio show, Sound Therapy Radio on CJSF and has now won awards for his efforts. His standup comedy is just another of his artistic endeavours.  Jay Peachy brought Art in the Garden to Anmore with a group of enthusiastic volunteers inviting the support and promotional assistance of the Tri-City Arts Connect Umbrella.

Twenty-four months ago, this young man could not get himself out of bed. He was defeated by a disease and a system. One hand up, a lot of nature and living with his faithful dog companion, Star, and he didn’t just come back, he’s bringing others with him and showing them the way.

Vancouver marked International Day for Persons with Disabilities with a ceremony celebrating their contributions to society. I marked it remembering…

Actually, the remembering was triggered by meeting Paul Caune in person last week on a very, very cold day. Paul is a man with focus. Focus is definitely what is needed to achieve goals. But Paul had something else, besides a wheelchair, which reminded me very much of my friend, Dr. Mark Dickson, who passed on, too suddenly, April 7, 2007.

Paul exuded a rare intelligence, combined with patience, and a genuine interest in others. I need to find a new vocabulary to describe these qualities which I saw in both Paul and Mark. I know that I would have taken great pleasure in introducing Mark and Paul…do I only pretend to live in the now? Wistfully I look backwards, because not only would Paul have enjoyed our very silly, intellectual games from Mark’s “Book of Difficult Words”, but the desperately needed social change for which Paul is advocating would not just resonate with Mark, it would have helped him; because even Dr. Dickson (BAMAPHD) was disempowered greatly by a system, that in the end reduced him to what was his body and NOT his mind.

The main reason for today’s post – to honour memories by taking action. Those people who have touched us in any way, small or large, become part of us, literally as we breathe in their air, and figuratively as we share their thoughts…

Mark’s eulogy, as spoken at his funeral… (thanks FIONA for still having it on your computer)

Mark Dickson…

Friend…philosopher…friend…..person with Friedreich’s Ataxia…friend….chess player….friend….gentleman…friend….DOCTOR….friend….mentor…
friend….son…friend… brother….friend…uncle….friend….friend….friend…friend…..

And so ran the theme of my thoughts about Mark…always a good friend…

Mark was very tolerant and modeled tolerance for me. When I spent time with him, I knew more what kind of a person I wanted to be,

This quote from Joseph Addison reminds me much of Mark’s demeanor:

It is only imperfection
That complains of what is imperfect.
The more perfect we are
The more gentle and quiet we become
Towards the defects of others.

I was proud of our friendship and as I thought about it I realize I had introduced many of MY FRIENDS and relatives to MARK.. the special ones..the ones who deserved to know him..because Mark was special and dear and kind and warm and thoughtful…and yes as our mutual friend Wendy said…very different in person than in his writing. Mark was NOT perfect but to me he was a perfect friend and I wish I had a chance to be a more perfect friend to him for a longer period of time as he was snatched from life before I had a chance to finish all the conversations and dreams I had for our friendship.

I was always fascinated by Mark’s ability with chess. Not so much that he could beat me as I am a mediocre chess player but I remember answering the phone at his house one day and someone saying into the phone Queen’s Knight to King’s Bishop Three or some such thing and I repeated the information to Mark who was engaged in earnest conversation with someone else at a social gathering…we held them regularly at Mark’s house in the good old days… He calmly replied with some other chess move which I repeated into the phone and he carried on with his conversation. I asked him later about it and he said he carried on several chess games with people…..his pieces only in his head. The others would phone in their moves every few DAYS! WHAT A BRAIN! WHAT A MIND! What a privilege to have had MARK DICKSON as a friend.

I have so many stories about MARK, but Mark would always choose to be fair and let everyone have a chance to speak and not let any one person be the only one to speak on a subject, so as my role model would have it, I will let another speak through my eulogy.

So the next memory is from Wendy O’Rourke.. She was living near Boston at the time and wasn’t sure she wanted to meet Mark but I dragged her to his house for one of these famous social gatherings. Wendy writes “On a visit to Elaine’s, she announced I was going to meet Mark, face to face, and I would see how wrong I was about him. I resented taking any of my time to visit a man I perceived as severely stuck on himself. I was SO wrong. Face to face, Mark was a warm and sensitive, sweet man, who loved a good discussion, especially one with opposing views. I learned his pride in his education was based on the inspiration his mother had provided. He told us, with his voice breaking, and tears in his eyes, that she had told him his body might fail him, but his education could never be taken away from him. He apologized for getting so emotional. As he spoke of his mother, her love for him and his for her, Elaine and I exchanged glances and knew how much it would mean, to us, for even one of our children to say anything about us, along the lines of what he had said about his mother. We would know we had done our job well!”

In closing, I would like to echo Wendy’s thoughts that Mark was a sensitive man. He was also a kind and fair human being. I remember well that soon after Rawnie Dunn announced that she could no longer attend BC ATAXIA SOCIETY meetings that if Rawnie couldn’t get to the BCAS then the BCAS would come to RAWNIE and we began having meetings at RAWNIE’S house in BURNABY. What a lovely principle considering how difficult it was for Mark to actually get to Rawnie’s place himself….

And the ultimate honour for me…Rawnie emailed after receiving news of Mark’s passing to tell me that Mark considered me to be one of his very dearest friends.

He is a perfect friend that will be dearly missed and fondly remembered….

So, for Mark, for myself, for the future and for what is right, I will work with Paul Caune to make Civil Rights Now!, his vision of political action. I will assist in the moving of disability rights from theory into practice, sooner and not later. Dr. Mark Dickson, BA, MA, PhD is with me still.

To learn more about CIVIL RIGHTS NOW!, read a speech delivered by Paul Caune on December 10th – click here.

Do you see a disconnect?

The Metro Waste Draft Plan includes the building of new Waste-to-Energy facilities inside and/or outside our region.

Here is my speech to them last night in a building filled with VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS forcing me to speak while attached to an oxygen tank inhaling O2 at 5 litres per minute:

First I want to thank you for adding this additional Public Consultation evening to your agenda.

My name is Elaine Willis and I have had the privilege of being a teacher for most of my adult life.  Because of what has been labelled Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, the privilege of continuing my chosen profession, for pay, has been suspended.

People with an exquisite sensitivity to toxic chemicals are often called “canaries.” The name comes from the old practice of miners who took canaries with them into the mines; if the canary died from toxic air in the shaft, the miners had time to escape with their lives. People with chemical sensitivities are the canaries of the modern world.

In 1999, a consensus was reached among a large group of specialists in defining Multiple Chemical Sensitivity as

[1] a chronic condition

[2] with symptoms that recur reproducibly

[3] in response to low levels of exposure

[4] to multiple unrelated chemicals and

[5] improve or resolve when incitants are removed

THE BC LUNG ASSOCIATION website tells us that some 30% of Canadians already report adverse reactions to some chemical products.

In layman’s terms, people with MCS react unfavorably when exposed to any amount, from minute to gross, of toxic chemicals too numerous to list. Symptoms vary from fleeting to severe and might include rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, fatigue, flushing, dizziness, nausea, coughing, difficulty concentrating, problems with memory, migraine, or even life threatening seizures, anaphylaxis or respiratory distress. This chemical sensitivity condition is not rare and the numbers of people who have it are growing. I, myself, had a stroke caused by chemical exposure.

But the truth is, it’s not just chemically sensitive people who are being affected by a toxic environment. The general public is being exposed to tens of thousands of chemicals that didn’t even exist until a few decades ago. Many of these chemicals, some found in everyday household products like cleansers and cosmetics are known to be or are suspected of causing cancer, reproductive problems, developmental disabilities, and heart disease.

What has this to do with the Metro Solid Waste Management Plan?  These products will be disposed of – they are mostly unregulated, untested and uncontrolled. A look at Metro Vancouver’s Vision Statement which includes social justice and compassion, a beautiful and healthy natural environment and a commitment to the well-being of current and future generations shows a disconnect. How can the creation or even the consideration of the creation of mass incineration be on the table? How can any emissions into the air be considered acceptable?

Let’s go back to my teaching career – my 1990’s classroom. I hope you can try to visualize this… I did some early research projects with robotics using LEGO bricks and Apple computers for programming. Students as young as six years old worked in groups to create and program moving objects, many of which were vehicles. Of course, given their limited experience, either with machines, or with LEGO, the creations needed to be changed in order to function. I noted two distinct types of engineering strategies. There were those who saw the flaw, took the whole thing apart and started again with the new insights – and those who kept adding parts to compensate for the flaws, creating a bulkier machine, which may or may not function – flaws addressed, but in the end when the motors were attached, usually parts would go flying off in all directions. The analogy here is Metro’s DRAFT PLAN…many helpful citizens have pointed out the glaring flaw. Please don’t attach the motor!

When I was attending university, I had a professor, Milt McClaren, who was already taking the bus when most of us didn’t know what Environmental Studies were…the most important thing he taught me…There is no such place as away! We can’t incinerate the waste and think it is gone. The nanoparticles will go into my body. The ash will still go into the landfill. The filters and scrubbers, they have to go somewhere too.

Thank you.

And my subsequent comments left on the website where responses are welcomed:

and posted to the Tri-City Green Council website and Facebook:

DRAFT METRO WASTE PLAN: many people feel that the draft plan is a sham.. I am hopeful that I did not waste many evenings and much sober thought trying to convince the committee that the science that led to the draft plan contained some flaws and needs some revision…the hard work of the committee is appreciated – but …changes MUST occur. I had to leave due to air quality. I have now saved the taxpayers much money in medical expenditures. By preserving the airshed, we preserve the health of our citizens – I am not alone – I am your canary – with a system sensitive enough to detect that our modern world, industries, building materials, and endless pollution has reached a critical moment in time. Let’s turn this plan around now! The decisions made by METRO VANCOUVER can demonstrate leadership to the world – let’s do so!

NOTE: information about MCS copied from – if you are interested in MCS or already show symptoms, this is a great resource for you.

Gwen was the baby sister of my mother-in-law and the sister I knew the best. Her daughter, Catherine, a cousin by marriage, is a cousin I am absolutely delighted to have acquired when I married Ted. Together these two women demonstrated loving family values and warmly embraced my little family at all times. Gwen, you will be missed. Catherine, we must hold you closer now that your sweet MOM has passed.

Gwen welcomed my tiny granddaughter, Calli, a fellow preemie, with the firm knowlegde that she would survive her precarious birth at one pound thirteen ounces. She always found some way to forge a special bond with each person, finding common ground. I only realize that now. Gwen, you really knew how to make people feel at ease.

Gwen was born on August 23rd, 1924 in Drinkwater, Saskatchewan, premature and at that time an unlikely survivor. But with her fighting spirit she continued on for over 85 years, caring for others as a mother, nurse and humanitarian. Like her sisters, she was a gracious hostess and clever conversationalist. I had the privilege of reading these, her daughter’s words, at Gwen’s memorial service held on February 13th, Betty’s birthday! In addition, there I met and had a delightful conversation with the presiding United Church Minister from Port Moody, Julie Lebrun. Thank you, Gwen, for that connection!


My mother, my best friend.

The person I am today is directly attributable to her love and care
and guidance throughout my life.  A better role model could not be

She was the original Pollyanna!  She looked for the good in people and
surely found it.  She accepted everyone… well… almost everyone…  warts
and all!   She knew that people had foibles but she chose to
concentrate on their goodness.

Her credo was “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

She was one of the original “pay it forward” people.  Whenever she did
something for someone and they thanked her she would often say,
“you’ll do this for someone else one day”, or “pass it on to someone

I say to each of you today what Mom would say – don’t put off to
tomorrow what you can do for someone else today.

Mom was a wise woman to whom people looked for advice and guidance.  I
want to be just like her when I grow up.

Thank you.

The following are some of Malcolm McColl’s words. It was lovely to listen again to bits of Gwen’s story – the pioneering spirit of her journeys through what must have seemed a very wild west coast of British Columbia. And, although I have not spent much time with Malcom, getting to know him since Gwen’s passing has been a privilege. What a lovely man.

Mom touched so many
people’s lives in so many ways and your attendance here today is
heartwarming and demonstrates the affection that you felt for Gwen.

I’ve been struggling with what to offer in celebration, and after
consideration, I thought Mom would be happier with us sharing some
anecdotes from her life that capture her spirit and personality. Many
of these stories are from her early life as I never considered Mom
“funny” when I was growing up

Gwen was always a fighter and trailblazer. Born 2 months prematurely
in 1924, she survived by being incubated in a box on the oven door and
fed Eagle Brand milk thru an eyedropper. Although others always said
she was a survivor, she always liked to say she was just Half Baked.

At the age of 23, she crossed the country and travelled up the west
coast to Bella Bella (now Waglisla ) into what was the wilderness
where she worked at United Church Hospital for 2 years. Travelling on
a hospital ship she became well known by residents of the various
communities they served. Serving communities from Butedale to Rivers
Inlet the hospital ship served it was nevertheless a fairly small
community and individuals become known to all.

Gwen bonded with members of the Waglisla community and was invited to
different homes on special occasions. At the first party she attended,
she was continually presented with trays of sandwiches and, not
wanting to be rude, she accepted something off every tray, making a
noble effort to eat it all. After an hour or so she noticed while
others were also taking sandwiches, they all had a napkin on the floor
where they were saving the sandwiches to take home!

Another indication of her belief in innocence was the time one
of her patients, a character in his own right, said he
had something for her, and presented her with 2 dice. She thanked him
and put them in her pocket. A few months later while talking to Sgt
MacAlpine off the RCMP MV Tofino, she said “Sergeant, I was given
these dice but there’s something wrong with them. Every time I roll
them the same number comes up.” Sgt MacAlpine told her to pick up the
dice and come with him. He took her down to the pier where he
instructed her to throw them in 2 different directions, 1 over here
and the other over there. This she did, and when finished the Sgt
informed that those were loaded dice, very illegal and that he could
have arrested her for possessing them.

After Mom and Dad married, they moved to Butedale, a small cannery
town. There mom began her culinary career. She literally could not
boil water as her mother had trained 3 older sisters in the kitchen
and had decided that that was enough. My Dad bought her a cookbook
which she read diligently. They were living on a float house where my
dad often said that more food went out the window into the salt chuck
than went to the table. On one occasion, my dad was given a couple of
“illegally obtained” ducks. He informed Mom that she had to be
discreet in her handling of the birds. The float house having been
beached, she crawled underneath, where, uncertain as to how to handle
the ducks, called on her medical training, and carefully skinned them
(NOT plucked).  Reading the cookbook, it said an apple should be
inserted into the cavity. This she did and put them in the oven. My
Dad said when he got home, his mouth started watering because the
aroma was so amazing. Then he opened the oven a saw “2 Cannonballs”
awaiting him. More food for the fish. Dan Schuetze a family friend,
used to joke that when he saw the seagulls flying low, it meant Gwen
was cooking again. This was not our experience growing up as mom
turned into a first rate cook.

Before I close, I’d like to add a personal note. After my father died,
I caused my mom a lot of grief on several occasions. During this time,
she never judged me and never stopped loving me. This was her nature
not only with family, but everyone she met friends, workmates and

She loved life and people, and even as she struggled with physical
infirmities, her positive, optimistic nature never changed.

We will all miss Gwen, but we can all be grateful the time she shared
with us and the myriad ways she touched us. She is with her beloved
Grant, her siblings and parents, and watching over us all. As long as
we share her memory, she will never really leave us as she has left a
personal heartprint on us all.