Category "Local Health"


BC project that kept more drug-addicted patients in treatment expands

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A man injects himself at a bus shelter in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, Monday, Dec.19, 2016.

Jonathan Hayward / THE CANADIAN PRESS

An 18-month pilot project is being expanded across British Columbia after more than double the number of drug-addicted people stayed in treatment to stop them from fatally overdosing.

The initiative, led by the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS and Vancouver Coastal Health, uses the same strategy that helped drive down the province’s HIV and AIDS rates.

Dr. Rolando Barrios, the centre’s senior medical director, says it involves tracking patients who don’t show up for appointments and uses a team of doctors, nurses and social workers to follow them through treatment to help with their needs such as housing and employment.

The pilot at 17 clinics in Vancouver involved 1,100 patients and showed seven out of 10 of them stayed in treatment after three months, up from three people, as part of a program that prescribes substitute opioids to curb drug cravings and ward off withdrawal symptoms.

Barrios says retaining people who are addicted to opioids like heroin and fentanyl in treatment is the biggest hurdle in the overdose crisis that has claimed thousands of lives.

He says the expansion of the pilot involves simple steps such as reminding patients when their medication is about to expire and having pharmacies connect with health-care teams when people don’t pick up their medications.

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Most Canadians favour smoking ban in multi-family buildings: poll

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Practically nine-in-ten Canadians agree with banning smoking in indoor public spaces, public transit facilities and workplaces.

Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Most Canadians are in favour of prohibiting residents from smoking in apartment buildings and condominiums, a new Research Co. poll has found.

An online survey found that almost seven-in-ten Canadians (72 per cent) support banning smoking (tobacco and marijuana) in multi-family buildings, while one-in-four (25 per cent) are opposed to the prohibition.

Almost 74 per cent of women supported the ban as did Canadians aged 55 and above. About 75 per cent of  Quebecers and 74 per cent British Columbians were also in favour.

The poll also found that more than two thirds of Canadians agree with the federal government’s decision to implement plain and standardized tobacco packaging. This was one of several areas covered by Bill C-5, which also established guidelines for vaping products.

Almost 90 per cent per cent of Canadians agree with banning smoking in indoor public spaces, public transit facilities and workplaces, including restaurants, bars and casinos.

Additionally, three-in-four Canadians also agree with banning smoking in private vehicles occupied by children.

“The regulations that have been in place for years to deal with smoking across Canada remain popular,” said Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “There is a high level of support for bringing multi-family dwellings to the list of places where people should not be allowed to smoke.”

The survey was conducted earlier this month among 1,000 adults in Canada. The margin of error is +/- 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.


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Bolt drilled through a skull is rescuing patients with brain injuries

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Dr. Mypinder Sekhon demonstrates catheters and the new brain bolt that were used in a life-saving procedure at VGH in Vancouver, BC, Jan. 16, 2019.

Arlen Redekop / PNG

Brad Baylis doesn’t remember anything about the day last summer when he hit a moose while driving in northern B.C.

Indeed, everything the Prince George man knows about his close brush with death — not to mention the entire month afterward — he’s pieced together from friends, family and medical professionals who saved his life after the moose crashed through his windshield, sending Baylis careening into a ditch and trapped in his vehicle.

Baylis, 39, and the moose would be extricated from the vehicle and he would be airlifted to Vancouver General Hospital on life support. While he was in the intensive-care unit for a month, plastic surgeons would spend 10 hours perfectly reconstructing his shattered face and intensive-care specialists would make Baylis the first patient to get a new procedure called brain microdialysis.

Undated handout photo of Bradley Baylis and girlfriend Carla Lewis. Bradley Baylis of Prince George hit a moose near Fraser lake in 2018.

Nikola Bennett /


With Baylis on the verge of dying from his traumatic brain injury, Dr. Mypinder Sekhon and colleagues deployed newly acquired tools that allowed them to frequently monitor Baylis’s brain-tissue chemistry so they could tailor the amount of glucose and other metabolic supplements he needed intravenously. They were also able to do real-time monitoring of oxygen and blood-pressure levels in his brain to deliver medications with doses tailored to his condition rather than giving standardized doses.

“The impact with the moose caused major hemorrhaging in his brain and he was suffocating from a lack of oxygen while emergency crews were extricating him from the vehicle,” said Sekhon. “It was a horrible, horrible injury with diffuse swelling throughout his brain. Often with this kind of swelling, brain death will ensue. We had no option other than to try the bolt.”

The lumen (hollowed-out) bolt and accompanying disposable instruments are medical devices developed and manufactured by a Swedish company and, until recently, used mainly in research settings at Cambridge University in the U.K.

Neurologists drill a one-centimetre hole into the skull to place the bolt, which then allows doctors to pass a catheter through it so they can collect and analyze biochemical markers of brain activity (glucose, lactate and glutamate, among them).

Undated handout photo of Bradley Baylis in VGH.

Nikola Bennett /


The data is fed into an analyzer that gives a digital reading and then medical teams can adjust the amount of oxygen, glucose and nutrients that comatose and other brain-injured patients need to not only recover, but also to avoid permanent disabilities.

“It’s changed the way we prognosticate,” said Sekhon. “We can get a better idea of the disease process inside a patient’s brain. Before this, we would fly blind, essentially. You can give too much glucose and other supplements or not enough. Using this technique, we are now able to optimize the brain’s metabolism and personalize the care of the patient.”

Drilling holes into patients’ skulls is an admittedly invasive procedure that carries a small (0.5-per-cent) risk of infection or bleeding, but at VGH, microdialysis has been used so far on five patients, including Baylis (in the past five months), and four of them have recovered. (The fifth succumbed to the brain injury.)

After being in the ICU for a month, Baylis was then transferred to G.F. Strong for rehabilitation. He is overcome with emotion when he talks about the physical therapists there who helped him walk again, his girlfriend Carla Lewis, family members and doctors like Sekhon — all of whom “never gave up on me.”

While he hasn’t yet been cleared to return to his job as a welder, the father of three is incredulous that he’s been able to almost completely recover from a brain injury as severe as the one he had.

Dr. Mypinder Sekhon demonstrates catheters and the new brain bolt that were used in a life-saving procedure at VGH in Vancouver, BC, Jan. 16, 2019.

Arlen Redekop /


He hasn’t yet resumed driving and he’s in no rush to get back behind the wheel. When he got out of G.F. Strong a few months ago, he took the Northern Health bus back to Prince George and it was a trip that could have been terrifying and traumatizing but Baylis managed to take it in stride:

“During the latter part of the trip, the bus driver had to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting a moose. When you live in this area, you know this sort of thing is going to happen at some point. I don’t know if this last incident was luck or fate, but you have to respect moose, they are amazing animals.”

Sekhon says that when Baylis was airlifted to VGH he thought Baylis had only a 10-per-cent chance of surviving. But after a week, he came out of the coma and credits the new microdialysis tools for making the difference with his recovery. While the microdialysis tools are insanely expensive — startup costs of up to $500,000, then costs of up to $10,000 each time the suite of tools are used on patients — they would appear to be true lifesavers.

VGH is the only hospital in Canada using the microdialysis protocol and one of only a handful of hospitals around the world using it. A hospital in Calgary tried it for a while, but Sekhon said it became too expensive so it was abandoned. At VGH, donors to the hospital’s foundation covered initial acquisition fees, but now the costs are absorbed into the hospital’s annual operating budget.

Only in the last few years have specialists like Sekhon had access to tools that allow them to individualize treatment plans for patients. In 2016, Sekhon and colleagues were recognized for using brain-monitoring technology that helped salvage the neurological functions of a world-renowned freestyle skier after she crashed during an international competition. In that case, doctors drilled a hole into the skull of the 22-year old patient — Jamie Crane-Mauzy — so they could take real-time measurements of oxygen and blood-pressure levels in her brain, which enabled them to tailor medications and other interventions to her condition.

Sekhon estimates VGH will receive 20-30 patients each year who will benefit from microdialysis and other brain-monitoring. The hospital has developed a specialized neurocritical-care program consisting of neurosurgeons and intensive-care specialists so that patients with severe brain injuries can get such advanced brain-monitoring, increasing their chances of recovery.

A study published last year that tracked 113 patients with severe brain injuries showed that those who got care from the specialized team were 2.5 times more likely to have a full neurological recovery after six months.

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Cancer drivers face rising costs and growing demand in B.C.

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George Garrett helps Karon Peers get into Garrett’s car before he takes her to a doctor appointment.

Jason Payne / PNG

Increasing auto insurance rates, volatile gas prices and rising demand are all making life more challenging for the volunteers who provide cancer patients with rides to their treatment.

The Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society is piecing together its $300,000 annual budget in private donations, which average about $100, and one-time grants from foundations, corporations and city councils of a few thousand dollars at a time, said president Bob Smith, the former CEO of Fraser Health.

In the three years since the Canadian Cancer Society defunded its patient ride program, the Volunteer Cancer Drivers who stepped up in their place have logged one million kilometres and 62,000 hours.

They have done it without a shred of steady funding. The drivers — who pick up patients for treatment, wait, and then deliver them safely home — donate about $50,000 in fuel reimbursements back to the organization to keep it running.

The United Way receives $15 million in provincial funding to deliver the Better at Home program, which includes providing rides to appointments for seniors, often with local non-profit organizations and volunteers.

However, Better at Home regards the Volunteer Cancer Drivers as a form of “medical transportation” rather than just a ride, which makes them ineligible for that funding, according to Smith.

“We don’t provide any clinical care, but we do provide emotional support for people going to treatment like radiation,” said Smith. “It’s a perplexing situation to me. We just want to care for frail and elderly people.”

So, the small army of 175 drivers and 10 volunteer dispatchers could use a financial boost as demand for their service is growing by 25 to 35 per cent a year, said Smith.

Costs are rising, too.

ICBC will increase auto insurance rates by more than six per cent this year and a provincial carbon tax increase April 1 will push B.C.’s dizzying gas prices even higher.

Drivers are required to carry $3 million in personal liability insurance.

Chief fundraiser George Garrett — and his fellow board members — works full-time to keep the money flowing, but he dare not take his foot off the gas.

“I was able to get $30,000 from then-finance minister Mike de Jong to get us started, but since then we’ve had no success with the (provincial government),” said Garrett, a former news broadcaster with CKNW.

The BC Gaming Commission also gave them $30,000 in 2017, but the society really needs ongoing funding to the tune of $20,000 a month to ensure its survival.

A steady source of funding “would make all the difference in the world,” he said. “We’ve been scrambling from day one and I worry all the time.”

With no offices or paid staff, the society applies 95 per cent of every dollar donated to services.

When the Canadian Cancer Society’s driver program was cancelled — citing increasing costs and falling demand — dozens of community groups took on the work of driving cancer patients, many of them with just a few drivers each.

Of the larger organizations, the Freemasons Cancer Car program operates in the Okanagan, on Vancouver Island, and in the City of Vancouver, Burnaby and Richmond. The service was launched with $1 million in member donations and continues to be financed by the Freemasons.

The Volunteer Cancer Drivers service operates in 13 municipalities from West Vancouver all the way to Abbotsford.

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B.C. surgery wait list has grown faster than population, anesthesiologists say

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Surgical operating room.

Vancouver Sun

Anesthesiologists in British Columbia say the waiting list for medically necessary surgeries has grown to more than 85,000 patients.

The B.C. Anesthesiologists’ Society says since 2002, surgical waiting lists have increased by about three times the growth rate of the provincial population.

The society says its research up to the end of the 2018 fiscal year shows about one-third of those who require surgery have been delayed longer than the benchmark limit.

CEO Dr. Roland Orfaly says the purpose of a discussion paper released Tuesday is to signal that anesthesiologists want to work with the government and other health-care providers to find solutions.

The society represents 400 specialist doctors who work at every major hospital in the province and care for about 300,000 surgical patients every year.

The Health Ministry was not immediately available to comment.


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Langley toddler with sun allergy receives liver transplant from dad

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Charlie Lock’s Christmas came with a very special gift.

On Dec. 4, doctors removed the Langley toddler’s liver and gave her a piece of her dad’s liver. The transplant, performed by surgeons at Sick Kids in Toronto, is one of the first steps in a complicated plan to give the little girl with a severe sun allergy a more normal life.

“The transplant went really well,” Charlie’s mom Bekah Lock told Postmedia by phone from Toronto.

“We’re not out of the woods yet, but we’re grateful for how well it went.”

The next six months will see more medical procedures for the two-year-old girl and her dad, Kelsey, who was discharged from hospital a few days after his surgery, but continues to heal as his liver regenerates.

In a few months, he’ll give his tiny daughter another gift — this time, a bone-marrow transplant — that will help to save her new liver from the ravages of porphyria.


Two-year-old Charlie Lock and her mom, Bekah, in July 2018.

Nick Procaylo /


In July, two-year-old Charlie and her mom Bekah Lock met with Postmedia to talk about life with erythropoietic protoporphyria (EPP) — a genetic disease that is sometimes described as an allergy to the sun.

Even small amounts of ultraviolet light cause the toddler’s skin to burn, blister and swell. But it’s the invisible damage — the accumulation of porphyrins in her liver — that can eventually be life-threatening.

Charlie cannot go outside, not even on the cloudiest days, said her mom. The windows in the family’s Langley home are coated with UV-blocking film. To leave, she must be bundled into a stroller with a protective cover and then rushed to a vehicle with similarly coated windows.

She can’t go to a park, or visit a petting zoo, or have a play date at a friend’s house.

Her brief hours outside — the long walks her mom and dad would take with her before she was diagnosed a few weeks after her first birthday — have been forgotten.

“It’s a very small world that she lives in,” Lock told Postmedia in July.

“She’ll stare out the windows and point at the leaves in the trees. She knows what’s out there, but she’s never fully experienced it.”

A photo of Charlie when she was experiencing one of her first reactions to the sun.

Submitted photo – Bekah Lock /



Porphyria, specifically EPP, can be excruciatingly painful. The family was prepared to adapt to a life without sunlight, but shortly after Charlie’s diagnosis, there was more bad news.

People with EPP have a shortage of a particular enzyme that metabolizes porphyrins, which help with the production of hemoglobin. Without the enzyme, porphyrins accumulate in the blood, reacting with sunlight to cause burns. In a small percentage of people with EPP, porphyrins also accumulate in the liver.

Like lightning striking twice, Charlie had the rare form of EPP, which destroys the liver. Tests showed scarring similar to that of an alcoholic.

Despite the risks associated with the procedure, doctors began planning a bone-marrow transplant, which could help the little girl metabolize porphyrins. But because Charlie has two rare genetic markers, a perfect match could not be found among family or the international database. Doctors decided Kelsey’s bone marrow, although not a perfect match, could at least halt the damage to the toddler’s liver and possibly help reduce the impacts of sun exposure.

Two weeks before the bone-marrow transplant was set to take place, Charlie became seriously ill. Her enlarged liver was pressing on her lungs, leading to pneumonia. Her tiny, sick body would no longer be able to handle the chemotherapy needed to destroy her own bone marrow in preparation for the transplant.

A new plan was created. Charlie needed a new liver, so instead of donating his bone marrow, Kelsey donated a piece of his liver instead. The procedure could not be done in B.C., so the family travelled to Toronto in late fall.

Charlie Lock after her liver transplant in Toronto.

Submitted photo /


When describing Charlie’s tumultuous year, Bekah Lock is cheerful and optimistic.

The young mom celebrates the small things, like being able to hear Charlie’s little voice — and her laughter — after she was removed from a ventilator after the transplant.

“We’re not all the way there, but getting those little pieces of her back has been so good,” she said.

Lock admitted it was tough for herself and Kelsey to be away from family over Christmas, but in the same breath, she expressed gratitude for the doctors, nurses and staff at the hospital, as well as for Ronald McDonald House, where the family has been staying while in Toronto.

“They’re taking great care of us,” she said.

After Charlie becomes stronger and gains some weight, the little girl will undergo chemotherapy in preparation for the bone-marrow transplant. The family plans to remain in Toronto for that process and doesn’t expect to return to B.C. for about six months.

“It’s out of our hands,” said Lock. “We know that there will be ups and downs. It never goes perfectly to plan. But right now things are good, so we’re just going to celebrate that.”

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Natural asbestos in Abbotsford river could be a health concern

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A landslide in Washington state is causing elevated asbestos levels in an Abbotsford river that winds through some of B.C.’s best farmland.

Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun said the Sumas River is used to irrigate large parts of the Sumas Prairie, where crops range from food and flowers to forage for dairy cows.

There are fears the asbestos-laced sediment deposited on the river’s banks could be stirred up by the wind or human activity and become airborne. Inhalation of asbestos fibres can cause cancer and chronic respiratory diseases.


“It’s an issue that keeps me awake at night,” said the mayor. “You can’t tell me that (the sediment) isn’t travelling. It could be drifting into the subdivisions on Sumas Mountain for all we know.”

The city plans to dredge the river in the coming year, something it does periodically to prevent flooding. The sediment is classified as hazardous waste and must be safely handled and disposed. In 2010 and 2011, the city spent $177,000 on cleanup and buried the material beneath heavy clay to prevent it from blowing away.

But the river also leaves sediment behind every time the water rises and falls.

After flooding in January 2009, American scientists found high levels of asbestos in soil along the Sumas River in the United States. Sampling done by the City of Abbotsford in 2009, and again in 2010, “confirmed contamination concerns,” according to an information bulletin released by the city the following year.

“These concerns go back three mayors,” said Braun, who wants the provincial and federal governments to find a solution.

But the source of the problem, like the source of the river, lies across the United States border.

In 1970s, a slow-moving landslide on Sumas Mountain in north Whatcom County began clogging Swift Creek with about 6,000 dump-truck loads, or 60,000 to 130,000 cubic yards, of sediment each year. After a particularly bad storm in December 2016, a Bellingham Herald story likened the flow to “a milkshake” that was “creamy-green in color.”

The sediment contains naturally-occurring asbestos, as well as heavy metals. Swift Creek flows into the Sumas River, which then follows a sinuous course for 24.8 river kilometres before crossing into Canada near Whatcom Road in Abbotsford.

From there, the river loops through the Sumas Prairie, where high-tech pumps move the water into a network of irrigation ditches used by farmers to water their fields, before crossing Highway 1. There are at least two popular dog-walking parks along the river, which is also used by kayakers and the Fraser Valley Water Ski Club in warmer months. It eventually flows through the Sumas First Nation before draining into the Fraser River.


Last year, after several attempts to address the problem, Whatcom County received funding from the state legislature to develop a plan to trap the sediment at the source, said Roland Middleton, a manager with the Whatcom County public works department. The project is expected to take six or seven years to complete.

“There’s actually not much asbestos in the landslide itself, but it concentrates in the water,” he explained. “The heavy materials settle, but the asbestos tends to float along.”

When asked if the sediment poses a significant health hazard, Middleton said a study conducted by the Washington state health department did not find an increased incidence of cancer among people living near Swift Creek. It did, however, determine there were unsafe asbestos levels in the air when the material was disturbed.

“We’ve tried to educate people who live along the flood plain so they’re not working in it, or breathing it in,” said Middleton. “Since people don’t do that, we haven’t seen a problem.”

In the past, the county has sent out flyers telling people to keep sediment wet or bury it, and to “not let your kids play out in the dust.”


At McDonald Park Friday, dogwalkers approached by Postmedia were surprised to hear the river contains asbestos and asked if they should prevent their dogs from swimming in it or rolling in the sandy areas along the shore.

Nearby resident Dorothy Balzer said she was aware the river contained asbestos and recalled when the city changed its dredging practices. From her living room, she can watch otters playing in the water and water-skiers practicing their barefoot skiing.

Abbotsford farmer Roy Schurmann said he’d heard the river sediment could contain asbestos, but he’s never thought much about it.

“I don’t really know the levels and what level would be harmful,” he said. “I’m a farmer, and I guess we don’t tend to worry about things like that.”

Before the city began disposing of the sediment as hazardous waste, Schurmann recalled spreading some on a low spot in his field. He also irrigates from the river.

Braun said Abbotsford has been asking the Ministry of Environment for assistance on the issue for almost 10 years, but has been told there is “insufficient” evidence of health risks.


The mayor said he was aware of the U.S. study that showed no rise in cancer rates, but he worried about the 20-to-50-year average latency period for asbestos-related cancer.

“Are we going to see farmers in that area developing cancer in the future?” he said.

The B.C. Ministry of Labour identified the naturally-occurring asbestos in the Sumas River as an issue in need of study in a recent report on asbestos.

The draft report noted “there are gaps in provincial and federal approaches to (naturally occurring asbestos) in the Sumas River, namely in identifying whether local workers and residents in the City of Abbotsford and Sumas First Nation are exposed. Activity-based sampling would provide valuable information to understand the potential inhalation exposure to (naturally-occurring asbestos) released from soil into the air through common activities.”

When asked if the provincial government had a plan to assess the health risks, the Ministry of Environment responded with a statement saying the province anticipates engaging with “U.S. state and federal agencies, Canadian federal government and City of Abbotsford to develop a path forward.”

Postmedia also asked if people who lived near the river had been made aware of the possible risk associated with disturbing sediment. In response, the ministry provided links to the City of Abbotsford information bulletin posted online in 2011, as well as an Abbotsford News article from the same year.

The Ministry of Environment also provided a copy of a 2010 report done during dredging of the river, which showed that air samples at that time were well within safe limits. However, the report noted some of the samples were taken on rainy days when moisture might prevent dust from becoming airborne. There was also no wind on several of the testing days.

Meanwhile, testing of the sediment itself showed unsafe levels of asbestos.

UBC land and food systems professor Hans Schreier said the health risks associated with the sediment are a “grey area.”

Scientists have shown the fibres change when they are submerged in water, but it is not clear if they remain carcinogenic. It’s also unclear how much exposure is hazardous.

“The United States Environmental Protection Agency has been trying to do an epidemiological study, but we don’t have the answers yet,” he said.

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‘The poverty children face is often hidden from us,’ say agencies helping the 20 per cent of B.C. kids who are poor

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As she bounces nine-month-old Delilah on her knee, Amber Hawse pauses reflectively before answering a question about what she thinks she and her baby will be doing in five years.

Hawse, 20, hopes by then to have graduated from college and to have a job as a special-needs support worker. Delilah will be in kindergarten. And they will live together in their own place with enough money for food, basic expenses and peace of mind.

Her goals may seem modest, but the reality is that 20 per cent of children in B.C. live in poverty and their families struggle to provide the necessities of life, especially in Metro Vancouver with its sky-high cost of living.

Hawse knows this well, as a foster child who lurched from home to home, some of them abusive. At age 16, she was living on her own in an apartment run by a social service agency, learning to budget her meagre government payments while attending high school.

The well-spoken, thoughtful young woman hopes Delilah will not be trapped in a similar cycle. She wants to provide her daughter with financial and emotional stability — which starts with them remaining together.

“I grew up with no dad and no mom, so I don’t want to let her grow up with (being) in care and getting her abused. I want her to know she is always loved,” Hawse said, fighting back tears.

Amber Hawse, 20, with nine-month-old daughter Delilah at Aunt Leah’s in New Westminster.

Poverty and other challenges facing youth, particularly in Metro Vancouver’s inner cities, were the focus of a recent brainstorming session during which dozens of service agencies and community members came together to discuss the root causes and possible solutions to these often multi-generational crises.

“People can easily become immune to seeing homeless people on the streets, but the poverty that children face is often hidden from us,” said Jennifer Johnstone, president of Central City Foundation, which organized the Hope Dialogue Series session. “And that makes (the depth of) child poverty a surprise to people sometimes.”

The Downtown Eastside has become the focal point, with many drawn there by its plethora of low-rent buildings and free food services. But poverty exists in many other pockets of Metro Vancouver, and affects the children of struggling parents as well as children without parents.

172,550 poor kids in B.C.

The statistics, say Central City, are stark:

• One in five of all B.C. children — 172,550 kids — lives in poverty, and that jumps to one in three for off-reserve Indigenous children.

• Nearly half of recent child immigrants are impoverished.

• Half of children in poverty are raised by single parents, mostly by mothers.

• Youth aging out of foster care are 200 times more likely to become homeless before the age of 25.

And research shows that disadvantaged children can be delayed mentally and physically due to a lack of nutrition, are more likely to struggle in school and end up unemployed, and are more prone to suffer from addictions and mental illness.

The trend is improving, though, as a quarter of all B.C. youth were impoverished a decade ago, compared to 20 per cent now, according to First Call’s annual Child Poverty Report Card. B.C.’s child poverty rate has been higher than the Canadian average for at least two decades, although that gap is narrowing.

Some of B.C.’s recent improvements can be credited to the new Child Tax Benefit introduced by Ottawa in 2016, and also promising are recent commitments by provincial and federal governments to adopt poverty-reduction plans, increase affordable housing, boost the minimum wage and introduce affordable daycare.

But there is more work to do to try to overcome the systemic marginalization that has led to this poverty — such as colonialism and residential schools that have brought a disproportionate number of Indigenous people into the Downtown Eastside, Johnstone said.

Jennifer Johnstone, president and CEO of Central City Foundation.

Arlen Redekop

The October brainstorming session, which included groups such as the Urban Native Youth Association and the Aboriginal Mother Centre, was just the beginning of a very important conversation, she added.

“When we come together and see possibilities, that is the hope for change,” Johnstone said. “The children are the stewards of our future.”

Schools are more than education

Schools increasingly provide more than education to impoverished youth, especially in inner cities. But during long school breaks, at-risk children can be left without enough food, fun activities or emotional support to keep them safe during the day while their parents are working.

To bridge this gap, a unique organization called KidSafe runs full-day camps during Christmas holidays, March break and the summer at six east Vancouver schools, so 450 vulnerable children have a safe place to go each day for three healthy meals, fun activities and continued access to important services.

Children at a KidSafe camp.

“The (camps) provide continuity for things like nutrition, healthy adult relationships, just somebody having eyes on a child,” said KidSafe executive director Quincey Kirschner, who attended the Hope Dialogue session.

“The demand is ever-increasing, and it is so awful to not have enough resources to be able to provide service to all the kids and families who need it.”

Poverty is one of the reasons some children are referred by teachers and others to KidSafe, but there are other factors as well, such as emotional vulnerability, she added.

For six years, Krista Ericson has relied on the three seasonal camps to help with her four children, who are in Grades 1 through 6 at Grandview/¿uuqinak’uuh Elementary in east Vancouver. The camps provide much-needed respite for the single mother, who fostered and then adopted the four Indigenous siblings who have a range of diagnoses that include fetal alcohol syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Krista Ericson at Grandview school in Vancouver. (Arlen Redekop / PNG staff photo)

“The support during the (school) breaks is life-saving to me,” said Ericson, who added it is difficult to keep the active, high-needs children at home all day. “To think of trying to find out-of-school care for four children, I couldn’t afford it. I couldn’t afford full-time camps in the summer.”

She does not work outside the home, mainly because her days are consumed with hospital appointments and other commitments for the children.

Ericson lives in subsidized housing, shops for food that is on sale and in bulk, and is grateful for a myriad of programs — ranging from Backpack Buddies, which provides food to families for the weekends, to charity hampers and donated gifts at Christmas — that help her make ends meet.

When her children see other people with cellphones or trendy clothing, Ericson has her oft-repeated line: “I tell my kids, ‘That’s their family, and we do it differently in our family.’” She also uses the opportunity to teach her children that, although they live a modest life, they are better off than other students who don’t have enough food to eat or a safe place to sleep at night.

One of her top priorities is to include a lot of Indigenous culture in their home lives.

Indigenous culture creates ‘doorway into wellness’

After the brainstorming session in October, Central City compiled a summary of what they heard from the 100 people in attendance, and found that programs with cultural components, such as connections with elders and Indigenous languages, have been successful because they create “a doorway into wellness and community building.”

Other initiatives that are making a positive difference, the attendees said, were those that connect youth with relatives and meaningful people in their lives, as well as programs in which non-profits and service agencies work together to provide more comprehensive support to children.

The Central City summary also determined what isn’t working: Governments too often fund programs that treat problems once they start, rather than preventing them; a lack of affordable housing can lead to poverty and families losing their children; and there isn’t enough transition planning for youth aging out of care, who experience disproportionately high levels of mental illness, substance use and unemployment.

Aunt Leah’s Place, a New Westminster charity, has been helping children who age out of care for three decades, but 10 years ago it added a new element: soliciting financial support from foundations, corporations, governments and others to obtain specialized housing.

Aunt Leah’s executive director Sarah Stewart in New Westminster.

“That was done based on trends we saw around more and more young people who are aging out becoming homeless,” said president and CEO Sarah Stewart. “What we didn’t plan for is the opioid crisis — that’s been a double whammy for these young people. … They are dealing with daily grief connected to people they know who have died.”

Aunt Leah’s provided services to 345 youth last year — 41 foster children under age 19, 208 who had aged out, and 96 of their babies and children.

“The reality for youth aging out of foster care today is a lot of hardship,” said Stewart, who also attended the Hope Dialogue session.

There has been positive change in the last few years, such as free tuition and financial support for foster children to attend post-secondary schools. The provincial government has also expanded a program that will fund more life-skills training for these youth.

But, Stewart said, more subsidized housing is needed, along with better co-ordination between government agencies — such as education, health and child welfare — to look out for this population.

‘Just do what parents do’

The key to supporting youth coming out of care is simple, she argues — just do what parents do.

“Aunt Leah’s tries to replicate what families are doing for their kids,” Stewart said. “Parents are providing tuition, transportation, food, housing well into their 20s, so that is what we are doing. And that is what government should be doing.”

Hawse, though, was cast adrift. After being asked to leave her last foster home, the then-16-year-old moved into an apartment run by Aunt Leah’s, where teenage foster children live on their own but have access to support and training programs.

Amber Hawse, 20, with daughter Delilah at Aunt Leah’s in New Westminster.

“For the first couple of nights that I was by myself, I cried because I wasn’t used to being in a house alone,” she said. “It’s very lonely.”

She received government funding of $70 a week for groceries, and learned to buy food on sale and collect grocery store points to get items for free. She also worked part-time while completing high school — a remarkable accomplishment, as less than half of foster children in B.C. graduate from Grade 12.

When she turned 19, Hawse was newly pregnant but had to leave her Aunt Leah’s apartment funded specifically for foster kids. She moved into emergency housing for several months before Aunt Leah’s could offer her a room in a building for new mothers.

She is getting by, for now, able to buy food, diapers and other necessities with the employment insurance and federal child tax she is collecting while off work with her baby. She hopes to return to her job at a local daycare, and to attend college next year to become a community and classroom support worker.

“I’ve been through a lot,” Hawse says. “But there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

Some solutions for the future

Central City’s Johnstone says there are reasons to be optimistic. For example, her organization, which is a major sponsor of Aunt Leah’s, is also backing a unique new youth initiative in Surrey that will have a school program and government social workers located in the same place as a sort of one-stop shop for vulnerable kids.

And there are other organizations, such as Vancouver Native Health, launching innovative programs in the Downtown Eastside designed to keep families together, she said.

The summary from the brainstorming session came up with some solutions to work toward, although nearly everyone interviewed for this story admits there is no obvious quick fix to the deep-rooted problem of child poverty.

The goals for the agencies include expanding programs to support the family as a whole, not just the child alone; enlisting graduates of youth programs to return as mentors; and creating more hubs where multiple services can be offered in one place to at-risk families.

At Family Services of Greater Vancouver, many clients in the family preservation program are parents trying to keep their kids after the children’s ministry documented some type of child protection concern. Staff help them with a myriad of things, ranging from housing, daycare and community resources, to help with trauma, domestic violence or addictions.

“For many of our families, poverty is an issue and that becomes a barrier for everything. They don’t have money for housing, food or your basic needs,” said Susan Walker, a family preservation manager, adding that stress affects everything from going to school to having a healthy family relationship. “Poverty stops people from moving forward.”

Karen Dickenson Smith (right), director of specialized family supports for Family Services of Greater Vancouver and Susan Walker, manager of clinic services for family preservation.

The agency, which also attended the Hope Dialogue session, has joined with others to advocate for major changes. Karen Dickenson Smith, director of specialized family supports, said these include embedding support workers into more “creative” types of housing, larger subsidized homes to allow extended families to live together, better compensation for foster parents, and higher wages in the social services sector to reduce turnover and ensure continuity of care for youth.

“System change takes time. We’ve seen some really encouraging developments, but we are a ways off and there is a lot of work to do,” said Dickenson Smith.

Added her colleague, Walker: “Poverty is not going to end overnight, but if you have subsidized housing and people are given the opportunity to get the work they need to do in life to get a job, that can allow children stability.”

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Dental care: Growing calls to put some teeth into health coverage

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When Gabrielle Peters saw a video last month of federal health critic Don Davies challenging the health minister to improve access to necessary dental care, she wondered if her plea had been heard.

Still sore from having the last four of her teeth pulled on Nov. 20 because she couldn’t afford any other option, Peters, a freelance writer in Vancouver, had taken to Twitter two weeks before the video was posted online to ask people why they felt dental care should be added to publicly funded health-care coverage 

Hundreds of replies poured in from around the globe. People shared stories of working in agony, losing loved ones to infection, draining savings accounts for treatment and being rushed to emergency rooms due to their lack of dental insurance.

A week after Davies’ video was posted, B.C. Premier John Horgan said his government was exploring how it might include dental care in the provincial health system.

Canadians often speak about the nation’s publicly funded health-care system with intense pride, yet its failure to include dental care is a cause for misery for many of the one-third of the population with no dental insurance.

The Canadian Dental Association reported in 2017 that 32 per cent of Canadians have no dental insurance. Its researchers found that those from lower-income families had worse oral health and had untreated disease more often. They visited the dentist less frequently, delayed visits and were more likely to decline recommended care due to cost.

Researchers at the University of Toronto analyzed decades of Statistics Canada surveys and reported in 2013 that only 49 per cent of middle-income Canadians had dental care coverage. About 34 per cent said they faced cost barriers to dental care in 2009, up from 13 per cent in 1996.

Made with Flourish

It is shameful so many people in a country boasting publicly funded health care live with pain, social isolation and poor nutrition because dental care isn’t part of the system, Peters said.

She believes policy-makers ought to recognize that dental care is health care.

“When we refuse to cover dental care, we are deciding to lower people’s quality of life. We are deciding to take a medical issue and let it snowball,” she said.

“Apply it to anything else: ‘We will cover everything but your left arm.’ People would say that’s ridiculous.”

An issue for millions of Canadians

A 2015 report by the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences found that about six million Canadians avoid visiting the dentist each year because of the cost.

Canada has one of the lowest rates of publicly funded dental care among OECD countries, at about six per cent, compared to 79 per cent in Finland, said the report.

Those most hurt by lack of access to dental care include people who are low income, Indigenous and disabled.

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u2018Iu2019ve long thought that dental care was a serious omission from our universal health-care system that doesn't make any sense from a public health or social justice point of view,

u2018Iu2019ve long thought that dental care was a serious omission from our universal health-care system that doesn’t make any sense from a public health or social justice point of view,” says Vancouver NDP MP Don Davies, his partyu2019s federal health critic. (Photo: Nick Procaylo, PNG)


With this in mind, Davies began pressing the issue of publicly funded basic dental care in 2015.

“I’ve long thought that dental care was a serious omission from our universal health-care system that doesn’t make any sense from a public health or social justice point of view,” the NDP MP for Vancouver-Kingsway said in a recent interview.

“Imagine when you have an open cavity or a rotting tooth or some form of abscess in your mouth, and you’re living with 100 per cent chronic, daily pain, and you couple that with, essentially, the inability to have healthy teeth in your work and daily life. It’s very debilitating.”

Davies said he hasn’t calculated the cost to fund dental care but believes it would ultimately benefit taxpayers, given that failing to fund preventative visits to the dentist can lead to more serious health problems, including heart disease, some requiring expensive trips to emergency rooms.

He is fighting to “put dental care on the agenda” and for his party to include it as part of its 2019 federal election platform.

“Once in a while you can put your thermometer into the body politic and take the temperature, and this one came out sizzling hot,” he said. “It’s basically a no-brainer.”

Horgan said in a year-end interview on Global News that his government was looking at including dental care in provincial health-care coverage and added, “hopefully we will be able to do something about it in the next budget.”

Soon after, he clarified it won’t be in the next budget, but said that when it comes to improving dental coverage, “we’re working on it every single day.”

At a news conference this month, provincial Health Minister Adrian Dix said he recognizes that dental care is insufficiently covered, and said his ministry is keeping a close eye on the federal NDP’s discussion about a national dental program.

“We’re already moving in that direction in advance of any action by the federal government or anyone else, and I think we’re going to continue to do that,” he said. “That’s certainly the direction we have from the premier.”

He pointed to his government’s recent work to boost dental coverage for children in the Healthy Kids program — generally for families with a net income of $42,000 or less — to $2,000 over two years from $1,400.

‘We can’t remove the jaw from the body’

Dwight Yochim, 56, is a middle-income earner whose private dental plan covers cleanings and basic procedures but doesn’t cover treatment for a painful condition he was diagnosed with two years ago.

Yochim, an executive director for two non-profits in Coquitlam, suffers from temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). His jaw is “locked” because of a slipped disc so that he can open his mouth only a few centimetres, he said.

“If I go to eat a burger, I have to squish it down,” he said. “It’s constant pain.”

Dwight Yochim’s private dental plan covers cleanings and basic procedures, but not the temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) in his jaw that was diagnosed two years ago. The Coquitlam non-profits executive director says it will cost him about $5,000 out of pocket to treat his condition. (Photo: Jason Payne, PNG)

Dwight Yochim’s private dental plan covers cleanings and basic procedures, but not the temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) in his jaw that was diagnosed two years ago. The Coquitlam non-profits executive director says it will cost him about $5,000 out of pocket to treat his condition. (Photo: Jason Payne, PNG)

Jason Payne /


Yochim said it will cost him about $5,000 out of pocket to treat his condition, according to a recent estimate. He is shopping around for a better price, but in the meantime suffers through occasional periods of agony, which he dulls with acetaminophen.

He considers himself lucky to have any coverage at all but wants to see dental care added to the provincial health-care system. He has emailed Dix asking why this hasn’t been done already.

“It’s your basic health,” Yochim said. “I’m thinking about some of the people who don’t have dental plans. How do they get around and deal with dental pain? Because it’s excruciating sometimes.”

Bruce Wallace, an associate professor at the University of Victoria’s School of Social Work, was lead author of a 2015 study on oral health among people experiencing social and health inequities, He said that when he started researching dental health-care issues in the late ’90s, lack of accessibility to dental care was mostly seen as a problem for the poor, but that has changed to include middle-income people with insufficient coverage.

Made with Flourish

“Now, it’s much more that people are looking at the issue as something that’s really affecting millions of Canadians that just don’t have access to employer benefits,” he said.

“The oral health-care system might look like it’s working well for the general public, but what we also know is that the single model of dentistry that we have — the private business model — is not working well for most people who have low incomes and who might face other barriers to health care,” he said.

Wallace believes B.C. should move publicly funded dental-care programs away from the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction and to the Ministry of Health, as well as integrate services with primary health care.

“We can’t remove the jaw from the body,” Wallace said. “I don’t think we can remove oral health care from our health-care system. The blood that runs through our jaw and our mouth goes to the rest of our bodies, through our heart and our organs, and that could impact our overall health care.”

Study co-author Dr. Annette Browne, a professor at the University of B.C.’s School of Nursing, is impressed that Horgan is discussing covering dental care.

“It’s the working poor, people who live in relative poverty who are piecing together part-time jobs, often with no dental benefits, who frequently have no dental insurance coverage,” she said.

It’s that group of people who are most often reporting poor oral health and visits to dentists only in emergencies.”

Social and economic impact

The staff at REACH Dental Clinic on Commercial Drive in Vancouver, part of a non-profit community health centre, constantly receive calls from people asking about prices, said clinic manager Maria Botero.

About 40 per cent of the clinic’s 3,300 patients have private insurance, which helps subsidize care for its 60 per cent of patients who don’t have such coverage.

“Some of the patients, they come, they get an estimate, but they can’t do it,” she said.

“Or they do just one thing that is really urgent and then the next time they come, it’s for something really urgent again. Many times, they get extractions because it’s too late. When that happens, it’s very sad.”

Maria Botero (left, with executive director Nicole LeMire) is manager of the REACH Dental Clinic on Commercial Drive, part of a non-profit community health centre that constantly receive calls from people asking about prices, people who ultimately decide not to get their dental problems addressed. (Photo: Arlen Redekop, PNG)

Maria Botero (left, with executive director Nicole LeMire) is manager of the REACH Dental Clinic on Commercial Drive, part of a non-profit community health centre that constantly receive calls from people asking about prices, people who ultimately decide not to get their dental problems addressed. (Photo: Arlen Redekop, PNG)

Arlen Redekop /


Botero said people who lose teeth can’t chew, eat, speak and socialize like they could before, and often suffer from lower self-esteem.

Anita Simon of Chilliwack, 48, understands the connection between dental health and self-esteem.

When she became sick a few years ago with chronic health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder and conversion disorder, strong medications and a lack of dental care destroyed most of her teeth.

“I’m walking around with broken teeth, abscessed teeth, in chronic pain,” said Simon, who doesn’t have dental benefits through her job as a part-time taxi dispatcher.

People make assumptions about her lifestyle because she is missing teeth, leaving her feeling ashamed and angry about her situation.

‘I don't want to be a cranky person. My mantra has always been to choose joy,’ says Anita Simon. ‘Well, joy's pretty hard to choose right now.’ (Photo: Jason Payne, PNG)

‘I don’t want to be a cranky person. My mantra has always been to choose joy,’ says Anita Simon. ‘Well, joy’s pretty hard to choose right now.’ (Photo: Jason Payne, PNG)

Jason Payne /


“I don’t want to be a cranky person. My mantra has always been to choose joy,” she said. “Well, joy’s pretty hard to choose right now.”

Simon is on disability assistance and while the ministry put $480 toward her dentures after she had to have her upper teeth extracted, she had to pay the remaining $1,800, she said.

She needs to come up with another $2,000 for a bottom bridge. Before the bridge is installed, she needs to pay for two extractions and several fillings.

Until she can afford those procedures, she will remain on a liquid diet and take expensive supplements to avoid causing further damage and to meet her nutritional needs.

She is urging government to immediately fund public dental care.

Anita Simon prepares a meal with a blender in her Chilliwack home. Simon takes expensive supplements to avoid causing further damage and to meet her nutritional needs. (Photo: Jason Payne, PNG)

Anita Simon prepares a meal with a blender in her Chilliwack home. Simon takes expensive supplements to avoid causing further damage and to meet her nutritional needs. (Photo: Jason Payne, PNG)

Jason Payne /


“I’m a single person on a very limited income, really struggling to do this,” she said.

“But even if you are a two-person family working on this, it is a huge expense for anybody. And it’s not cosmetic, like people think. It is really for your health. Your heart health is affected by your teeth and, I don’t care what anybody says, your mental health is, too.”

The B.C. Poverty Reduction Coalition has met with people on income assistance who face the stigma that comes with poor dental health when they try to pull themselves out of poverty through work, said Trish Garner, a community organizer with the group.

“Many of those folks are expected to look for work and if you don’t have dental care, and your teeth look a certain way, then that really impacts your employability,” she said. “Your career horizons are definitely thwarted.”

While people on income assistance may qualify for basic dental coverage, the fees that government will pay for treatment don’t always align with the prices dentists actually charge, Garner said.

For example, the B.C. Dental Association’s suggested fee guide recommends $456 for a single root canal, $102 for a basic filling and $44 for a new patient exam, while the government’s fee allowances for the same treatments are $254, $54 and $24, respectively. People on income or disability assistance typically get up to $1,000 in coverage every two years.

“We would definitely support the province and federal government in taking on dental care as a significant issue and bringing it into our idea of the provision of universal health care,” Garner said.

‘If you don't have dental care, and your teeth look a certain way, then that really impacts your employability,’ says Trish Garner (pictured in 2012) of the B.C. Poverty Reduction Coalition. (Photo: Arlen Redekop, PNG files)

‘If you don’t have dental care, and your teeth look a certain way, then that really impacts your employability,’ says Trish Garner (pictured in 2012) of the B.C. Poverty Reduction Coalition. (Photo: Arlen Redekop, PNG files)

Arlen Redekop /

PNG files

Dr. Ray Grewal, president of the B.C. Dental Association, said 65 per cent of British Columbians have some sort of dental coverage and the association is striving to improve things for the other 35 per cent.

The association is working with the province to support non-profit clinics, some of which are staffed with volunteer dentists, and it is pushing for fluoridated water to combat dental decay, Grewal said.

When it comes to expanding publicly funded coverage, Grewal said B.C.’s most vulnerable patients — such as people with disabilities, children, seniors and those living in poverty — should be prioritized.

“The premier’s comments were great, but I think now we’re trying to figure out where we are with those comments,” he said.

“I think it’s really to just focus on specific groups (for whom) we can really improve their overall oral health.”

Teeth extraction ‘devastating’

Peters has some coverage for dental care through B.C. disability assistance, but it didn’t cover the treatments that might have saved her last four teeth.

She suffers from an autoimmune disease that requires her to take strong medications and causes gastrointestinal dysfunction, including reflux that brings stomach acid into her mouth.

She had most of her teeth extracted in 2010.

“By the time it became clear that this was a serious problem, the option that was left for me, with the coverage that I have, was extraction,” she said. “It’s devastating. It’s hard to describe.”

Peters recently led work with the City of Vancouver’s Active Transportation Policy Council to increase sidewalk accessibility, and pushed the city’s park board to install a mat to make the beach at English Bay accessible for wheelchairs.

But after losing her teeth, she’s uncertain she’ll continue her public work and volunteerism.

“I’m ashamed and embarrassed, and I don’t even know why I’m ashamed, because I don’t know what I could have done differently,” she said.

“I’m even more angry that I’ve been put in this position.”

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Town Talk: Revisiting folk from 2009 who helped bring about today

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2009 began somewhat in reverse to 2019. Back then, newly inaugurated Barack Obama occupied the White House and signs of a severe economic recession were declining. Here in B.C., gang violence increased dramatically just as we celebrated being assigned the 2010 Winter Olympics. Principal bidder Jack Poole would die before those low-snow games began. Famed architect Arthur Erickson perished, too, as would two of the 35 folk (and one fast ferry) portrayed on this page. Still, they and the 33 others revisited from 2009 columns contributed in still-evident ways to the character of the province we cherish.

Nanaimo-born singer-pianist Diana Krall had friend Sir Elton John join a benefit concert for Vancouver General Hospital’s Leukemia Bone Marrow Transplant program in memory of her mother Adella who succumbed to multiple myeloma in 2002.

Malcolm Parry /


Gwen Point accompanied husband Steven, B.C.’s first Aboriginal lieutenant governor, at the 64th-annual Garrison Military Ball that no longer entailed the presentation of serving or retired warriors’ debutante daughters.

Malcolm Parry /


Restaurateur chefs Rob Feenie, Tojo Hidekazu, Michel Jacob, Pino Posteraro and Thomas Haas participated in the Senza Frontiere dinner that benefitted the Chef’s Table Society’s bursary and scholarship programs.

Malcolm Parry /


Nimisha Mukerji and Philip Lyall premiered their 65_Red Roses documentary about cystic fibrosis patient Eva Markvoort who, despite a double-lung transplant, would die in 2010 but still spur medical-research fundraising.

Malcolm Parry /


Kasi Lubin and Shauna Hardy Mishaw kicked off the eighth-annual Whistler Film Festival they’d founded with a $30,000 fundraising and that, under Hardy Mishaw, has become a fixture that bow screens 90 international movies.

Malcolm Parry /


Cognoscenti already knew that one way to get vehicles like this 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 B Coupe into Pebble Beach concourse d’elegance contention was to have them restored by RX Autoworks’ Mike Taylor and Ian Davey.

Malcolm Parry /


Graduate student Hong Zhu was the first to take up residency when Prospero International Realty Inc. chair Bob Lee opened the 81-room MBA House at the University of B.C.’s Robert H. Lee Graduate School of Business.

Malcolm Parry /


Recently retired from the National Ballet where fellow principal dancer Karen Kain called her “the iron butterfly,” Chan Hon Goh prepared to lead the Goh Ballet company that parents Choo Chat Goh and Lin Yee Goh founded.

Malcolm Parry /


With four PuSh International Arts Festivals behind him, founder Norman Armour prepared to welcome 30,000 ticket buyers to a 21-show season and to continue doing so until his retirement from a much-grown event in 2018.

Malcolm Parry /


One year after the institution he headed became Emily Carr University of Art + Design, president Ron Burnett told students that up to 96 percent of them could expect to “become what you imagine, from an artists to an entrepreneur.”

Malcolm Parry /


B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation Crystal Ball committee member Sherry Doman welcomed friend and 20-times ball supporter Indra Sangha who, though now terminally ill with ever-spreading cancers, said: “I had to come.”

Malcolm Parry /


Rev. Mpho Tutu heard then-nine-year-old pianist Jeffrey Luo play Mozart and Chopin airs at a benefit for her archbishop-father’s Desmond Tutu Charitable Foundation and the Dali Lama Centre for Peace and Education.

Malcolm Parry /


Having starred in the multi-Genies-winning The Necessities of Life, star Natar Ungalaaq flew from Igloolik, Nunavut for a screening attended by director Benoit Pilon’s former classmate, city-based filmmaker Lynne Stopkewich.

Malcolm Parry /


Michaela Morris and Michelle Bouffard’s now-dissolved House Wine Enterprises firm was a go-to for many seeking wine know-how and especially those with 2,000-bottle cellars that needed supervision and enhancement.

Malcolm Parry /


Concord Pacific chief Terry Hui and Westbank Projects Corp’s Ian Gillespie were already big-time developers when they checked what architect Walter Francl had done for Bob Rennie’s 97-year-old Wing Sang Building.

Malcolm Parry /


Ask A Woman event-planning co-principal Tammy Preast lifted 14-year-old Casey at a gala-benefit for the Love On A Leash firm she founded that would later raise funds for such organizations as the Dhana Metta Rescue Society.

Malcolm Parry /


Brent Comber rescued water-borne forest debris to carve imposing artworks and Obakki clothing firm principal Treana Peake raised funds to construct water wells and permanent schools for those living without either in South Sudan.

Malcolm Parry /


On the last day of the year, a marine-transport vessel carried away a Pacificat fast ferry, one of three that failed to meet operational and economic demands and that, after long mothballing, were sold for pennies on the dollar.

Malcolm Parry /


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