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Our Community: One wheel, 5,000 kilometres

Joseph Boutilier is about to embark on a cycling trip across the country. But what makes this journey different from others is the fact that this one is on one wheel.

Joseph Boutilier is about to embark on a cycling trip across the country. But what makes this journey different from others is the fact that this one is on one wheel.

The Victoria man is going to pedal a unicycle from Victoria to Ottawa — a 5,000-kilometre, five-month journey — to draw awareness to climate change and justice for First Nations.

While the mode of transportation is unusual enough, so is the fact that he is new to balancing on one wheel.

“On this trip I wanted to connect with ordinary Canadians along the way,” said Boutilier, who was born and raised in Victoria. “I found people are naturally attracted to a unicycle. This will give me more of a chance to break the ice and build rapport with people I meet.”

He says his goal is to engage people along the way in discussions on Canada’s role on climate change and First Nations issues.

The 23-year-old expects to travel an average of 35 kilometres a day, taking secondary roads along the way. He says it might be a very interesting journey because the law is grey when it comes to travelling on one wheel. He will be travelling at about the speed of a jogger, but will not ride on sidewalks.

He plans to begin his journey April 5 at 7 a.m. at Mile Zero. He will blog his daily experiences along the way and people can follow him on social media. For more information, go to


Homeless pets need warmth, too

The sight of short-haired dogs shivering from the cold has inspired a Victoria woman to plan a food drive to augment the efforts of other organizations and professionals.

Natalie Fairbrother’s office window overlooks the Our Place shelter. Moved by the sight of dogs unable to get out of the cold, she has taken it upon herself to fashion warm, waterproof jackets for the pets of street people.

“Some are donated and others I make out of rain ponchos bought at a pet store, which I line with fleece,” said the amateur photographer and animal lover. “I just couldn’t stand the sight of some of the dogs, soaked to the bone, shivering.”

The pet owners are grateful for the jackets. Because they are living in poverty, few can afford any luxuries for their four-legged companions. But some can’t live without them, either.

“For some of the people, that dog is the only thing that is constant in their lives,” Fairbrother said.

Our Place also recognizes the importance of pets to their owners.

“Pets are an important part of many of our clients,” said Grant McKenzie, director of communication at Our Place. “They offer companionship and, for people living on the streets, a source of protection. But mainly, having a pet can stave off the loneliness that comes from social isolation.”

The centre works with Vets for Pets, a group of veterinarians who come to the shelter every second Thursday of each month to attend to the medical needs of people’s pets. The group, which has been providing free vet services for the past five years, sees an average of 70 pets every time they put on a clinic.

The Sooke Animal Food and Rescue Society is currently operating the Boneless Project, where the public is encouraged to sponsor a pet in need. They also collect donated food which is stored on the shelter’s premises.

The pet food is distributed at the same time as food for their masters.

McKenzie said that Our Place has had services for pets as long as he can remember. He said that while Fairbrother’s efforts will likely duplicate others, he believes the action will help promote awareness of the need.

While the stock of dog food has been adequate this year, the society has been short of cat food lately. He attributes the shortfall to people accustomed to seeing street people with their dogs and not realizing many have felines by choice or the fact some properties don’t allow dogs.

Fairbrother’s food and pet supply drive runs April 10 from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Our Place, 919 Pandora Ave. For more information, email her at For donations for veterinary services, contact For the Sooke Animal Food and Rescue Society, go to For more information about Our Place, go to


Humane Society closer to East Sooke site

An anonymous Vancouver Island donor has put the Victoria Humane Society’s fundraising campaign $100,000 closer to its $1-million goal to help secure a 4.5-acre kennel-zoned site in East Sooke. Funds raised will go toward securing the property, assisting with site improvement and animal-rescue operations.

The donation by the individual, in honour of her late dog Murdoch, underscores the importance of donors.

“Donors are the heart and soul of the Victoria Humane Society,” said Penny Stone, executive director. “We are able to do this work because of the support of caring, community-minded people such as this donor, and the others who have contributed to date.”

The society has partnered with Trapeze Communications and the Times Colonist to deliver the Let the Love Begin fundraising campaign, which started today. Other initiatives include a crowd-funding campaign on that has raised $46,000 to date. As well, people are donating through the society’s Facebook page and through its website.

In its first four months of operation, the society has rescued more than 130 animals and paid more than $50,000 for medical care, including spaying and neutering. For more information, go to


Antique fundraiser without the roadshow

The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria is hosting a fundraiser that appeals to both antique and auction fans.

At the event — called What’s it Worth? — people can bring up to three portable items and receive a verbal appraisal from an accredited Kilshaw’s appraiser.

The event also includes a silent auction and the opportunity to bid on an array of items including a Tim Hoey painting, a set of bedding from Western Allergy Services and a variety of gift certificates from Baden-Baden, Thrifty’s, Rogers’ Chocolates, Sea Cider and others.

“We are thrilled to present this event for the first time,” said event co-chairwomen Anne Russell and Patti-Anne Kay.

All funds raised support the AGGV’s exhibitions and programming.

Tickets for the appraisal event are $50 if you would like to have your valuables assessed, and $20 just to observe. There are two sessions: 10 a.m. to noon and 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday. The silent auction starts 10 a.m. Tuesday and concludes at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the gallery, 1040 Moss St. For more information, go to


You can make B.C. Day even better

Send in your picture or film of beautiful British Columbia and your work can be featured at this summer’s B.C. Day celebration.

Celebrate B.C. Day 2014 is accepting submissions from photographers and filmmakers for the Capture B.C. photo and Through the B.C. Lens film exhibits.

Amateurs and professionals alike are encouraged to make submissions that recognize and celebrate the province’s diverse cultural, social or geographical history. All submissions must be appropriate for family audiences. Film submissions should be documentary in nature.

The winning entries will be part of the entertainment and activities at St. Ann’s Academy National Historic Site on B.C. Day, Aug. 4.

Last year’s exhibits featured images and films by selected artists from 15 B.C. communities. The Royal B.C. Museum also provided photographs from its archives collection.

For more information, go to


CFUV fundraiser celebrates 30 years

CFUV, the University of Victoria campus community radio station, kicked off its week-long Fundrive fundraising campaign on Friday. The station provides UVic students and volunteers with training in the operation of a broadcast radio facility.

This is the station’s 30th year of operation.

On-air volunteers will ask for pledges from listeners to support CFUV’s work. The goal this year is to raise $25,000, which will be used to repair, replace and upgrade broadcast equipment. Funds raised on Friday will support the Women’s Radio Collective. For more information, go to

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