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Our Community: Fun triathlon aids a good cause

Everybody is a winner at the upcoming Fort Street Cycle Beginner Tri for MS, a non-competitive and fun version of a triathlon. This is the second year of the event, which takes place next Sunday.
Barbara Fosdick, a Second World War veteran who is on the committee planning for the God's Acre ceremony May 29, holds a picture of herself taken in 1940.

Everybody is a winner at the upcoming Fort Street Cycle Beginner Tri for MS, a non-competitive and fun version of a triathlon.

This is the second year of the event, which takes place next Sunday. Unlike a regular triathlon, this is a non-timed event suitable for beginner triathletes or those returning to the sport after an absence. The main goal is for an event with a fun and supportive atmosphere.

While participants are having fun, the proceeds from registration and a fundraising campaign benefit the South and Central Island Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada. Last year the event sold out quickly, with the group of athletes, volunteers and supporters raising more than $15,000.

One of the competitors last year was Courtney Surdu, who suffers from the disease.

“I was inactive and slightly overweight when I was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS,” said Surdu, 26, who became a mother last year. “I used the disease as an excuse to get off my butt. I like to think that my actions have contributed to an improvement to my health. I feel better and recover quicker after my bouts [with MS] because I am stronger.”

She is a member of TriStars Training, a company that prepares clients to tackle a triathlon. She is one of three MS sufferers who train with the group and who expect to be in the upcoming event.

Next Sunday’s event is akin to a sprint triathlon distance, with a 500-metre swim, 17.5-kilometre bike ride and a four-km run.

Registration is $65. Deadline is Wednesday. The transition section of the race opens at 6:30 a.m. with the first wave of athletes starting at 7:30 a.m. Prizes will be awarded at about 10:30 a.m. after the last competitor returns. The event takes place at the Saanich Commonwealth Place, 4636 Elk Lake Dr. Limited parking is available. People are encouraged to carpool if possible. The event is presented by TriStars Training. For more information, go to


Vigil organizer seeks military women

A Second World War veteran hopes she will see a few more women at the annual Candlelight Tribute at God’s Acre Cemetery next month.

The annual vigil at the 146-year-old cemetery honours those who served and fell with all branches of the armed forces over the years. On May 29, at the end of a 45-minute ceremony, past and present military personnel will pass candles to Cadets, Scouts and Girl Guides to place on the final resting places of over 1,000 veterans.

Barbara Fosdick will be there to remember. But she also on a mission to make sure people remember the contribution of women who fought — and sometimes died — beside men in conflicts from the Second World War to more recent campaigns in the Arabian Gulf, Bosnia and Afghanistan.

“The role of women in the armed forces seems never to have been fully recognized or appreciated,” said Fosdick, 89, who served with the Royal Artillery during the Battle of Britain. “If we don’t recognize them now, it will be too late.”

In the Second World War, more than 40,000 Canadian women served in the three services. More than 2,000 were attached to the Canadian Women’s Army Corps as well as contingents from the Women’s Canadian Royal Navy Service, the Royal Canadian Air Force Women’s Division and more than 2,800 Nursing Sisters who served with the army in field hospitals close to the fighting.

Fosdick knows many retired in Victoria over the years but, because of privacy rules, is unable to reach them.

“I would like to extend a special invitation to all women veterans who have served their country, particularly those from the Second World War,” she said.

Fosdick served as a spotter for an anti-aircraft battery consisting of 4.5-inch guns. She still remembers the first plane she brought down, a Junkers 88 twin-engined bomber.

She said the war, in a way, opened the door to women today. Because the majority of the men were away fighting, women were called upon to work in the fire brigade, in munitions factories, in payroll, became drivers and, in her case, augment men in combat positions.

She doesn’t know why she was assigned to anti-aircraft duty although, during basic training, she showed a natural aptitude for recognizing objects. This skill proved useful when she was tasked with distinguishing between friend and foe from among the more than 200 different aircraft in the sky.

The work was stressful, but people kept their sense of humour. She recalls times when her skill at identification wasn’t necessary, because the sky would be filled with enemy aircraft. The commander would order: “Gunners, fire at will.” There would always be a joker who would answer, much to the annoyance of the commander, “But sir, which one is Will?”

People who know of women veterans in the area can contact Fosdick at 250-385-5996.


Learn more about Blenkinsop watershed

Residents, farmers and other stakeholders with an interest in the aquatic future of the Blenkinsop Creek watershed are invited to a meeting hosted by the Peninsula Streams Society tomorrow.

The community meeting is to determine if people wish to develop a community group that focuses on the short and long-term watershed planning and stream channel restoration of the watershed.

People can learn about volunteer opportunities and join the Friends of Blenkinsop Creek Watershed Stewardship group to help with future planning and restoration activities.

The meeting runs 7 to 9 p.m. in the gymnasium of Cordova Bay Elementary School, 5238 Cordova Bay Rd. People wishing to attend this community meeting should email


Tourism community pitches in

As part of an annual event every Earth Day, members of the Victoria Sustainable Tourism Alliance (ViSTA) collected more than 21,000 pieces of garbage in just one hour this week.

Tuesday was Earth Day, the world’s largest and most celebrated environmental event. Every year, more than six million Canadians join a billion people in more than 170 countries in staging events and projects that address local environmental issues.

For the last three years, local teams from various tourism-related businesses have engaged in a friendly competition to see how much garbage they can collect, leaving behind cleaner-than-usual city streets, parks and waterfront.

“We’re always thrilled to see our tourism community come together to help make Victoria an even more beautiful city,” said Avril Matthews, ViSTA partner and director of sales and marketing for Inn at Laurel Point. “The majority of the garbage in our city is so small that it is often hard to find, but every effort helps to ensure that our city remains one of the most beautiful spaces in Canada — especially on Earth Day.”

She has reason to be proud. Her hotel’s team were the winners of the competition and were awarded the coveted Golden Garbage Award, presented by Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin.

While not required, the majority of teams dressed up, ranging from corporate wear to themed-costumes. Perhaps the most eye-catching was Eagle Wing Tours, who adopted a Neptune and mermaid theme, resulting in many pictures taken by tourists and locals alike while they cleaned up a section of beach along Dallas Road.

In addition to the collection of garbage, the group partnered with the City of Victoria Parks and Recreation department and to leave behind Nature Reboot Kits, comprised of a flower pot with native plants and some “planted” bonuses provided by each team, sprouting from the pot.

Organizers will share the location of each Nature Reboot Kit via social media, using the hashtag #CleanUpYYJ and at


Author to speak on Pearson’s legacy

Pearson College is hosting a lecture by Andrew Cohen, award-winning journalist and best-selling author on Tuesday.

Cohen will be talking about the life of Lester B. Pearson — from his involvement with NATO and the UN and his peace-brokering during the 1957 Suez Crisis — a feat that earned him the Nobel Peace Prize — to his two terms as prime minister. It was during this period that he introduced Medicare, the Canada Pension Plan, the Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, the Auto Pact and our current flag.

Free admission. The lecture runs 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Max Bell Theatre on the Pearson College campus, 650 Pearson College Dr., Metchosin.

For more information, go to


Tree firm aids Children’s Wish

King Tree Service, a company that serves Greater Victoria, has announced it will donate 10 per cent of the gross value of every job to the Children’s Wish Foundation.

“This is an ongoing community-building commitment from King Tree and as long as we are in business, the contributions to the children will continue,” said Paul Lapointe, president of the company. “Together we can make wishes come true.”

The Children’s Wish Foundation strives to grant wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses. For more information, go to