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Our Community: Put a lock on love for the United Way

A local charity will soon feel the love of romantic couples, thanks to the installation of the city’s first love-locks sculpture at Uptown Shopping Centre.

A local charity will soon feel the love of romantic couples, thanks to the installation of the city’s first love-locks sculpture at Uptown Shopping Centre.

Victoria was recently named Canada’s most romantic city for the fourth year in a row by Amazon. To celebrate the achievement, the shopping centre has installed a two-metre-tall heart in its park.

The shopping centre is using the sculpture to raise awareness and funds for the United Way’s Raise-the-Red campaign during February.

“Love is big at Uptown, and we wanted to find a way to celebrate not only romance but all kinds of love in all kinds of relationships from best friends to couples and families,” said Kristy Lowes, the centre’s marketing director. “We thought this tradition would be something fun and special that our guests can enjoy, and we’re excited to have a permanent display of love here at Uptown.”

Bright red padlocks will be available from Uptown’s guest services for $12, with proceeds donated to the United Way.

Love locks, a tradition believed to date back as far as ancient China, have been padlocked onto chains, gates and bridges around the world by couples who want to lock their love forever and throw away the key.

“Many people write their names or a special sentiment on their love locks, and we thought it would add something special to also provide people with an opportunity to give to an important local cause with their lock purchase,” Lowes said.

The centre will also give away a prize package, including a $500 Uptown gift card and two-night stay at Magnolia Hotel and Spa.

People may enter until Feb. 29 via Instagram or Facebook using the hashtag #lovelocksuptown with a story of the craziest thing they’ve done for love. For more information, go to

Used fitness clothing can help Anawim House

Give and receive the gift of fitness when you donate a bag of new or gently used fitness apparel to a unique fundraiser for residents of Anawim House.

Fitness on the Go is a new business that sees fitness trainers making house calls. They deliver one-on-one instruction on weight loss, older-adult fitness, osteoporosis management, strength training and more.

Until the end of March, the Vancouver Island franchise will give donors a $100 gift card for every bag of fitness apparel they receive. The gift cards can be used toward personal training sessions or packages.

The clothing collected will be distributed to residents of Anawim House who sign up for fitness classes offered by the company’s instructors, starting in April.

“It’s a win-win situation,” said Kylie Rencher, who owns the franchise rights for Vancouver Island. “Our clients get $100 off their training and we create opportunities for Victoria’s underprivileged to have access to health and fitness.”

The fundraiser runs until March 31. A fitness instructor will pick up donations at your home or place of work. Donations of apparel, including running shoes, and cash are welcome.

Anawim House is dedicated to overcoming poverty by being compassionate companions for the poor and providing for their needs. For more information, call 250-507-2650 or go to or

Awards cap Black History Month

Black History Month concludes with the presentation of the third annual Black History Month Community Recognition Awards during the event’s Closing Gala on Saturday.

The awards, hosted by the Victoria African and Caribbean Cultural Society, is designed to honour residents of Lower Vancouver Island. It recognizes those who have been a model for the community or who have made significant contributions to the social, political, religious, intellectual and economic development of the black community.

This year’s recipients are Esi Edugyan, Sean Solbert, Yolande Jonhston, Pamela Sylvan, Fran Morrison, Atong Deng, Storm William and Yasin Kiraga.

Victoria’s acting mayor, Charlayne Thornton-Joe, and Rob Fleming, Victoria-Swan Lake MLA, will present the awards.

The ceremony is open to the public, with admission by donation ($5 suggested). The dress code is black tie or traditional African attire. The event starts at 6:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the Cedar Hill Recreation Centre, 3220 Cedar Hill Rd. For more information, contact Pulchérie Mboussi at 250-885-0715 or email [email protected].

Get scared for a good cause

Local business Horror Escape will donate all profits from its business on National Bullying Day on Wednesday.

If all goes well, the company, which offers rooms where participants find clues and solve puzzles to escape in 45 minutes or less, will be able to donate up to $1,500. For more information, go to

Refugee sponsors seek more volunteers

A local group formed to help refugees from Syria is hosting a community meeting today, with the hope of attracting volunteers.

The group is called 2 Saints and Friends. The two saints refers to St. Peter’s and St. David’s Anglican churches. The friends are community
volunteers, some with no religious affiliation, who wish to help sponsor refugees in the Victoria area.  

The group is seeking more volunteers immediately, as they may have a government-approved family ready soon for sponsorship. They are looking at taking one fast-track family soon and another couple in a couple of years, after their paperwork is done.

The group is responsible for supplying volunteers to help with finding housing, household furniture and supplies, food, clothing, welcoming, translating, orientating and helping the family settle. They also need people for fundraising, a bookkeeper (to act as treasurer) and possible employers.  

The community meeting will take place between 2:30 and 4 p.m. today at St. Peter’s Anglican Church, 3939 St. Peter’s Rd. For more information, email [email protected].

Chamber music supports Syrian families

The Rotary Club of Oak Bay, in conjunction with the Die Mahler Chamber Ensemble is organizing a fundraising concert to assist literacy and Syrian refugees in Greater Victoria on Saturday.

The concert, conducted by Grammy-nominee (and Rotarian) Pablo Diemecke, will include works by J.S. Bach, Antonio Corelli, Antonio Vivaldi and others.

Tickets are $35 (of which $10 will go to the Syrian Refugee Fund) and are available at the McPherson Box Office and Ivy’s Bookstore. Senior and student discounts are available. The concert starts at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at St. Mary the Virgin Church, 1701 Elgin Rd., Oak Bay. For more information, call 250-658-1167 or [email protected]

Realtors give to intercultural society

The Vancouver Island Real Estate Board recently donated more than $1,170 to the Cowichan Intercultural Society’s Syrian Refugee Fund.

The donation will be used to help support refugees resettling in the Cowichan Valley.

“Our board and members believe that everyone deserves to live in a safe and healthy community,” said Jason Finlayson, past-president of the organization that represents real estate agents in the area. “Being in a position to offer sanctuary to families who are fleeing Syria is an incredible feeling. We hope that our donation will help make life a little easier for the refugees.”

The Cowichan Intercultural Society offers a variety of services for refugees, including translation, interpretation, trauma support, employment support, settlement assistance, free English classes and professional mentoring.

So far, two families have arrived as privately sponsored refugees. Another seven private sponsorships are in the works, and as many as 12 families are hoping to resettle in the Cowichan Valley as government-assisted refugees.

The donation falls under the Realtors Care umbrella, which celebrates philanthropic work performed by Canadian Realtors, real estate boards and broker offices. Between 2012 and 2014, the organization has donated more than $71.6 million to various charities.

For more information on the Cowichan Intercultural Society Syrian Refugee Fund, visit

To donate, visit

Peninsula Singers raise funds for music therapy

The Peninsula Singers recently donated $3,000 to the Music Therapy Program of the Saanich Peninsula Hospital Foundation.

The singers donate proceeds from their two concert series (three concerts at Christmas and three in the spring) to the foundation.

“The Peninsula Singers move from strength to strength, always giving a great performance and providing such joy for audience members,” said Karen Morgan, executive director of the foundation. “They have a lot in common with our music therapists, who continuously experiment with new ways to ease pain and suffering — and who give great joy to patients at our hospital.”  

In the past 10 years, the singers have raised almost $37,000 for the foundation.

For more information, go to

[email protected]