Elana Ilott felt like she had been struck by lightning when doctors told her that the baby boy she was expecting — her first — wasn’t going to survive childbirth.
Her midwife connected her to an organization that supports families struggling with infertility, pregnancy and infant loss, something she credits with helping her survive that chapter of her life.
Today, she is on the board of the Pacific Perinatal Foundation, formerly known as the Healing Hearts Foundation, which is hosting its second fundraising Healing Hearts five-kilometre run/two-kilometre walk at Royal Roads University on Sept. 23.
“It was the worst news in my life. My boy was 21 weeks old when I lost him in 2016,” said Ilott, 36. “The experience was so isolating due to the lack of grief literacy in our society — we just don’t do death and dying. Fortunately, through the Healing Hearts Foundation at that time, I was able to deal with the complexity of loss, from understanding my feelings to reading the autopsy report.”
According to data supplied by the foundation, one in four people experience miscarriage or pregnancy loss and one in six struggle with infertility. With silence surrounding fertility, miscarriage and pregnancy loss, families are left with dealing with their grief in isolation.
Because there is no public funding for support services for bereaved families, the event is a fundraiser for the Victoria-based foundation, with a goal of raising $55,000 to go toward providing counselling, programs and other support.
The event is also an opportunity for people who have “walked in the same shoes” to connect with one another and build a community.
Talking about the loss is an important part of the healing process, Ilott said.
“We had one participant in the group who had lost her child about 35 years ago. When her daughter experienced her own loss, it opened up old wounds,” said Ilott, who subsequently had another son, Phoenix, who is almost six now.
“You need to talk about it to heal. While time may lessen the pain, the loss of a child never goes away. You may move forward, but you will never leave the past behind.”
Registration is now open for the event, which runs 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 23 at Royal Roads University, 2005 Sooke Rd.
• For more information, or to register, go to pacificperinatalfoundation.com
‘Hideous’ sculpture sought for giant garage sale
Ruth McAllister is looking out for a “hideous” terracotta sculpture featuring a woman with a planter pot on her back as she hosts a fundraising Giant Garage Sale to benefit the La Leche League, on her Topaz Avenue driveway, Sunday and Monday.
McAllister, a La Leche leader for 30 years, hosts the sale to raise funds for the organization’s advocacy, education and training new mothers on how to breastfeed.
The garage sale is recognized by La Leche League Canada as the non-profit group’s single largest fundraiser, collecting $4,600 last year.
Every year, McAllister collects hundreds of donated items to sell at the event, but this one item stuck out.
“It was really weird and hideous, but someone bought it,” said McAllister, who has hosted the annual sale for about 13 years. “The next year, there it was again — whoever bought it donated it. It sold once again, but I have an eye out to see if it turns up in the collection bin again.”
Unlike most garage sales, nothing is priced.
“I ask people to pay me what they think is fair and everything is going towards a good cause,” she said. “If they can’t afford an item, I tell them that at 3 p.m. on Monday, when I wrap up the sale, everything left over is free.”
The garage sale runs 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday and Monday at 1128 Topaz Ave.
• For more information, go to www.lllc.ca.
Show appreciation for trees by planting one
Help plant native plants and Garry Oak trees as Central Saanich celebrates Tree Appreciation Day at Adam Kerr Park, Sept. 24.
The all-ages event includes a tree-planting demonstration by Central Saanich Parks staff and an opportunity for the public to participate.
“This is a joyous event every year and it really provides an opportunity for the community to be a part of caring for our natural world,” said Ryan Windsor, mayor of Central Saanich. “This year’s event will celebrate the importance of Garry oak meadows and their ability to adapt to climate change.”
Garry oak ecosystems in the Victoria area have been identified as the most diverse terrestrial ecosystems in British Columbia, containing species ranked “at risk” of loss or serious depletion.
Historically, Aboriginal people tended the Garry oak ecosystems, harvesting the edible bulbs of camas and other species.
The event is free. It starts at 11 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 24 at Adam Kerr Park, at the corner of Keating Cross Road and Central Saanich Road. Participants are advised to wear clothing suitable for the weather and planting.
• For more information, go to centralsaanich.ca.
Bands play to help Kash get to Wonderland
The Vancouver Island Construction Association’s Young Builders Network hopes to make the dream of one sick young boy from Sooke come true as they stage their Builders in the Basement charity concert, at Wicket Hall on Douglas Street, Sept. 28.
The event will feature a roster of four local bands, including WiL, Shale, Northcote and Darrian Gerard.
Kash, four, has chronic kidney disease. His dream is to visit the Canada’s Wonderland, a 134-hectare theme park in Ontario, a dream that the Help Fill A Dream Foundation hopes to make come true.
“The ability to make dreams come true for children like Kash simply would not be possible with the support of our amazing community partners like the Young Builders Network,” said Craig Smith, Help Fill A Dream executive director.
“We know that raising a child who needs specialized health supports requires everything parents can give, and more. Dreams represent hope and they allow kids to simply be kids. For that, we cannot say thank-you enough.”
Tickets are two for $30. Doors open at 6 p.m. Sept. 28 at Wicket Hall, 919 Douglas St.
• For more information, go to vicabc.ca/about-us/u40/young-builders-network.
Communities open doors for B.C. Culture Days
Communities on Vancouver Island, Salt Spring Island and the Sunshine Coast will showcase their artistic and cultural personalities through a wide variety of free and pay-what-you-may events at B.C. Culture Days, Sept. 22 to Oct. 15.
This is the 14th year of the celebration, which features low-barrier, creative and interactive programs in Victoria, Nanaimo, Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Salt Spring Island and Sechelt.
The celebration will appeal to diverse interests and all age groups, with more than 400 events put on by an array of artists and organizations in 50 communities.
In Victoria, you can join the African Art and Cultural Society as they take the audience on a journey through African music, drumming, dance and food at La Calebasse du Nomade — Issamba for Culture Days, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sept. 22 and Oct. 8, at Victoria Public Market, 1701 Douglas St. The event is free.
Salt Spring Island is hosting Community Canvas: A Tapestry of Artistic Diversity, which aims to bridge different artistic expressions in the community.
The event includes craft stations, movement practice and a closing ceremony where the public is asked to share their art pieces, insights and takeaways. The event is free to join or pay-what-you-may.
It runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 23 and Oct. 7 at Centennial Park, 100 Fulford-Ganges Rd., Salt Spring Island.
• For more information and a full list of events, go to culturedays.ca/en.
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