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Our Community: Science and music mix in new program, John Hillman celebrates 105 years

A roundup of good news from around our community. This week: Seniors pitch in to raise funds for cancer facility and the Women’s Transition House marks 50 years.
Daniel Brandes teaches South Park Family School ­students in the Creative Music Technology Program for Youth, organized by the ­Victoria Conservatory of Music. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

New school program combines music and science

Students in Grades 4 to 8 are preparing for jobs that don’t exist yet at the Creative Music Technology ­Program for Youth, a program administered by the ­Victoria Conservatory of Music.

The students are at the intersection of ­artistic ­creativity and STEM, learning creative ­sound-design and electronic music composition by using musical ­coding, an emerging and evolving ­technology.

Musician, artist and teacher Daniel Brandes recently gave a behind-the-scenes peek the Grade 4 and 5 class at South Park Family School in ­Victoria, ­demonstrating their electronic music ­production skills.

The Telus Friendly Future Foundation ­provided about $15,000 in funding, with the Victoria ­Conservatory of Music providing the technology, such as Sonic Pi, a live-coding synthesis software.

• For more information, go to ­

At 105, John Hillman still fundraising for kids

A centenarian can’t walk as far as he would like to raise money for children this year, but that doesn’t mean he is stopping his campaign for children in crisis around the world.

For the past four years, John Hillman has galvanized the community by walking his age in laps around the courtyard at Carlton House, where he lives. With donations and pledges, he has raised more than $440,000 for Save the Children Canada.

On his 105th birthday on Monday, he announced that due to lower energy levels, he will not be doing his annual walk.

“This year, as I turn 105, there is nothing I’d like more than to step out into the Carlton House courtyard and walk 105 laps for the many children out there who still desperately need my help,” said Hillman in an email. “This may be the end of my ambitious walks, but I assure you, this is not the end of doing what we can for children.

“Although I can no longer fundraise in person, it is my hope that I can still fundraise in spirit, inspiring donations even without my walking campaign. The fact remains that the business of helping children in dire circumstances will always be one of the worthiest causes that anyone can support. And this will never change.”

Money raised will go toward providing health care, food, clean water, safe shelter and education to children affected by war, poverty, disease and natural disaster.

• For more information on Save the Children Canada, go to or go to the John Hillman Fund page.

Seniors pitch in for new cancer facility

Residents of an active senior living community are getting together to launch Hearts for Giving, a fundraiser for the new B.C. Cancer — Victoria Integrated Care and Research Pavilion.

The goal of the residents of Tapestry at Victoria Harbour is to invite the community to help them raise $20,000 by June.

The campaign is being spearheaded by Tapestry residents Carl Noel and Sandra Bryson.

“It’s close to our hearts,” said Bryson, a retired surgical nurse who worked with cancer patients and has been directly affected by the illness within her family.

Someone is diagnosed with cancer roughly every 20 minutes. The estimated lifetime risk of being diagnosed with cancer is one in two, according to the B.C. Cancer Data Registry.

The new B.C. Cancer — Victoria Integrated Care and Research Pavilion will offer a dedicated space for supportive care services for cancer patients, including mental-health help for patients and families. Heredity counselling will also be provided.

The cost of the new facility is estimated to be $11.3 million. An anonymous donor is matching up to $75,000 for donations received until the end of April.

• For more information, or to donate to the campaign, go to

In Nanaimo, Grade 4 class feasts on climate prize

A Grade 4 class are the collective winners in a contest — with a pizza lunch as a prize — on climate leadership sponsored by the City of Nanaimo.

The students of Melissa Kristiansen’s Grade 4 Departure Bay Elementary School class were part of the B.C. Sustainable Energy Association and its Cool It! Climate Leadership Training program and contest, which was introduced to School District 68’s students in March 2022.

The Cool It! program features interactive climate education workshops and games to support discussion and build on knowledge of climate change.

Following the workshop, students are challenged to bring that knowledge home — and encourage their families to make positive changes to their energy consumption.

Actions students are encouraged to complete include: calculating their household water consumption, taking their bike or public transit instead of driving, building a bee bath or eating leftovers at least three times.

In School District 68’s fall term last year, 14 elementary and 10 high school classes participated in the Cool It! program.

Overall, the program reached 634 students who collectively completed 4,143 actions focused on climate change and sustainability.

Kristiansen’s Grade 4 class won the challenge after completing 241 actions.

• For more information, go to!-program.

Gala celebrates 50 years for Women’s Transition House

Victoria Women’s Transition House is marking its 50th anniversary with a fundraising gala and inauguration of a second-stage short- and long-term transitional housing program in the Westshore in the fall.

The organization supports and provides safety and care for women, individuals identifying as women, non-binary individuals and children affected by intimate partner violence.

It will host Glow!, an evening that includes a welcome reception, buffet dinner, fashion show, silent and live auctions, a fund-a-need segment, gala photo booth, a raffle and dancing.

Proceeds from the event will support services at the emergency shelter, the housing program, counselling services and various community-based support programs.

The Westshore transitional housing project, funded by B.C. Housing, will consist of studio, one, two and three-bedroom units, with some designated as pet-friendly, for women and children seeking safety from violence.

The housing will include on-site support services and access to a full range of programs.

Tickets for the gala are $150 each (tax receipt for a portion) with options to purchase group tables (10 seats) and corporate tables (10 seats with additional goodies). The event runs 5:30 to 11 p.m. Saturday, May 4 at the Delta Hotels by Marriott Victoria, Ocean Pointe Resort, 100 Harbour Rd.

• For more information, tickets and tables, go to

VIU students seeking solutions to students hunger

An education savings and planning company is donating $400,000 over the next five years to fund student-driven solutions, emergency financial aid and food banks on two of Vancouver Island University’s campuses.

­­The funds, made through the Embark Student Foundation Major Grant Program, will benefit an increasing number of students being forced to choose between achieving their educational goals and basic living essentials due to the rising costs of living.

The initiative gets students involved in seeking actionable solutions to student hunger, with research awards to student groups who come up with innovative approaches to reduce food insecurity.

Funding will enhance existing initiatives on campus — the Students’ Union’s free breakfast bar, Give a Meal, a voucher program for students in need and the Student Access Fund, an initiative that provides financial support for students in crisis.

The university will also create food pantries located in discreet locations on the Nanaimo and Cowichan campuses.

Vancouver Island University is one of seven post-secondary institutions across Canada selected to share in $2.7 million allocated to the Embark Student Foundation Major Grants Program.

• For more information, go to