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Our Community: Seniors in West Shore wellness-check program meet the people who run it

Run through the West Shore RCMP Community Policing Unit, the Keep in Touch program sees volunteers checking on seniors who don’t have other supports
Const. John Varley, a member of the West Shore RCMP, in full ­ceremonial dress, pours tea for one of the 27 seniors who attended the annual spring tea for the Keep In Touch program. VIA WEST SHORE RCMP COMMUNITY POLICING UNIT

A group of seniors on the West Shore recently had an opportunity to have tea and meet the volunteers and RCMP members behind a program that helps them to continue living independently in their own homes.

Run through the West Shore RCMP Community Policing Unit, the Keep in Touch (KIT) program is for elderly citizens who live on their own and don’t have family or close friends to check on them regularly.

Every weekday, volunteers telephone seniors who have signed up for the program to see how they are doing. Some chat, some don’t, but they are all expected to answer the phone at a prearranged time.

If they don’t pick up, volunteers contact two previously agreed-upon contacts — often relatives or neighbours — to check on them. In rare cases, they will contact the West Shore RCMP, who dispatch an officer to check on the individual.

Last month, Const. Cole Brewer, who runs the ­Community Policing Unit, and municipal employee Heather Allan, who administers the program, hosted a special KIT Spring Tea to bring together the 27 seniors and the volunteers who call them daily. ­Everybody reported that they had a good time, sipping tea, ­nibbling on some treats and listening to live music.

• For more information about the program, including how to get a loved on the caller list, contact the West Shore RCMP Community Policing Unit at 250-391-3367, email [email protected] or go to

>>> Victoria resident receives Courage to Come Back award

A Victoria resident’s story of overcoming adversity earned her a Courage to Come Back award at Coast Mental Health’s gala in Vancouver in May.

Baylie McKnight, founder of the Borderline ­Personality Disorder Society of B.C., received the award in the mental-health category.

Borderline Personality Disorder is a mental-health condition that usually manifests in early adulthood. It’s characterized by mood swings, impulsiveness and self-injury, among other issues. The condition makes it hard to function in everyday life.

McKnight, who believes she may have had the­ ­disorder when she was as young as 11, ended up on drugs and living in the Downtown Eastside by the time she was 14.

After she was diagnosed at age 18, she decided to get clean. After volunteering to do street outreach, she went back to school, eventually obtaining a master’s degree in clinical social work.

She, along with Elizabeth Bogod, founded a support group in 2010 to address gaps in service and help those with the condition.

Today, her organization offers support groups in Victoria, Nanaimo, Vancouver and New Westminster, gives presentations in schools and advocates to end the stigma around the condition.

“This award is meaningful to me because it offers hope to people living with borderline personality ­disorder and their loved ones. It also raises awareness around the disorder, which is often misunderstood and stigmatized. I believe with my sharing my story the community at large can see that people living with BPD can live meaningful lives,” said McKnight. “It also gives pause to myself about where I have been in my own mental-health journey and continued purpose in supporting our community.”

• For more information, go to

>>> Waste not: Check out

free composting workshop

Learn how you can reduce garden waste while creating soil rich in nutrients at a free composting workshop hosted by the District of Central Saanich at the Central Saanich Cultural Centre in Brentwood Bay on Wednesday.

The 90-minute event is being held in partnership with the Compost Education Centre and the Central Saanich Community Gardens Society.

“Composting is a great way to reduce waste, improve the soil, and encourage sustainability in your home as we continue to work toward climate resiliency as a ­community,” said Mayor Ryan Windsor. “This workshop ­will provide valuable information on how to become better environmental stewards.”

The workshop includes a presentation indoors and an outdoor composting demonstration at the Central ­Saanich Community Garden, next to the building.

Participants will also be entered to win an Earth Machine backyard composter.

The free workshop is only open to Central ­Saanich residents. It runs 6:30 to 8 p.m. in Room A at the ­Cultural Centre, 1209 Clarke Rd. in Brentwood Bay.

Residents can register online or in person at Central Saanich Municipal Hall.

• For more information, or to register, go to

>>> Indigenous Peoples culture in spotlight for three-day event

Salt Spring Island is hosting an Indigenous Peoples Weekend, a three-day event that showcases Indigenous arts and culture, at venues across the island, June 21 to 23.

There will be more than 17 events that celebrate Indigenous arts and culture, including an Indigenous art market, a community potluck, readings, tours, artist demonstrations and a live music event that will be ­live-streamed.

All Nations and Tribes whose territory includes Salt Spring have been invited, with representatives of the Penálaxeth’ (Penelakut), Quw’utsun (Cowichan) and SȾÁUTW (Tsawout) expected to be in attendance.

The majority of the events are free, while admission for others ranges from $35 to $85. The event runs Friday, June 21 (National Indigenous Peoples Day) to Sunday, June 23 at various venues on Salt Spring Island.

• For more information, go to

>>> Vote for a sea shanty and boost education programs

Vote for your favourite sea shanty, be it Blow the Man Down, Jack Was Ev’ry Inch a Sailor, The Wellerman or Leave Her, Johnny at the Maritime Museum’s Sea Song Showdown fundraiser, now until June 24.

The goal of the campaign is to raise $10,000 by June 24 while sharing maritime music. People can vote for their favourite sea song every week, with eight ­classics performed by local maritime organizations and the museum staff.

Proceeds from the fundraiser will go toward school and group education programs, memory and ­reminiscence programs, Museum Tots, Salty Sundays, Maritime Masterclasses, workshops for maritime crafts, oral history and collections videos and behind-the-scene collection tours.

For more information, go to

>>> Threshold Housing serves homeless youth at risk

Threshold Housing Society is dedicating the next two months to #SafeatHomewithPride, a campaign that raises awareness of youth experiencing homelessness who identify as 2SLGBTQIA+.

According to the 2023 Point in Time Count, people of all ages who identified as 2SLGBTQIA+ were more likely to have first experienced homelessness under the age of 24, with 31 per cent of youth interviewed ­identifying as 2SLGBTQIA+.

Threshold serves at-risk youth ages 15-24 who are experiencing homelessness, aging out of care or ­fleeing violence in the home, with its Family and Natural ­Supports program providing 300 in-house counselling sessions last year.

There is an ongoing wait list of 86 youth trying to access safe housing, with 45 per cent of youth in all its housing programs identifying as part of the ­2SLGBTQIA+ community.

• For more information, or to donate, go to ­

[email protected]