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Our Community: Camino promoter honoured; mini-golf for Ukraine

One of the founders of the Victoria chapter of the Canadian Company of Pilgrims will be honoured by the Spanish government for spreading the word about the Camino de Santiago
Wendy Loly with her Camino de Santiago passports and a ceremony invitation. Loly will receive the Officer’s Cross of the Order of the Civil Merit from the Spanish ambassador at a ceremony in Ottawa in March. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Victoria-based Camino de Santiago promoter recognized by Spain

One of the founders of the Victoria chapter of the Canadian Company of Pilgrims will be honoured by the Spanish government for spreading the word over the past 20 years about the Camino de Santiago, a network of ancient pilgrim routes that lead to the tomb of Saint James.

On March 5, Wendy Loly will travel to Ottawa to receive the Officer’s Cross of the Order of the Civil Merit from the Spanish ambassador to Canada at a ­ceremony at the ambassador’s official residence.

Loly co-founded the Victoria chapter of the ­association, which supports people interested in ­walking the Camino de Santiago (the Way of Saint James), the name given to any of the dozens of routes to Santiago de Compostela, the capital of northwest Spain’s Galicia region.

The Council of Europe designated the Camino de Santiago a European Cultural Route, its first, in 1987. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

“Walking the Camino is a spiritual journey. Many people see it as a thing to do when they are undergoing a transition in their lives,” said Loly, who has walked six trails since 2001. “Your mind changes along the way. Many who start as walkers end up as pilgrims.

“There is a certain simplicity to it, with everything on your back.”

The journey typically takes 30 to 35 days, she said, although some choose to cycle it in two weeks.

She said that some — usually those who live in Europe — do the walks over two years, doing a chunk, leaving, then returning in a subsequent year to pick up where they left off.

Walkers can stay at low-cost albergues (hostels), with dormitories and shared facilities — “with up to 56 of your closest friends, some of whom snore” — or guesthouses or hotels along the way.

Eating establishments frequently offer “pilgrim menus.”

Along with her contributions to the local ­chapter, Loly also served as president of the national ­organization. Although retired from that role, she still contributes as a consultant to the current president.

The Victoria chapter holds numerous talks and walks throughout the month. The next event on the calendar is Camino 101: Preparing to Walk the Camino de ­Santiago.

The $30 registration fee includes lunch and coffee. The event runs 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. March 2 at the Mary Winspear Centre, 2243 Beacon Ave.

Turn a door into a piece of art

Habitat for Humanity Victoria is looking for creative people to transform a plain door into a piece of art, to be auctioned online as part of the Open A Door online charity art auction fundraiser.

The doors can be any size, material or type and are supplied by the Victoria or Westshore ReStore. Each artist is free to create anything they choose with the materials selected.

Habitat for Humanity says doors were chosen because they represent a transition in people’s lives — doors open up new possibilities and opportunities.

Once complete, the doors will be available for ­viewing in the centre court of Mayfair Shopping Centre and online. Visitors and art enthusiasts can bid on the doors in an online auction.

All auction proceeds will support Habitat Victoria’s mission to build affordable homes for local families in need.

Artist registration is now open. The auction will take place between April 22 and May 23.

• For more information, or to register, go to ­

Helping front-line workers deal with human trafficking

Learn all about human trafficking at Breaking Barriers: A Rights-Based Framework for Building Community and Survivor Resiliency in Response to Exploitation, a workshop at the Philippine Bayanihan Community ­Centre, March 4.

The workshop, which is open to anyone who ­interacts with youth, vulnerable populations and survivors, is hosted by The Spark, an anti-human trafficking ­education initiative of the Salvation Army’s Illuminate.

The organization, in partnership with the Justice Institute, conducted a community needs assessment on human trafficking by engaging with 130 ­organizations across the province to understand the scope of ­community programs devoted to the issue.

As a result of the findings, they have developed a series of training sessions designed to support ­front-line staff in their interactions with exploited or trafficked individuals.

The workshop is free to join but registration is required. It runs from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. March 4 at the Philippine Bayanihan Community Centre, 1709 Blanshard St.

• For more information, go to To ­register, go to

Victoria, Saanich commit to improving accessibility

The City of Victoria and District of Saanich have joined other municipalities across the province in ­committing to improve accessibility for those with a disability through the Rick Hansen Foundation B.C. Accessibility Grants program.

Among other benefits, the municipalities will receive up to $90,000 in funding for accessibility ­improvements to existing sites within each municipality and ­accessibility training for city staff.

The program, which includes funding from the ­provincial government, is meant to improve accessibility for residents and visitors of all ages and abilities.

More than 926,000 people in British Columbia have a disability.

“We are honoured to continue our support to communities across British Columbia as they improve accessibility thanks to generous support from the province,” said Brad McCannell, vice-president for access and inclusion with the Rick Hansen Foundation.

“Accessibility improvements to spaces such as ­community centres, libraries and arts facilities will benefit everyone across our province — ­parents, ­seniors, people with temporary and permanent ­disabilities, their caregivers and loved ones.”

The foundation says almost 50 per cent of adults in Canada have a permanent or temporary disability or live with someone who does. “Everyone has a right to real, meaningful access and we applaud all of these communities working towards making that a priority.”

• For more information, go to

Ukrainian community celebrates Taras Shevchenko

The Victoria branch of the Ukrainian Canadian ­Congress is hosting a concert to celebrate the work of venerated poet, artist and activist Taras Shevchenko (1814-1861), at Christ Church Cathedral, on March 1.

The man referred to as the Father of Modern Ukraine or the Bard of Ukraine captured aspects of Ukrainian life and culture in his work.

The event features an evening of song, dance and poetry to celebrate what would be his 210th birthday, featuring performances by LUNA Ensemble, Kalyna Choir, Veselka Dancers and others.

Admission is $15 per person or $20 for a family. ­Children 12 and under are free. The performance starts at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 1 at Christ Church ­Cathedral, 911 Quadra St.

Tickets are available on the Ukrainian Cultural ­Centre website, via e-transfer (, or at the door.

Test your putting skill at Odd Fellows mini-golf

The Independent Order of Odd Fellows in Victoria is hosting a Mini-Golf for Ukraine fundraiser at their ­historic hall, March 2.

The fraternal order has transformed the hall into a 18-hole custom-made mini-golf course for one day only.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Canada-Ukraine Foundation.

The event runs from 1 to 9 p.m. March 2. You can play at $10 per round as a drop-in between 1 and 7 p.m., join an adult tournament for $15 that runs 7:30 to 9 p.m. or reserve a foursome for $50.

• For more information, go to

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