School founder dances to leadership award; 20 honoured at ceremony

Kim Breiland has had a firm direction since she founded Stages Performing Arts School 39 years ago.

“I don’t compete our kids,” she said. “I think that’s the big difference for us.

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“Just getting my students out involved in the community is where my heart is at.”

The dancers she teaches appear at any number of local events — including the opening ceremonies for the Island Farms Victoria Day Parade this month — and help with fundraisers such as a recent gathering for pediatric oncology.

Breiland also started a program called Dancers for Kids that focuses on supporting good causes.

“In the two years we’ve done it, we’ve raised almost $15,000.”

She said she is behind her students in everything they do.

“It’s really important for me to instil pride in my kids that I teach,” Breiland said.

“I want them to have pride in themselves, pride in their performances.”

Breiland was one of 20 people given a Victoria Community Leadership Award Thursday night by Leadership Victoria. Both she and Jacquelin Green, who was recognized for her work with the Young Parents Support Network, were presented with Coast Capital’s Thriving Children and Youth Award in a ceremony at Government House, a nod to their special efforts on behalf of promoting well-being for people under 30.

The award was unexpected, Breiland said. “I was really honoured and surprised by the award and nomination. It came out of left field for me.”

Elysia Glover was equally appreciative of having her name put forward for the B.C. Transit Healthy Standard of Living Award, which was also won by Emily Rogers of Together Against Poverty Society.

Winners were chosen in 11 categories.

The award recognized Glover’s work with Community Micro Lending. “Through micro-lending, I helped in delivering and facilitating financial-literacy and entrepreneur-training programs to communities that are underrepresented and under-resourced — so folks who don’t traditionally have access to financing or skilled mentors or the other pieces they need to be successful.”

It is the sort of assistance that helps them to pursue employment or create a small business, Glover said. She said her work with Community Micro Lending also led to involvement with a program at Bridges for Women, which helps women overcome abuse and trauma.

“I met with them twice a week to dive into helping women who’ve experienced abuse and violence and crime, identify what value they had and skills and experience, and how they could turn that into a small business that would support their financial well-being and financial independence.”

The experience was “deeply humbling” and she learned a lot from the women taking part, Glover said.

“They taught me.”

Leadership Victoria is a community organization that has served the region since 2000 and has presented annual awards for 15 years, said executive director Mark Crocker. “Leadership Victoria exists to create, develop and celebrate local community leadership in Victoria.”

He said the group strives to promote people who make a lasting difference, some of whom are “unsung heroes” in the community. The organization offers a training program that tends to attract people who want to take “that next step” in developing their leadership qualities, Crocker said.

Applications are being taken and can be accessed at leadershipvictoria.ca.

The most recent program was done in partnership with Our Place, Crocker said. The focus was on finding land suitable for temporary housing in order to help deal with the homeless issue.

The program’s graduates through the years include Sooke Mayor Maja Tait and Dan Gunn, chief executive of the Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council.

jwbell@timescolonist.com

Others also honoured by Leadership Victoria on Thursday:

• University of Victoria Lifelong Learning Award — Peggy Wilmot and Tracy Humphreys

• Royal Roads University Belonging and Engagement Award — Annette Wall and Dr. Rhonda Hackett

• Healthy Safe Environments Award — Jane Devonshire and Rebecca Wolf-Gage

• Health and Wellness Award — Lee Fuge and Terry Edison-Brown

• Arts and Culture Award — Rebecca Hass and Jane Chadwick

• Vancity Getting Started in our Community Award — Adrienne Carter and Ruth Mojeed

• Innovative Science and Technology Award — Samarth Mod

• City of Victoria Extending Reconciliation Award —  Dr. Billie Allan and Monique Gray Smith

• Leadership Victoria Outstanding Leadership Award — Angela Adamson

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