Wearing a rose-covered gown and headdress beside a rose-stuffed $408,993 Lamborghini Huracan Eco Spyder, Isabella McKinnon greeted South Asian community guests at a $742,495 B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation benefit. Malcolm Parry / PNG
THREE GALA NIGHT: It started at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver when Immigrant Employment Council of B.C. CEO Patrick MacKenzie chaired The B.C. Cancer Foundation’s Inspiration gala. With the theme Genomics: The Future of Cancer, the 15th annual event reportedly raised $3 million. As often in such roles, MacKenzie was motivated by a past cancer that carried away his wife Sarah. Dr. Janessa Laskin, the clinical head of B.C. Cancer’s genomics group, looks to her specialty curtailing such losses. “Cancer is so complicated, she said. “Genomics will change how cancer medicine is practised. It will change everything for patients, families, clinicians and researchers.”
ROCK ON: Kitty-corner at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, another first-time-chair, Stephanie Orr, fronted the 20th annual Rockin’ For Research gala. It reportedly raised $965,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. One attendee donated $1 million separately. Orr’s personal connection with diabetes derives from having two of her three children with that ailment. The event was founded by Loverboy guitarist Paul Dean and wife Denise on behalf of their then-four-year-old son Jake. Orr thanked guests for helping diabetic youngsters “get closer to a world without insulin injections, finger pokes, low blood sugars, high blood sugars, carb counting and constant fear of life-threatening consequences.”
COMING UP ROSES: Down at the Marriott Pinnacle Hotel, yet another first-time chair, personal injury lawyer Manjot Hallen, fronted the South Asian Community’s 11th annual Night of Miracles gala. He and vice-chair Seema Lai saw the event reportedly add $742,495 to the $5.4 million previously raised for B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation. That rosy result was reflected at the hotel’s entrance by a $408,993 Lamborghini Huracan Evo Spyder from Asgar Virji’s Weissach dealership that was literally stuffed with white and red roses. More blooms adorned greeter Isabella McKinnon, who is more accustomed to hops-and-barley fragrances at The Pint pub where she bartends. Foundation president-CEO Teri Nicholas thanked gala-goers for helping the hospital “transform care for children with presently incurable Type 1 diabetes.”
BULL’S-EYE: Some 150 years ago, large axes felled old-growth timber at what is now downtown Hastings Street. Smaller versions now thud into targets at Devon Boorman’s Academie Duello there. Along with its swordplay, archery, dance and mounted-knight programs, the medieval-themed martial-arts organization has teamed with the Axewood concern to offer $45 chopper-chucking sessions — with no trees harmed.
ILL WIND: The old saying aside, California’s wildfire-fanning winds did blow some good. That was to Menlo Park’s Rosewood Sand Hill hotel where former Vancouver hotelier Philip Myer is managing director. While visiting family and friend Sophie Lui here, he said, “We just had our best October ever,” meaning that fire-fleeing guests had booked all the ritzy joint’s rooms.
LOST SPACE RACE: Eastside Culture Crawl executive director Esther Rausenberg is pleased that 500 artists, craftspeople and designers will open their studios for the 23rd running Nov. 14-17. She’s dismayed, though, that a decline of affordable production spaces — often former industrial premises — is depriving artists of places to work. Seventy-five such artists are participating in the multi-venue Displacement exhibition that Rausenberg launched recently. “No artists, no city culture,” she said, hoping that community leaders, elected officials and the like will prevent that baleful outcome.
GONE TOO SOON: Ken Mayer’s photo-artworks were exhibited and auctioned recently at his studio in the 1000 Parker building where scores of other artists and artisans practice. Mayer, who died in September soon after a cancer diagnosis, directed that all auction proceeds would fund Capilano University music scholarships. Especially popular were his photographs of France and others inspired by 17th-century Dutch paintings that, though little demanded 20 years ago, “flew off the wall,” said wife Carol.
PEAK PERFORMERS Olympics and Paralympics gold medallists Molly Jepson, Kathy Kreiner, Ashleigh McIvor, Marielle Thompson and Nancy Greene Raine joined other top skiers, coaches and guests at Blue Water Café recently. The B.C. Alpine organization’s 14th annual Peak to Peak dinner-auction there celebrated 100 years of Canadian ski racing and helped fund national-level programs. Sun Peaks skiing director Greene Raine said she and mayor-husband Al are busy with further development of a multi-purpose centre there. Meanwhile, $850,000 would acquire their 4,000-square-foot home beside Kamloops’ Rivershore golf course’s third green.
TIME WAS: The Vancouver Heritage Foundation’s annual City Drinks fundraiser took place recently where much drinking was once done: the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver’s Panorama Roof. Foundation executive director Judith Mosley and board chair David Dove had civic historian John Atkin entertain guests with a video-supported recounting of the hotel’s eight decades. The foundation has a publication grant to record Vancouver’s early history, and has developed a heritage guide program for schools, Mosley said.
DOWN PARRYSCOPE: With permanent occupancy of his 92-year-old Mar-a-Lago approaching, Donald Trump may appreciate that the 126-room “cottage” was designed not by then-reigning Palm Beach architects Addison Mizner and Maurice Fatio but by Joseph Urban moonlighting from creating sets for the Ziegfeld Follies revues of revealingly clad showgirls.
Weeks after winning a silver medal in double-mini trampoline at the 2017 World Games, Tamara O’Brien felt a strange lump under her chin while watching TV in her mother’s Coquitlam duplex.
She received an ultrasound and a biopsy, but life went on as usual for the 20-year-old athlete who continued to train and then flew to Spain for another international competition, where she won silver again. After she returned home, she was summoned to her doctor’s office.
It was Friday, Oct. 13.
“The dermatologist says, ‘So they found melanoma in your lymph nodes.’ And I just started bawling,” O’Brien recalled. “It was this really weird shocking thing that was going on. I thought, ‘Oh my God I just got diagnosed (with cancer).’ I thought, ‘How am I going to tell anyone this?’”
O’Brien’s surprise is understandable, as it is relatively rare for someone her age to get cancer. Just two per cent of the new cancer diagnoses each year in Canada are in people 15 to 29 years old, representing about 2,250 people annually, says the Canadian Cancer Society.
As a result, experts say, there is a lack of programs, and sometimes even treatment, for these young people who are trapped between services for children and those designed for much older cancer patients.
“We are kind of the forgotten generation,” said O’Brien, who has Stage 4 melanoma.
“Most people think about their 20s as these years of figuring out their shit. And I feel like that all got taken away from me, right? I so desperately would love to move out of my house and start a career and think long-term with my boyfriend. But I don’t get to think about that — that’s not on my priority list any more. It sucks. It’s a really weird stage in your life to be diagnosed.”
O’Brien, who spent her childhood on her sport’s world stage, is now opening up about her difficult health journey. She hopes she can help other youth battling cancer who are struggling, as she initially did, to connect with people their own age.
“I was thinking: What do I want someone to take away from reading this story? A huge part of it is that my life isn’t sad. When people hear I have cancer, they must think, ‘Oh my God, that’s so depressing. She must be so sad. Her life must suck,’” she said.
“But, honestly, I’ve had some of my happiest days. … Your whole perspective changes when death sits right at your door. As morbid as it sounds, that’s true.”
O’Brien has her ups and downs, said her mother Tina Geulen, but “for the most part she is really positive. And she really tries to be.”
The pride in her voice dissolves into sorrow, though, when she talks about the injustice of this illness. “To watch this happen and not be able to have any control over the outcome and what is happening, is the hardest thing in the world.”
O’Brien has transferred her strong work ethic and determination to become one of Canada’s top trampoliners to her task of battling cancer, said former coach Curt De Wolff.
“I’m just so amazed by how it has brought out more passion for life in her,” said De Wolff, who coaches at the Shasta Trampoline Club in New Westminster.
“Sometimes you can look at something like this as an end, but I think it has almost been her second beginning. She has almost treated every day as a new beginning. It’s crazy impressive.”
By her own account, O’Brien has good days and bad days, days of determination and days of dark depression.
When Postmedia met with her just over a week ago, she was having a good day. But she was feeling “crappy” on Monday, when she posted on her blog that she just wanted to be “normal” again — although she wasn’t even sure what normal was anymore.
“Cancer at 22 is not ideal. Well, cancer at any age isn’t ideal,” she wrote. “I wake up some mornings so tired my eyes are literally glued shut wondering how I’m going to get out of bed. It’s a strange feeling knowing that cancer has taken up a huge part of my life and always will.”
The next day she was admitted to Vancouver General Hospital with abdominal pain, where she will remain over the weekend as doctors investigate what is causing her discomfort.
“I realize how powerful my story is to people. I think that is a huge purpose in my life, just being able to share and help, in whatever people decide to take out of my story.”
O’Brien had “an abundance of energy” when she was a toddler. “I used to stack stuff together when I was young and stand on it. My mother put me into gymnastics when I was two.”
She started trampoline at age nine and by age 10 was training 36 hours a week. She made the national team at age 11 in 2009, and competed that year in an international competition in Belgium. When she was 12, she won an unprecedented seven medals at the Canadian nationals, qualifying her for the world championships in Russia.
But the trip to Russia was going to cost $3,500 and O’Brien, who was raised by a single mother, didn’t think she could afford to go.
Publicity from her seven-medal haul led to Elaine Tanner, a 1968 three-time Olympic swimming medallist, offering to help O’Brien find funding, and eventually to Woody’s Pub in Coquitlam offering to sponsor the young trampolinist through its Dare to Dream Foundation.
“Her enthusiasm caught my eye,” pub owner Gordon Cartwright told The Province in 2009.
Woody’s Pub paid for all her travel expenses until she turned 18, for which both mother and daughter are eternally grateful.
“Without that she would never have been able to continue,” said Geulen.
She estimates the pub could have spent up to $40,000 supporting her daughter.
Medals piled up as O’Brien competed around the world.
“She was a very exceptional athlete. Amazing work ethic and very committed to what she was doing,” recalls coach De Wolff.
After she turned 18, O’Brien worked two jobs to continue to pay for her training and travel.
O’Brien’s discipline of double-mini trampoline — an acrobatic performance involving triple somersaults and twists, first on a mini-trampoline and then on a landing mat — is not in the Olympics, so the highest honour for her sport is the World Games very four years. When she became one of three Canadian trampolinists to qualify for the 2017 World Games in Poland, she changed her diet and trained even harder.
But something didn’t feel right.
“Every single day I was so tired,” she recalled. “I thought, ‘I just need to suck it up. I’m an adult now.’”
She put in the performance of her life, earning her best marks ever, and won silver for Canada.
“It was this really special moment because the hard work had paid off.”
After she returned home, she found the lump under her chin. It was near a spot where, the previous year, she’d had a mole removed that would test positive for melanoma.
“I never called it cancer. It didn’t seem like a big deal,” she recalled. “I never in a million years expected it would have turned into anything like it has now.”
O’Brien underwent an ultrasound and a biopsy, then focused on training for her meet in Spain in October.
Soon after, back home, she cried in the dermatologist’s office. “I never thought that this melanoma was going to come back,” she recalled thinking.
O’Brien knew her battle with cancer would force her to quit the national trampoline team and focus her energy entirely on her health.
While the vast majority of melanomas are caused by exposure to the sun or tanning beds, O’Brien grew up inside a gym and when outside always wore sun block. She is among the minority of melanoma patients whose cancer is linked to genetics, doctors have told her.
On Oct. 25, doctors removed the cancerous lymph nodes. “I had no cancer left in my body but there was a 50 per cent chance it could come back because it had metastasized,” she said.
She was told chemotherapy was not successful against melanoma, which made her happy because as a young woman with a boyfriend, she didn’t want to lose her hair.
But about a month after her surgery, a new lump appeared under her chin. The melanoma was back.
“So that was really awful to hear that I had recurrence six weeks after surgery. It was really, really aggressive.”
She would have four more surgeries, between January and March 2018, but doctors couldn’t remove all the stubborn cancer spreading microscopically through her neck. After a scan in April 2018, her oncologist delivered the worst news yet.
“She said, ‘You have spots in your lymph nodes, in your neck, under your armpit, in your groin. You have spots in your liver, you have spots along your bones. … It’s on your ribs. It’s on your vertebrae. It’s on your pelvic bone,’” a stoic O’Brien recalled.
The cancer was now Stage 4, the most severe.
The next day was April 20 — the date of the annual marijuana counterculture celebration — and O’Brien was starting immunotherapy treatment at the B.C. Cancer agency. “I remember joking, ‘It’s 4/20. I’m getting my drugs.”
Her body reacted poorly to the immunotherapy and the cancer worsened, leading to severe back pain that forced her last summer to quit her waitressing job.
Her grandfather took her to the B.C. Cancer to start radiation, where the staff assumed it was he who had come for treatment.
“I was like, ‘No, it’s actually me,’” she recalled. “The young adults are forgotten. There are supports out there, but I really had to look for it. Which is sad.”
One of the groups she found was Callanish, which provides a space for people to support each other through this life-altering disease. O’Brien counts on the group’s monthly drop-in sessions.
“You basically can sit there and bitch about your problems without anyone telling you how to be or that you can’t feel that way or that your feelings aren’t valid. Everybody in the room gets exactly what you are going through,” she said.
“They’ve helped me so much through my own struggles.”
But there is a need for more, said art therapist Sara Hankinson, who offers an art therapy program in Vancouver for young adults through the B.C. Cancer. Last week, she started an online group using Skype for young patients in other parts of the province.
Participants can discuss issues that are relevant to their lives, said Hankinson, such as body image or fear of losing their fertility after cancer treatments.
“Figuring out how to return to work can be a really big struggle for them. A lot of them are dating or in new marriages, which can often times be really challenged,” Hankinson said.
The challenges can also be medical for this age group, which is dubbed AYA, for adolescents and young adults, in health circles.
The survival rate for this group is improving, but not at the same pace as the advancements for children, said Dr. Karen Goddard, medical director of the Adult Childhood Cancer Survivorship Program at the B.C. Cancer.
“Some of the reasons are that AYA, in clinical trials and research, they are very under-represented,” Goddard said.
These patients often have one foot in childhood and one in adulthood and would benefit from a team approach. England has created special AYA clinics, and the B.C. Cancer hopes to develop one here, too.
“We need to bring adult and pediatric oncology together, so they can better look at treatment planning and psycho-social needs for these patients,” Goddard said. “I’ve talked to guys who say, ‘Everyone else (getting treatment) was over 60 and I’m here and I’m 25.’ They feel completely out of place and sort of abandoned and on their own. And cut-off from their peer group.”
Goddard is creating a program that would give young patients, after discharge, a document that shows their treatments, possible long-term health risks, and how they should be screened years down the road.
In the fall, O’Brien’s doctors put her on new pills that try to slow down the cancer, and they appeared to be working — although the nasty side effects include hair loss.
“I have had two stable scans showing disease regression, so things are getting smaller. They are doing their job for now, which is really awesome,” she said. “The problem with these drugs is that the cancer will become resistant to them, at some point, and it will start growing again.”
When that will happen and what she’ll do next remain uncertain, although her doctor is looking into a clinical trial in Toronto.
A GoFundMe page started for O’Brien last fall raised $16,000. She gave some money to her mom and thinks she may use the remaining $10,000 to fly back and forth to Toronto during the clinical trial.
Geulen is an on-call clerical worker for a local school district, a job that has given her flexibility to be with her daughter during appointments and hospital stays. But the less she works, the less she gets paid, often making it difficult to cover monthly expenses.
“This is just such a surreal life at the moment, and you can’t believe that it’s happening to you and you can’t believe it is happening to your child, and you can’t understand what you did to deserve this and what she did to deserve this,” she said.
After back pain forced O’Brien to quit her job last summer, she went on disability payments. She is grateful for the money, but notes she could never support herself on the meagre payments if she didn’t live with her mother.
“You are 100 per cent in poverty on disability, which I think people don’t even understand.”
She would like to get another job, but doesn’t have the strength to return to waitressing. “I’m trying to figure out what work would be good for me physically, and how I could make some money. So that is challenging right now, for sure.”
A highlight for O’Brien in the past six months was being the first recipient of the Forward Foundation, whose mission is to “provide young adults who are terminally ill with meaningful end-of-life experiences.” It was started by a remarkable young man, Christopher Cayford, while he was dying of cancer, and is now run by his mother, Claire Conde.
O’Brien’s chosen experience was to attend the 2018 Trampoline Gymnastics World Championships in Russia last November, so she could say goodbye to her Canadian teammates.
When she arrived in Russia, she received one heartfelt surprise after another: the Canadian team members wore “We Jump for Tamara” T-shirts, she was asked to be their flag bearer, and Olympic gold medalist Rosie MacLennan gave her one of the bronze medals the team won.
“I ended up walking away from that competition with the exact opposite outcome: It was not a goodbye. It was: My community is with me and they will always be with me,” O’Brien said, adding that she felt Cayford’s presence while in Russia.
“I definitely feel like he’s almost looking out for me. I feel like I know him but we never met. It’s super bizarre, and I’m not one to believe in stuff like that.“
For the last four months, since she returned from Russia, her cancer has been fairly stable. O’Brien has had two recent hospital stays: a two-week admission for a blood infection and her current treatment. To remain as upbeat as possible, she hung a poster board in her hospital room, and recorded the things for which she was grateful: her mom, nurses, friends who visit.
But the hospital stays taxed her spirit, which happens at other times, too. “I’ve had really dark days, days when I’ve been in the car driving and thinking this would be a good song at my funeral.”
She said, though, that she has good support from her mother, her boyfriend and some “true” friends.
Cancer, she jokes, can be “quality control” for relationships. Some people don’t know what to say and bolt, while others provide unwavering support.
“It was really, really hard initially getting diagnosed and thinking, ‘Well, this is my life now. So how do I introduce myself? ‘I’m Tamara and I have cancer.’ But it’s not a defining feature for me anymore.” she said.
O’Brien has now lived for one year as a stage 4 cancer patient — a thought that brings questions about her future but also relief that she is feeling more or less OK at the moment.
“I think it’s a celebration that I have had this year. And that hopefully I’ll have another,” she wrote on her blog. “I count my blessings each day because what else can you do when a huge chunk of your life is filled with uncertainty and with fear.”
2009 began somewhat in reverse to 2019. Back then, newly inaugurated Barack Obama occupied the White House and signs of a severe economic recession were declining. Here in B.C., gang violence increased dramatically just as we celebrated being assigned the 2010 Winter Olympics. Principal bidder Jack Poole would die before those low-snow games began. Famed architect Arthur Erickson perished, too, as would two of the 35 folk (and one fast ferry) portrayed on this page. Still, they and the 33 others revisited from 2009 columns contributed in still-evident ways to the character of the province we cherish.
Nanaimo-born singer-pianist Diana Krall had friend Sir Elton John join a benefit concert for Vancouver General Hospital’s Leukemia Bone Marrow Transplant program in memory of her mother Adella who succumbed to multiple myeloma in 2002.
Malcolm Parry /
Gwen Point accompanied husband Steven, B.C.’s first Aboriginal lieutenant governor, at the 64th-annual Garrison Military Ball that no longer entailed the presentation of serving or retired warriors’ debutante daughters.
Malcolm Parry /
Restaurateur chefs Rob Feenie, Tojo Hidekazu, Michel Jacob, Pino Posteraro and Thomas Haas participated in the Senza Frontiere dinner that benefitted the Chef’s Table Society’s bursary and scholarship programs.
Malcolm Parry /
Nimisha Mukerji and Philip Lyall premiered their 65_Red Roses documentary about cystic fibrosis patient Eva Markvoort who, despite a double-lung transplant, would die in 2010 but still spur medical-research fundraising.
Malcolm Parry /
Kasi Lubin and Shauna Hardy Mishaw kicked off the eighth-annual Whistler Film Festival they’d founded with a $30,000 fundraising and that, under Hardy Mishaw, has become a fixture that bow screens 90 international movies.
Malcolm Parry /
Cognoscenti already knew that one way to get vehicles like this 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 B Coupe into Pebble Beach concourse d’elegance contention was to have them restored by RX Autoworks’ Mike Taylor and Ian Davey.
Malcolm Parry /
Graduate student Hong Zhu was the first to take up residency when Prospero International Realty Inc. chair Bob Lee opened the 81-room MBA House at the University of B.C.’s Robert H. Lee Graduate School of Business.
Malcolm Parry /
Recently retired from the National Ballet where fellow principal dancer Karen Kain called her “the iron butterfly,” Chan Hon Goh prepared to lead the Goh Ballet company that parents Choo Chat Goh and Lin Yee Goh founded.
Malcolm Parry /
With four PuSh International Arts Festivals behind him, founder Norman Armour prepared to welcome 30,000 ticket buyers to a 21-show season and to continue doing so until his retirement from a much-grown event in 2018.
Malcolm Parry /
One year after the institution he headed became Emily Carr University of Art + Design, president Ron Burnett told students that up to 96 percent of them could expect to “become what you imagine, from an artists to an entrepreneur.”
Malcolm Parry /
B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation Crystal Ball committee member Sherry Doman welcomed friend and 20-times ball supporter Indra Sangha who, though now terminally ill with ever-spreading cancers, said: “I had to come.”
Malcolm Parry /
Rev. Mpho Tutu heard then-nine-year-old pianist Jeffrey Luo play Mozart and Chopin airs at a benefit for her archbishop-father’s Desmond Tutu Charitable Foundation and the Dali Lama Centre for Peace and Education.
Malcolm Parry /
Having starred in the multi-Genies-winning The Necessities of Life, star Natar Ungalaaq flew from Igloolik, Nunavut for a screening attended by director Benoit Pilon’s former classmate, city-based filmmaker Lynne Stopkewich.
Malcolm Parry /
Michaela Morris and Michelle Bouffard’s now-dissolved House Wine Enterprises firm was a go-to for many seeking wine know-how and especially those with 2,000-bottle cellars that needed supervision and enhancement.
Malcolm Parry /
Concord Pacific chief Terry Hui and Westbank Projects Corp’s Ian Gillespie were already big-time developers when they checked what architect Walter Francl had done for Bob Rennie’s 97-year-old Wing Sang Building.
Malcolm Parry /
Ask A Woman event-planning co-principal Tammy Preast lifted 14-year-old Casey at a gala-benefit for the Love On A Leash firm she founded that would later raise funds for such organizations as the Dhana Metta Rescue Society.
Malcolm Parry /
Brent Comber rescued water-borne forest debris to carve imposing artworks and Obakki clothing firm principal Treana Peake raised funds to construct water wells and permanent schools for those living without either in South Sudan.
Malcolm Parry /
On the last day of the year, a marine-transport vessel carried away a Pacificat fast ferry, one of three that failed to meet operational and economic demands and that, after long mothballing, were sold for pennies on the dollar.
INSPIRED: As the B.C. Lions readied for a final home game under coach Wally Buono on Nov. 3, no less than four galas kicked off downtown. Unlike the Leos, all were winners. The first, the B.C. Cancer Foundation’s 14th annual Inspiration gala at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, reportedly raised $4.3 million — including two $1-million donations from guests — to support blood cancer research. Tamara Taggart chaired again. She also MC’d with former CTV News at Six co-anchor Mike Killeen. He had to keep mum for two more days about his return to tube and timeslot Nov. 19 to present CBC Vancouver News with Anita Bathe. Jane Hungerford, who chaired the first Inspiration gala and five predecessor events, attended this one with lawyer-husband George. When mononucleosis sidelined him from 1964 Olympics rowing-eights competition, Hungerford joined Roger Jackson in coxless pairs. They promptly won Canada’s sole gold medal.
Rx FOR BCCHF: Down at the Marriott Pinnacle hotel, pharmacist and pharmaceuticals entrepreneur Bob Rai chaired the Night of Miracles gala that reportedly raised $755,000. Robin Dhir, who founded the event in 2009, said its South Asian community attendees have raised $5.4 million and change for the B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation. This year’s gala will help fund the Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children Enhancement Initiative, said foundation president CEO Teri Nicholas. As for Rai’s career: “My dream was to be a pilot, but I became a pharmacist.” That may be why he and wife Harpreet named their now 10-month-old first child Amelia.
LOOKING UP: Four rainswept blocks away in the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel, Cystic Fibrosis Canada regional director Sara Hoshooley saw the 65 Roses gala reportedly raise $300,000. Leona Pinsky founded the fundraiser in 2001 when her and husband Max’s infant daughter Rina contracted an ailment that once killed patients by age four. Rina is now a third-year student at the University of Victoria. Attendees were entertained by CF patient Jeremie Saunders, 30, “who had a bad scare last year, so this is my bonus time.” Saunders and friends Brian Stever and Taylor MacGillivary founded an every-Monday podcast “that speaks to anyone with a chronic or terminal ailment,” Saunders said. The surprise? “It’s a comedy show.” It sure is. Hit sickboypodcast.com to confirm that the three “are absolutely determined to break down the stigma associated with illness and disease.” That’s worth living for.
THE GOOD FIGHT: Up at the Rosemont Hotel Georgia, Contemporary Art Gallery president David Brown welcomed guests to a 30th annual auction that raised some $150,000. He also called the long-time event auctioneer, Hank Bull, “encyclopedic, credible and reliable … if he says something is going for a bargain, it is, and you should bid higher without hesitation.” Bidders do heed Bull. At Arts Umbrella’s recent auction, he got $10,000 for a Christos Dikeakos print estimated at $5,300. To secure such largesse, Bull said, “My theory is that bidders should get plenty of protein.” CAG gala-goers must have been duly fortified as Cree artist Joi T. Arcand’s sculpture fetched six times its $250 estimate. With its title, Go Away, formed in Cree symbols, the black-steel work replicated street-fighting brass knuckles, thus adding illegality to its appeal.
AUTHOR ONE: The Whalley teenager-turned-University of Rhode Island teacher Jean Walton revisited North Vancouver’s Maplewood Flats recently to release Mudflat Dreaming. Published by New Star, the book talks about 1970s squatters evicted from the present-day bird sanctuary, as well as residents and activists of North Surrey’s then-neglected Bridgeway community. Also included is the locally shot movie, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, to which some squatter-artists contributed. Walton gives her characters a proletarian gloss while detailing events as you’d expect from a former reporter on the now-defunct Surrey-Delta Messenger.
AUTHOR TWO: 1-800-GOT-JUNK founder Brian Scudamore should profit from his curiously titled debut book, WTF?! (Willing to Fail): How Failure Can Be Your Key To Success. A Canadian sell-out on Amazon, it documents his sometimes fitful progress from one clapped-out truck to a $300-million enterprise. Scudamore may benefit again when called to haul away now-read copies.
PAGE TURNED: Three years after closing its Robson-at-Howe bookstore, Indigo has reopened two-and-a-bit blocks westward. The two-floor facility includes a Starbucks cafe and counters and shelves loaded with baby clothes, bags, blankets, board games, cameras, candles, earbuds, glasses, lotions, mugs, pillows, record players, robes, soap, spices, tableware, tea and much besides. There are books, too, along with multi-coloured woollen “reading socks” at $34.50 a pair and, for late- night readers, matching hot-water bottles. Such bazaar-style merchandising would have amused the late Bill Duthie, who in 1957 opened the first and best of his peerless bookstores half way between the Indigo outlets. Duthie might have appreciated modern-day Indigo’s glasses for beverages sourced at his era’s across-the-street liquor store, but he’d have lamented the absence of ashtrays.
DOWN PARRYSCOPE: Live, feel dawn, see sunset glow, love and be loved … in Flanders fields.
BBG Constructive & Security Installation Consultants is a multi-disciplinary property and construction consultancy. Working with businesses on built-environment projects, we are client-focused with the recognised experience, knowledge base, expertise and track record to tackle projects irrespective of complexity from a position of strength.