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ISLAND created by local Island women












In This Issue


I’m Just Saying ...

Why can’t we run the world?

Dear Mom

Elaine Lakeman with reflections of mom

What’s Really Wai ng for Us

Dona Anderson tackles retirement head on!

The Beauty & Rewards of Spontaneity Joyce Bezusko shows us how to just let go!

Resident People Tweaker Ally Rees takes on her 75%

Pursuing My Dreams

Emily Madill takes it one step at a time

Smiling Blue Skies

Suzi Beber shares her inspiration

Universal Law

Ulla Jacobs on her journey of understanding

“Soon” Seems to be the Easiest Word Linda Irvine tries to catch up

Every Mother Fights For Her Child

Colleen Matthews is always her daughter’s voice

Women in Poli cs

Elizabeth May and how we need to get involved

Boomer’s Legacy

Maureen Eykelenboom shares some updates

Making a Difference

Gifty Serbeh-Dunn with exciting new updates

Life Can Change ...

Janice Hayward begins to move forward

Genera onal Wisdom

Rhonda Todrick on bridging the gap

Cancer and Beyond

Terry Dance-Bennink continues her journey

A Different Way to Live Your Best Life Beth Cougler Blom and a new perspective

3 4 6 7 8 9 10 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

The Beauty of Camellias by M. Tarantino

Do you have a favourite island photo you’d like to share? Send it to: and your photo may be on the next cover.

A Transforma onal Life

Germana Rovinelli and her inspiring change


Truly be a friend ... Inspire by example

Celebra ng Ukulapha’s Women

Carolyn Burns showcases true success stories

One World

Vernice Shostal & Zonta reach out and connect

I Am a Lucky Gal

Donna Lynch compares home to the world


Kate Larsen wraps herself in silken threads

Women in Wine

Deborah Wickins shares wine, women and food

The ECOnomics of Happiness

Ann Baird and the arrogance of our species!

Highlands Gal

Pattie Whitehouse and where home really is

Garden Party

Grace Cockburn gets our soil in good shape

Island Horoscope

Linda Standidge gives us an astrological peek

For the Love of Food

Sally Rae Dyck gets us picnic perfect!

ISLAND created by local island women



Find us at or write to us for all inquiries 250.217.2388 Copyright © 2012 Island Gals No portion of this publication may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher. Island Gals does not endorse or represent any of the products or services in this publication. The views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the publisher. Island Gals is published four times a year.

Publisher: Johanna Socha

Editor: Pattie Whitehouse


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I’m Just Saying ... by Johanna Socha

“If ever position of leadership and decision-making were occupied by a woman, we’d have the problems of the world solved in a week.”


I think I may have heard that somewhere. Or maybe I just made it up. Either way, I believe it to be true. I recently relayed this thought to a friend, but added that “we’d probably need another week, just to tidy things up and throw in a load of laundry.” My friend capped it off with, “Then we’d organize a potluck.” So true ... so true. I could spend the next few paragraphs giving some examples of why I believe this statement to be true. But let’s face it ladies, we know it is. I will, however, give a few examples of why this thought may have come to me.


Publisher’s Note

I’ve been hearing a lot of talk these days about our very own Hartland Landfill.

It’s filling up ... fast. So the decision has been made to ban kitchen scraps by the year 2015.

Recently, Liberal MLA Harry Bloy got himself into a bit of trouble when, during a session in the legislature meant for discussing regulating smart meters, he called NDP leader Adrian Dix a liar and a cheat, and questioned whether the engagement ring Dix got for his wife was a stolen one. Harry, Harry, Harry. Why would you think the taxpayers would approve of those kinds of hijinks on their dime? Do what any good woman would do — save it for the afterhours Stitch ’n’ Bitch.


A number of U.S. Secret Service agents were recently caught soliciting the favours of prostitutes while on “special assignment” for the U.S. president’s upcoming visit to Colombia. I guarantee you that if those secret service agents were all women? There’d be none of that going on. They’d be back in their hotel rooms after their shift was done, ironing a blouse for the next day, Skyping with their kids and getting a good night’s sleep. The guilty pleasure would be ordering room service and catching up on Dancing with the Stars. But we still have a ways to go, and not all women would get a free pass to the decision-making table.

According to my calculation, that’s three years from now. I think it’s a great idea, and I’m thrilled that it was unanimously approved, but do we really need three years to wrap this up?

Kim Kardashian, whose face I still see plastered on the covers of 90% of gossip magazines and whose public relevance seems to be her irrelevance? You’re not invited. Every woman who has contributed thus far to Island Gals magazine? You’re all invited.

Maybe it’s because I still have fond maternal memories of being a mom to a teenager, and when something needed to get done? There was little time or patience for negotiation. “Here’s what you need to do. You need to do it now. If you don’t do it now, you’re in big trouble, mister.”

Why? Because you walk the talk, get things done, actually care, want to make a difference, get involved and teach us lessons of true sisterhood every single day. Imagine how quick we’d get things done, and still put together one helluva potluck.

So how’s this for a plan: Give me a canister and tell me that if I don’t put my kitchen scraps in there, I’ll be in big trouble. Done. Let’s move on.

Island Gals would love to hear from you! Write to us with your comments at: 3



by Rhonda Todrick

Sometimes it’s the little things;


ave you ever heard or been almost ready to say, “When I was young...?” Cue the eye rolling! The “old oak bucket syndrome” is rarely welcome in a generational discussion. No generation likes to hear that the previous one might have done it different, seen it different, or is completely indifferent to all the “new way of doing things.” But whether we like it or not, we are the sum of all of those who have gone before us. I feel so fortunate to have been born in the early 50s — into a stereotypical family — Dad worked and Mom stayed home. Watching my mom working at her chosen career was enlightening; she clearly loved doing what she was doing and I learned to respect her view of her world. Both my parents have passed away, but so often when I am making a decision or dealing with a difficult situation, my thoughts turn to my grandparents or my parents, and what they might have done or how they might have dealt with the situation.

“Call or write thank you notes!” “Opening a door for someone doesn’t mean you think you are superior, it just means you’re kind.” “Look someone in the eye when you talk to them!” “Say what you mean and mean what you say.” “Of course it hurts to have a baby! Think of the logistics!” “No, we can’t afford it!” “Don’t wear white pants after Labour Day.” Clearly, some nuggets hold more wisdom than others, but nonetheless my life is fuller because of the teachings that come to me from generations past. As we dismiss the generational values that preceded us, are we dismissing some priceless lessons? When we review accomplishments of the decades back to the 1800s, we take on an air of superiority and believe we have come such a long way. “It’s a different world,” I’ve been told by my kids, and it certainly is that. We’ve added magical things like electricity, planes, phones and indoor plumbing, not to mention the amazing number of scientific and

medical breakthroughs! We can build skyscrapers higher than ever. But, have we truly learned anything new about being human? We can now sit beside someone without looking at them and communicate via texting. We can access more factual information than ever before and yet choose to watch reality TV and sensationalized news. We can desalinate water and use nuclear power to heat cities, but we have nations without water and those who use nuclear power as a threat to the human race. We can run multinational corporations from a single computer and video links, but do we really know our neighbours and fellow workers better than previous generations? Individuals now feel entitled to strip historic churches of their copper roofs because the metal is worth money. This astounds me, as throughout centuries, churches have provided solace and now provide a recycling opportunity. There are great accomplishments humankind have made. I take comfort in seeing the increase in charitable organizations globally trying to level the playing field a bit. It makes me smile to watch people passionate about what they believe in and then doing it. I feel heartened by much, but can’t help but feel curious about what life would be like today if we weren’t so connected by technology, and returned to actually talking to each other, looking each other in the eye, borrowing some sugar and writing a thank you note.

I know, cue the eye rolling, but it’s my fantasy!


Women in Politics by Elizabeth May

Elizabeth May is an environmentalist, writer, activist, lawyer and leader of the Green Party of Canada. In the 2011 election, Elizabeth made history by being the first Green Party candidate to be elected to the House of Commons. She now represents the riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands.


s the Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands, I am serving in a House of Commons with an all-time historic high of women MPs — 25%. My next-door riding of Victoria is represented by Denise Savoie and only slightly up-Island is Jean Crowder, representing Nanaimo-Cowichan. I am the only woman leader of a federal party in Canada, but the interim NDP leader, Nycole Turmel, may be replaced by a woman leader for the NDP. Although the NDP front runners are men, Toronto’s Peggy Nash is seen as a strong contender and Niki Ashton from Churchill Manitoba is running a spirited campaign.* Stephen Harper’s cabinet has an all-time high proportion of women ministers. And at the same time, Canada has an all time high number of women premiers— B.C.’s Christy Clark, Alberta’s Alison Redford, Nunavut’s Eva Aariak, Newfoundland and Labrador’s Kathy Dunderdale. The B.C. Legislature has 31% women — a level of elected women equalled only by the Yukon. Locally on the Saanich Peninsula, there are women in all council positions, with Alice Finall serving as North Saanich mayor. Given all that, it would hardly be accurate to suggest that women in politics are a rarity. Nevertheless, the level of participation by women lags far behind what it should be. The advocacy group Equal Voice ( operates to raise awareness as well as to encourage women to run for office. At 25% in the House, women are dramatically underrepresented. We are 50% of the population. Shouldn’t we be more than a quarter of the House? Canada ranks 39th in the world in terms of the proportion of elected women. Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Germany and Iceland rank far ahead, but so too, do Cuba, Iraq, Uganda and Afghanistan.

There are many theories as to why it is so hard to get women into politics. My own view is that the hyper-partisanship and nastiness of political culture discourages female participation.What sensible woman wants to devote herself to something called a “blood sport?” If we could only improve and elevate the political culture of Ottawa so that it was more about governance and public policy that served the common good, and was less about spin and short-sighted tactics to serve private greed. Women are more than prepared to serve in public institutions that enhance community well-being. When more women are in politics, I am convinced the culture of politics will change. But we need more women in politics now to get that cultural change. I am loving being an MP, trying to advance the change in culture. I work to find common ground with MPs in all the other parties. I work across party lines and try to be attuned to the humanity of the place, while ignoring its partisanship. Canada’s political culture should be consistent with our constitution. The constitution compels the government of Canada to strive for “Peace, order and good government.” They are somewhat stodgy goals, unlike the U.S.’s more evocative “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” or France’s “Liberté, égalité, fraternité.” But then we are a nation whose personality was forged not through revolution, but through rejecting revolution. The reality of “Peace, order and good government” is that our goals are grounded in communitarian values, not merely individualistic expressions of immediate gratification of desires. Getting Canada’s political culture back to the non-partisan work of good governance would, I am sure, attract more women. The Catch-22 is that we need more women in politics to make that change. In the meantime, I am very honoured to be playing the role I am. Let’s hope my contribution eases the way for more of our young women to think now about a life in government. *On March 24, 2012 Thomas Mulcair was chosen to succeed Jack Layton as leader of the federal NDP.


What you should know

about Suzi Beber Smiling Blue Skies


by France Beckner

Suzi, Riley and France


ne of the agility dogs I run is Riley, the special friend of Suzi Beber. I never quite know what Riley will find interesting on a course, but he always gives me his all, even when temporarily distracted. What many people don’t know is that Suzi is my inspiration. She has done so much for research into canine cancer, creating The Smiling Blue Skies Cancer Fund to support this important cause. For anyone who, like me, has been heartbroken by losing a dog to cancer, there are no words to describe how much a person like Suzi means when


n 1993, Suzi Beber had the world by the tail. She had a fulfilling career in Ontario as a high school vice principal, a wealth of activities and friends.

your dog is suffering. She can truly once again create a smiling blue sky when all you feel is darkness. A feature writer about animal wellness, a developer of healthy canine diets and a pioneer in healthy supplements for dogs, Suzi is truly an angel who supports and counsels so many whose dogs suffer from cancer. I could never even begin to list all the things Suzi has done to help others and their dogs, most of which goes unnoticed except by those she has helped. Suzi has a fire spirit that, even though she suffers with health issues, causes her always to put others before herself.

Blues’s Inspiration & My Hope

Suzi’s love and hard work earned Riley his Companion Dog obedience title last summer, a feat I am sure many would never have believed possible. Her courage is awesome. AVID Agility is proud to support Smiling Blue Skies, a cause headed by a real superhero, my friend and an inspiration to so many. France Beckner and her husband Barry are co-owners of the Academy of Vancouver Island Dogs (AVID), providing agility and rally training to dogs of all ages. Riley, run by France, recently achieved his Agility Trial Champion title.

Suzi’s Story

by Pattie Whitehouse

She and her partner Tom Wright, also a teacher, loved hiking in wild places around the world. That was before routine surgery turned into catastrophe. A medical accident left her with physical, neurological and cognitive disabilities that made much of what she had been able to do — including work — impossible. Suzi spent the next two years relearning how to walk, how to care for herself, how to adapt to the changes in her cognitive functioning. It was hard. Then she and Tom brought “a golden bundle of fluff” into their home — and their hearts. Smiling Blue Skies — Blues — was a golden retriever. At six weeks of age, he already demonstrated the attitude and confidence that makes Suzi say of him, “He was the King.” Blues’s first gift to Suzi was companionship. She spent much of her time alone once Tom left for work each morning. Blues relieved her isolation. Suzi’s family and friends had found it hard to deal with the changes in her; Blues became a bridge to them, and to many new friends.


Suzi took Blues to training classes, and that introduced her to a new world — one where she would again know the confidence that comes from achievement, and where she made a whole new set of friends. Blues was only five years old when he got sick. Some 60 % of golden retrievers succumb to cancer. Blues died in 2001, barely six years of age, of lymphoma. Suzi was devastated, but Blues wasn’t finished with her yet. In his illness and death, Blues gave her new passion and purpose in life. Suzi started The Smiling Blue Skies Cancer Fund in his memory. In partnership with the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph, the fund supports research into the prevention and treatment of cancer in companion animals. Since its inception, Smiling Blue Skies has raised more than $1 million. While Blues was sick, Suzi dedicated herself to researching canine nutrition, herbal supplements, alternative therapies — anything that might give Blues a chance. She shares that information through her website, in articles and in person. Suzi and Tom now live near Victoria with three of Blues’s descendants. The youngest, Riley, inherited his grandfather’s good looks, presence and healing ways. “Riley has an innate ability to make people happy,” Suzi says. “He’s an old soul; he carries Blues in him.” The Academy of Vancouver Island Dogs has become a tremendous source of support for Suzi and for Smiling Blue Skies. AVID sponsors raffles at agility trials to raise funds for the cause, and AVID members help Suzi with Riley’s activities. Tom says that the most important thing Smiling Blue Skies does is to raise awareness of canine cancer.

Suzi says that the most important thing she does is give people hope.


earn more about The Smiling Blue Skies Cancer Fund at


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