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Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Community rallies to support Wendy Niomi Pearson THE CHRONICLE
Mere days after learning the joyous news that they were going to be parents, Wendy Gurney and Kurt Stewart made a horrific discovery in December — Stewart, at 31 years of age, had stage four terminal gastric cancer. Now, friends and family of the Chemainus couple are banding together to raise funds in memory of the man they say was kind, caring and an inspiration. They have created Wendy-Aid, a fundraising campaign to assist Wendy, the selfemployed mom-to-be, who spent countless hours at Kurt’s side during his illness. He passed on Jan. 28. “Kurt was a very active individual who loved the outdoors,” said Doc Morrell, one of the founders of Wendy-Aid. “He loved everybody and was a very vibrant individual.” Stewart was born Nov. 2, 1980, in Nanaimo and spent many of his childhood years on the West Coast. Eventually, the family headed to Alberta, and Kurt pledged to one day return to the Island. He got that chance in 2001, when he moved to the Cowichan Valley. Some of his time was spent volunteering as a youth pastor for several Cowichan Valley churches, said Lisa Stewart, Kurt’s older sister. “He really held himself to a high standard Days after learning they were going to be parents, Wendy Gurney and Kurt Stewart discovered that Stewart had terminal gastric cancer. ... he was always really involved with youth Stewart passed away Jan. 28, and the community is rallying to support Gurney and remember Stewart through Wendy-Aid. and disadvantaged sects of people and PHOTO SUBMITTED spent a lot of time being a voice for them and helping out,” she said. “He had one of had hopes of starting up his own tour guid- Our family — my parents, myself and my the Wendy-Aid site, where people can read those personalities that drew people to him, ing company. Shortly before his passing, he two siblings — feel that Wendy and her Kurt and Wendy’s story and make a donareally quite outgoing — people felt comfort- had purchased a couple of goats and was baby are such a gift, and we really get joy tion if they wish. able talking to him.” “We’ve all gone through personal tragedies training them to pack hiking supplies. at welcoming these two wonderful people Kurt was living in Crofton when he met When Kurt first got ill at the end of October, into our lives even though we’re devastated and people say ‘is there anything I can do to Gurney in December 2010. He moved to the chronic abdominal pain he was experi- at the loss of Kurt who meant so much to help,’ and there’s really nothing you could Chemainus in the summer of 2011. do,” he said. “In this case, I knew that I encing was thought to be pancreatitis. He us.” “Kurt very much found a soulmate in Wendy, was diagnosed with gastric cancer on Dec. A Burger and Beer night is being held Feb. could do [the website] ... and I’ve never and he was super excited and happy about 1, a few days before the couple was married. 19 from 4-7 p.m. at the Mount Brenton Golf been more proud of what I do for a living having a life together,” said Lisa. It wasn’t until Dec. 11 that the cancer was Course in Chemainus to support Wendy-Aid. than in doing this.” Many Chemainus residents may recall see- diagnosed as terminal. Tickets are $12, and there will be 50/50 Burger and Beer tickets are available ing Kurt on his many hikes around town and “It was a bit of a shock how very quickly draws and a silent auction full of goodies, through the Wendy-Aid website (www. the surrounding areas with his faithful dog, he got ill,” Lisa said. says co-organizer David Hatchman. wendy-aid.com) or at Doc the Barber in Bubba. “I’m so moved by the response this has Chemainus. If you can’t make the burger Lisa said despite the trying ordeal, both “Bubba and him explored the outdoors on Kurt and Wendy remained positive and con- gotten,” he said. “We’ve got some really night but would still like to donate, a fund Vancouver Island more than anybody,” Lisa cerned about those around them. wonderful gifts from people in the com- has been set up at the CIBC, under the Kurt said. Stewart Memorial Account. For more infor“Seeing the two of them together and their munity.” Kurt was a self-employed drywaller and light together was an inspirational thing. Hatchman, a website developer, created mation, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Ladysmith Chemainus Chronicle Tuesday, February 7, 2012 3
Celebrate Saturday Ladysmith nominated as Spirit of Ladysmith awards will be presented this a Great Place in Canada Saturday night at Aggie Hall Lindsay Chung THE CHRONICLE
This weekend, community and celebration will go hand in hand, as the Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce hosts the Spirit of Ladysmith Community Awards. The awards will be presented this Saturday night (Feb. 11) at Aggie Hall during a festive evening of presentations, appetizers and dancing. Eight awards will be presented to businesses or individuals who have been nominated by their peers. The awards recognize achievement and leadership in Ladysmith. “It’s amazing how many nominations are in,” says Chamber of Commerce vice-president Rhonda Shirley. “These were the ones nominated, and from them, it will be the chosen eight, but really, it takes a town of many workers and volunteers to make things happen, and we just hope everyone knows it’s appreciated.” This year’s nominees are: • Business of the Year (one to 10 employees) The 49th Café Community Link Connexions Inc. GNB Builders Inc. Little Rascals Pets and Supplies • Business of the Year (11 or more employees) Pharmasave Ladysmith Western Forest Products • Entrepreneur of the Year Nikki MacCallum of Nikki Design Peter Richmond of 49th Parallel Grocery Steve Wilkinson of Pharmasave Ladysmith • Service Employee of the Year (one to 10 employees) Inga Anderson Coleen Andreychuk-Burke Jill Collins Danielle Eastick Margie Forester Sandra Hendricks Heidi Kulhawy Jacquie Neligan Cheryl Onciul Lesley Parent Colin Pickell Monica Stieda
Marti Westergaard • Service Employee of the Year (11 or more employees) Colleen Gaudreault • Non-For-Profit of the Year Kinsmen Club of Ladysmith Ladysmith and District Historical Society Ladysmith Family and Friends • Volunteer of the Year Audrey Ballegeer Hilary Bell Nita Grant Jim Masyk Isabelle Ouelette Duck Paterson Ed and Marie Polachek Rod Saunders Carol Sparham David Walbank Volunteers at Ladysmith Family and Friends • Youth of the Year Annika Bouma Noah Hendricks Katrina Stirling Brendan Wilkinson Ultimately, the evening is all about celebrating Ladysmith. “Overall, we love Ladysmith because it is just such a great community of volunteers and workers and businesses, and it’s just amazing to see everybody come together,” said Shirley. “We want everyone to come out and have a good time.” This year’s award night is a bit different than past events, which were more formal dinners. The Chamber of Commerce is hoping the tickets are more affordable for the community this year so that more people can be part of the celebrations. Tickets are only $15, and they are available at the Chamber of Commerce office at 411B First Ave. and by calling 250-2452112. The Spirit of Ladysmith Community Awards begin at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. There will be appetizers from Printingdun Beanery, Ricky’s and 49th Parallel and treats from Old Town Bakery, and the awards presentations will be followed by dancing with local DJ Ted Puska. The evening will also feature a raffle for a diamond pendant from Grant’s Jewellers.
Lindsay Chung THE CHRONICLE
What makes Ladysmith such a great place? Is it the people? The opportunities for hiking, paddling and other outdoor activities? The unique downtown? For Paul Biffin, it’s all of the above — and more. Biffin has nominated Ladysmith as the best neighbourhood in the Great Places in Canada contest. “I just think it’s a great little town,” he said. “It’s got a lot of character, and I do think it’s one of the most beautiful spots in Canada. It’s got really friendly people, and I think the weather’s the best on the Island.” “It’s got all these amazing hiking trails,” he added. “The downtown looks like the set of an old western or something with all the old buildings. It’s just a nice setting.” The Great Places in Canada competition is sponsored by the Canadian Institute of Planners and is open to all Canadians from coast to coast to coast. Voting takes place online, and results are tallied in real time. L a s t y e a r , Commercial Street in Nanaimo was named Canada’s great street, while Le Petit Champlain in Quebec City won as Canada’s great neighbourhood and The Forks in Winnipeg was honoured as Canada’s great public space. Biffin was inspired to nominate Ladysmith in the Great Places in Canada contest when he saw on Shaw TV
Recreation opportunities like Holland Creek Trails are one of the reasons Paul Biffin has nominated Ladysmith in the Great Places in Canada contest. that Bowen Park in Nanaimo had been nominated as a public space this year. Biffin moved to Ladysmith about two years ago, but he knew even earlier that this was a place where he wanted to settle down. “I used to work in
ers around town, and he has sent out e-mails about the contest. In his nomination, Biffin highlights Ladysmith’s history, as well as the many events such as Light Up that bring the community together and draw people to town.
Quoted in the Chronicle
“It’s got a lot of character, and I do think it’s one of the most beautiful spots in Canada.” Paul Biffin Langford, and I drove He considers First through town a few Avenue one of the times and wanted to town’s main features. buy a home here, and “Ladysmith is known that’s what I did,” he for its historic downsaid. “It’s the perfect town First Avenue,” spot. It’s close to he writes. “It is a the airport, about an lovely street with hour from Victoria many little shops and and 20 minutes from has an old town feel Nanaimo and the fer- to it. There are many ries there.” historic landmarks To encourage people throughout the street, to vote for Ladysmith, as well as some of the Biffin has put up post- friendliest people you
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will ever meet.” Biffin also writes about how much there is to do in Ladysmith. “The town of Ladysmith is a gorgeous place that provides residents and visitors with many different events and activities all year long,” he writes. “From ocean kayaking (Paddlefest) and hiking the Holland Creek Trail to eating the best cinnamon buns on the Island, to water parks and parks for kids, there is really something for everyone here.” You can vote for Ladysmith at http:// w w w. c i p - i c u . c a / greatplaces/en/place. asp?id=6057. As of Monday morning, Ladysmith had 379 votes. Voting ends Feb. 29. Judges will choose the semi-finalists in early April and announce the winners at the end of April.
4 Tuesday, February 7, 2012 Ladysmith Chemainus Chronicle
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The Knights of Columbus, Santa Maria Council 4582, recently presented $500 to sisters Kalia, Marika and Kesa Van Osch to assist them at the Canadian Junior Curing Championships Feb. 4-12 in Napanee, Ont. Pictured, from left, are Kalia and Marika Van Osch, Grand Knight Alphonse Gallant and Kesa Van Osch. The Van Osch sisters, who live in Nanaimo but are well known in Ladysmith as very active members of St. Mary’s Parish, are representing B.C. at the nationals as the provincial junior women’s curling champions, along with teammate Brooklyn Leitch. You can follow the Van Oschs’ progress at http://www.curling.ca/championships/juniors/.
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