North Shore Change Makers in 2011
1 Arc’teryx employees
For donating their time and skills to clothing the homeless this winter, employees at North Vancouver’s Arc’teryx Equipment make the list of 2011 Change Makers.
Their Birds Nest Project involved 70 staff members donating their weekends to making 705 waterproof capes to give out to the homeless on the North Shore and in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
The ingenious project used Gortex material left over from the company’s outerwear product line which would typically wind up in a local landfill.
For that, Arc’teryx not only found a way to provide waterproof shelter for the homeless but also helped the environment at the same time.
It’s that kind of environmental and corporate social responsibility that makes Arc’teryx Equipment a widely respected local company.
2 Dundarave Festival of Lights
Since taking the reins of the Dundarave Festival of Lights in 2008, West Vancouver’s Michael Markwick — along with a support team — has transformed the festival into an event focused on supporting the arts and eliminating homelessness.
Each year, participants are asked to contribute $110 to pay for a Christmas tree located at the Dundarave gazebo.
In addition to the cost of the tree, participants are also asked to make a donation to the North Shore’s Lookout Shelter. Money from the festival has gone to help establish the North Shore Culinary School, which provides free-of-charge culinary training for the homeless or those at risk of homelessness.
In 2010, the Dundarave Festival of Lights expanded its mandate to include support for the arts. Markwick established a non-profit society, the Dundarave Festival of Lights society, which allowed them to apply for federal government grants. In 2010, the festival received $45,000 to be given to local arts groups. In 2011, they received another $41,000.
3 The Purcells
Her son has a rare, degenerative disease, but Deb Purcell has never lost hope that he will live a normal life.
Trey, her oldest son, has Hunter syndrome, otherwise known as MPS II. The disease is caused by the lack of an enzyme that breaks down sugar molecules in the body which, over time, often leads to mental and physical decline.
After Trey’s diagnosis in 2006, Deb discovered there was new treatment for the disease in the U.S. that wasn’t yet available in Canada. Not willing to sit around and watch her son’s health deteriorate, the North Van mom lobbied the federal government so that Canadian kids could receive the new drug IV Elaprase.
Since then she’s been a full-time advocate for Trey, now 7, and others suffering from MPS II. She and her husband Ryan also fundraise for Hunter syndrome research and this year hosted Once Upon A Cure, a gala event that raised $90,000.
For more info about the Purcells, visit treypurcell.com.
4 Integrated First Nations Unit
Although 2011 wasn’t the inaugural year for the RCMP’s Integrated First Nations Unit, the police force has certainly grown in stature each year since its inception in 2008.
In October, The Outlook rode along with Const. Jeff Palmer, a West Vancouver police officer and key member of the six-person IFNU, on a patrol of the Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh reserves.
With its immediately recognizable wolf and Thunderbird cruisers, the IFNU is made up of officers from the North Vancouver RCMP and the West Vancouver police, with one officer posted in Squamish and the rest serving the North Shore.
The IFNU is the only joint police unit of its kind in the country, and for their innovative approach to community policing and cultural education, the unit deserves recognition.
5 Tim Jones
He didn’t need a medal from the province to tell him he’s made a big difference in the lives of British Columbians in 2011.
But for Tim Jones, receiving the Order of B.C. in Victoria this year was just icing on the cake.
Jones is widely known as the godfather of the all-volunteer North Shore Rescue team and pioneer of the long-line helicopter rescue procedure which has since been used to save so many from the mountains of the North Shore and beyond.
Participating in countless search and rescue operations in 2011 alone, Jones regularly puts in a 50-hour volunteer work week and has raised more than a million dollars to fund NSR’s work.
Over two decades, Jones has built NSR into one of the North America’s premiere search and rescue teams, locating more than 1,000 missing persons and rescuing many more.
6 Ililo and Fatuma Mayaliwa
North Shore couple Ililo and Fatuma Mayaliwa have risked their own safety to help rebuild the lives of rape victims in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
When they trekked through remote villages in the eastern countryside of the war-ravished nation during the summer of 2010, countless abused women begged the couple to free them from their predicament. When the Mayaliwas returned home to the North Shore they felt as if the weight of the world was on their shoulders. A decision was then made that would change the trajectory of their life.
Taking an education-based approach, the couple began paying out-of-pocket to start three schools in the DR Congo for illiterate women who want to learn to read, write and calculate. On top of paying everyday bills to sustain their family of five, the Mayaliwas send $500 a month to the DR Congo to cover teachers’ wages, books and school supplies for 213 students in three villages.
7 Team Finn
When Patrick Sullivan rides his bike he thinks of his son, Finn. Especially the way Finn lived his life, “running, jumping, bouncing, dancing, singing, loving, smiling and riding.”
Finn was 21-months-old when he was diagnosed with a rare childhood cancer called Rhabdomyosarcoma in February 2007.
The young boy underwent chemotherapy, radiation treatments and surgeries, but the cancer came back. Finn passed away in October 2008, and since then his family has set out to raise money for cancer research in his honour.
This year Patrick rode in the 58-participant 2011 Sears National Kids Cancer Ride, cycling across Western Canada to raise money and awareness.
In the past three years, Team Finn has raised more than $1 million for the BC Cancer Foundation. For more info, visit teamfinn.com.
8 Riley Senft
West Vancouver doctor Riley Senft ran across Canada in 2011 to raise money and awareness to fight prostate cancer.
Covering an average of 70 kilometres a day — or, more than a marathon and a half every 24 hours — Senft completed his cross-country run from Cape Spear, N.L. to West Vancouver on Oct. 7 after 154 days of running.
In the process, Senft raised more than $544,000 in pledges to help fight the disease that claimed his grandfather and afflicted his father.
With his slogan “One Finger Can Save Your Life,” Senft’s mission to break down the discomfort many men feel asking their doctor to check the health of their prostate was a national success.
“When he sets his mind to a goal, I’m confident he will achieve it,” Senft’s proud father and told The Outlook at the time his son was just starting out.
9 Operation: Kandahar
North Vancouver surgeon Jamie Dunwoody spent a month this year operating at Kandahar Airfield, one of the busiest combat hospitals in Afghanistan.
A far cry from the already hectic schedule he’d experienced at Lions Gate Hospital, to be sure, and one few can prepare themselves for.
“We were attacked every single day. Rockets flew around the base non-stop,” Dunwoody told The Outlook.
During his first day on the job, the North Van doctor treated victims of a roadside bomb. Improvised weapons accounted for 80 per cent of all patient visits, he estimated.
Dunwoody also operated on Taliban soldiers — all of whom were wheeled before him wearing ear muffs and blindfolds so they couldn’t hear or see anything.
“We would take off our name tags too and they would be guarded 24 hours,” he added.
“And it was odd because a lot of the times the person who wounded them would end up guarding them.”
10 Haleh Bahrami
Three years ago, Iranian PhD student Mona Zarei was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder known as PNH, causing her to be repeatedly hospitalized. After battling the incurable disease for three years, doctors concluded that her only hope would be a bone marrow transplant. After searching through numerous donor banks, doctors have been unable to find a successful match.
In an effort to save Mona’s life, West Van resident Haleh Bahrami (pictured above) organized a donor drive in Park Royal Shopping Centre that target potential donors of the same ethnicity because such donors produce the most matches.
The successful drive saw nearly 1,200 people register as donors and also raised awareness about being a stem cell donor, especially among ethnic groups whose registered donors are typically low.