Our stories about Island families

Stories of Islanders living with, loving, and remembering their family members

By Cameron Welch
February 20, 2023

Our stories about Island families

Stories of Islanders living with, loving, and remembering their family members

By Cameron Welch
Feb 20, 2023
The Al Musawi siblings reunite at a Victoria skating rink. Photo submitted.
The Al Musawi siblings reunite at a Victoria skating rink. Photo submitted.

Our stories about Island families

Stories of Islanders living with, loving, and remembering their family members

By Cameron Welch
February 20, 2023
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Our stories about Island families
The Al Musawi siblings reunite at a Victoria skating rink. Photo submitted.

Over the years, Capital Daily has been fortunate to be able to tell the stories of many different Island families of all kinds. From inspiring stories to difficult ones (and some that are both), we’ve detailed how far locals will go for their loved ones. Some have run hundreds of kilometres to help people like their relatives while others have travelled thousands of kilometres to reunite with their relatives.

These stories have included acclaimed books, artwork, and plays that people have made about their families. They have included practical sacrifices that people have made to try to put their families in a better position. And they’ve also included the incredible things local families have created together, from delicious food to successful businesses to catchy pieces of language to programs keeping languages alive.

We’ve collected a bunch of them together, we hope you’ll be interested in reading a few.

“You never feel lonely”: How one family keeps their culture close to home

Multi-generation homes are becoming more common in Canada. Last summer, Roxanna Rohani Mohtadi told us about what it’s like living with four generations under one roof.

These shots of unconventional brothers Mike and Nick were taken 17 years apart. Photos submitted

They’re unrelated and 50 years apart, but these two local men are brothers

Mike Wyeth and Nick Wesley were matched up in 2005 as part of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Victoria program after Wesley’s father died. Nearly two decades later, the two men see each other as a “second family” and still make sure they take time to play tennis, fish, watch hockey, and just hang out.

From Iraq to Victoria: UVic student reunites with her family during the pandemic

The Al-Musawi family finally came together in Victoria in 2020 after four years apart and after decades of moving—and trying to move—to different countries.

Generosity is the family business

Family-run charity Fateh Care brings free access to food, medical care, and more to hundreds of Vancouver Island residents. The Popli family sets aside income and time to feed neighbours—just as they were fed when they arrived in Calgary in the dead of winter. But it was in the extreme heat of summer, in the 2021 heat wave, that they likely made the biggest difference.

Photo: Emily Fagan / Capital Daily

Award-winning book honours author’s mother and aunt

Before she went on to win Victoria’s top prize for children’s literature, we spoke to author Wendy Proverbs about her book Aggie and Mudgy. Proverbs was taken from her birth mother in the Sixties Scoop, and grew up without her birth family—until one day her neighbour saw a familiar face in a Prince George paper. The young girl turned out to be Proverbs’s younger sister.

Proverbs spent years reconnecting with her siblings and finding out more about her birth mother, who had passed away in 1976. While completing her master’s at UVic in 2012, she received a memoir that held the story of her mother and aunt’s long journey of being brought to Lejac Residential School—a story that inspired the journey of the two fictional sisters in Aggie and Mudgy.

Kunji Ikeda’s new theatre show grapples with his family's internment... and it's a comedy?

Kunji Ikeda’s theatre show last spring in Victoria, Sansei, also explores a painful family history using art. Japanese internment took his grandfather away from a home on Chatham in Steveston, and left them in Alberta. For Ikeda and his father, the key to dealing with it has been humour—and so, despite its subject matter, Sansei is a comedy.

Running 216km for his mother, aunties, great-grandparents, and more

Sasha Perron is the first generation in his family who wasn’t forced to go to a residential school. To take on some of the burden that his older relatives have lived with, he started a 216km run that raised thousands for the Indian Residential School Survivors Society.

Sahsa Perron poses with his granny, Lily. Photo: Zoë Ducklow / Capital Daily

Oak Bay couple use 100km run to fundraise for cancer research

Last fall a local man ran an ultramarathon in honour of his late mother-in-law after she died abruptly from AML, a fast-acting leukemia.

Family members with Alzheimer’s inspire food fundraiser

Two years ago, the staff of the popular young Victoria restaurant Dumpling Drop organized a fundraiser to help the Alzheimer Society of BC, and their own family members with the condition. Founder Tarn Tayanunth also uses the dumplings’ success to help provide for mother Toom, who lost her job following her diagnosis and who learned the techniques to hand-make them from her own mother.

Family recipe helps fundraise for Ukranians affected by war

Tayanuth is not the only local to use family dumpling recipes to help others. The first pierogi Bella Montgomery ever made was shaped in her four-year-old hands as she sat on her grandfather’s knee. Last year, she taught others the family recipe as they attempted to set a world pierogi record to raise funds for Soroptimist International’s disaster relief fund.

Image by B. A. Lampman (Submitted)

Using art to work through the life and death of a parent

Caring for an ailing parent can be incredibly difficult, especially when the relationship was already fraught. Last summer we showcased the work of B. A. Lampman, whose artwork explored her time as caretaker for her mother following her diagnosis of Lewy Body dementia—a form of dementia characterized by vivid hallucinations or distortions of reality rather than memory loss.

Howie Siegel (left) and his brother David (right). Photo: Submitted

Iconic family-run Victoria businesses

It takes a lot of work, a lot of savvy, and a lot of passion to keep beloved local mainstays Pagliacci's and Bolen Books afloat (and in the family) for more than four decades. We profiled the families who managed to pull it off.

Continuing two fathers’ food legacies for hungry locals

Much of Sidney’s Chef on the Run’s menu of homemade English cuisine that Roy Greve served in 1997 remains the same even as the business passes down to a third generation of his family. His daughter Julia Ripley launched a Sidney spinoff with her husband, who taught their daughter all he knew about food and kitchens. But when he passed away suddenly in August 2021, the family had to rally to keep running the shop that so many locals depended on.

How the Elliott family helps keep SENĆOŦEN alive

When COSINIYE’s was 16, she new four languages, but none were her family’s traditional tongue. Moved by her desire to learn it, her father Dave Elliott created a written alphabet for the SENĆOŦEN language to help younger generations learn and continue to use their language. COSINIYE and her brother J'SINTEN (John Elliott) became the first students of the SENĆOŦEN alphabet, and have spent the last 50 years building off their father’s legacy and teaching it to other adults and children. 

Photo: Emily Fagan / Capital Daily

Local kid and dad want to make a unique word famous

For the past six years, Levi Budd and his father Lucky have been campaigning together to make Levi’s creation, “levidrome,” the official term for two words that spell each other in reverse.

Bridges helps set up fresh starts for newcomers escaping trauma

Starting over in a new city is hard. Doing that as a single mother coping with trauma and depression, as Theresa Fraser did in 2009 when she moved to Victoria from Nova Scotia with her daughter, is even harder. But when Fraser entered Bridges for Women Society’s employment program soon after, it quickly became her second home. She went on to not only establish a new career and provide for her daughter, but also became a mentor to others who are in the process of leaving unsafe home situations behind and start safe and independent new ones.

Grandmothers of steel

Local granny group Victoria Grandmothers for Africa rides bikes nearly 300km to raise money to help other grandmothers on the other side of the world. The funds they raise go to 15 sub-Saharan African countries hit by AIDS pandemic, where grandmothers often have to bury their own children and then become the primary caretakers of their grandchildren.

Lisbie Rae with Ida Mukuka Nambeya, Senior Advisor to the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign, visiting from Zambia. Photo: Submitted

Victoria’s fictional punk-rock family

The acclaimed debut novel from Susan Sanford Blades follows a mother and daughters who have to make their own way after the rocker father abandons them. It channels the spirit of Alice Munro in an unvarnished look at family life (and at Victoria).

Some of the region’s most dedicated parents are underwater

Just west of the Island lies one of the world’s only octopus nurseries, where parents protect their eggs for four years.

Drawn to the family business

The local comic book creator grew up with two of Canada’s prominent comics artists as parents.

“Home and restaurant combined”: A local couple’s dosa dream

A husband and wife do the cooking at Dosa Paragon, a local favourite where they follow family recipes and balance the work as a couple. 

Half a year after her disappearance, her parents are still going out looking

The disappearance of local woman Melissa McDevitt and the effect it has had on her family.

In his last days, a father sees his daughter on the national stage

Musical duo Old Soul Rebel was ferrying to the Island when they got two calls: one telling them to fly to Toronto immediately for musical competition reality show The Launch, and one telling vocalist/banjoist Lola Whyte that her father, who had been declining, was approaching the end of his life. Her father wanted to see her go out east and chase her dream.

How a lost doll crossed the Salish Sea to rejoin its family

It was a real-life Toy Story that brought Florence from North Van to Wise Island and back again to the waiting young Violet, whose sea captain father later mapped out all the ocean tides and currents the doll could have ridden.

Lost doll Florence rests safe at home with Violet. Photo (cropped) from Emily Myers.

This page has been updated with additional stories.

Article Author's Profile Picture
Cameron Welch
Newsletter Editor

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