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Courage and Compassion:  B.C. Healthcare Heroes

This show was held from February 15 - February 20, 2022 at the Gage Gallery.

As a nurse, Darla worked at Fraser Health Authority in British Columbia, Canada. 

Artist’s note: Darla did not want to be interviewed for this project because of the challenges she faced at the beginning of the pandemic. She told me she was traumatized and has since left the Abbotsford Hospital and is now working in another area of healthcare.

I painted a golden angel’s halo on Darla to honour the sacrifice and contributions she has made, and is making, to patients and British Columbians.

Sargun works as a respiratory therapist in the Fraser Health Authority in British Columbia, Canada. 

"I lived in the basement for a month when COVID 19 first hit us in March. I was afraid that I would infect my mom and brother, so I didn’t see them for a while. As time went on, my mom got tired of me living in the basement and told me to come back upstairs. By then, we knew a bit more about COVID 19 and I was able to take all the right precautions so that they didn’t catch the virus..."

Fiona works at the Abbotsford Regional Hospital in British Columbia., Canada

'Every day I went into work, I was terrified for my healthcare colleagues and my family at home. At first, we didn’t know a lot about the virus and our protocols had to be changed daily as we learned more and more. Although we had a pandemic plan, we had to start from scratch, because COVID 19 was like nothing we had seen before..."

I am a former employee of the B.C. Ministry of Health and completed the project called: "B.C.'s Healthcare Heroes." I have offered healthcare workers a FREE COPY of a portrait of themselves in exchange for sending me a photo of them working on the job. The concept behind the project is to celebrate and honour the sacrifces that our healthcare workers are making during this unprecedented time of the Covid 19 pandemic.

The last worldwide pandemic was in 1918 and many countries tried to cover it up by placing a media ban on photos and stories about the Spanish flu. At the time, leaders did not want to divert attention away from the war efforts. Therefore, there are not many photos or stories from that time, so I want to document this important time in history by the people who are giving so much to society today -- our healthcare heroes. I have interviewed each healthcare worker and wrote a short story about their experience during the pandemic.

It took me a year to complete 20 portraits of healthcare workers from the Fraser Health Authority, the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority and Island Health Authority.  In 2020, these portraits hung in Dr. Bonnie Henry's office hallway as part of a tribute to our outstanding Provincial Health Officer.  In 2021, they were hung at the Ministry of Health in the lobby.  As well, I spoke before the International Association of Public Participation and the National Health Engagement Network on how to engage communities through artwork.  And, the Victoria Hospital Foundation used one of the images for its Mental Health and Addictions campaign. 

This show was held at the Gage Gallery from February 15 - 20, 2022.  More than one million people were engaged with this community art and story exhibit, based on the media coverage from CTV, CBC Radio News, CHEK TV, Monday Magazine, Times- Colonist, Oak Bay News, Victoria News, Saanich News, Sooke Mirror, Peninsula News, Victoria Buzz and Shaw Spotlight TV and the people that came to the gallery to see the show.  More than sixty people a day visited the gallery during this five day exhibit. 

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry visited the show on Opening Night, along with the healthcare heroes, their families, friends and people from the local community.  

Visitors to the gallery openly wept as they viewed the portraits and read the stories.  I was amazed at how art can be a powerful force for people.

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