The Week – March 24

Public market proposal, guide puppy fostering and epilepsy awareness

Could you give up this face?

Waxy market mayhem

Could Victoria handle two public markets?

After Victoria Pub Company founder Matt MacNeil came out as the third bidder for the Royal London Wax Museum hot spot, his plans for throwing a professional downtown public market into the location have some pondering, “Hey, weren’t we already talking about this?” Yes, but MacNeil’s plan has nothing to do with the original.

“We have no problem with someone who is able to come in and provide the kind of services we’ve been working toward providing — we just want to make sure it’s going to be done right, and not water down a solid message,” says City counsellor Philippe Lucas, who has been the lead voice behind this past year’s Downtown Public Market Society initiative.

Lucas says a meeting is planned between the society and MacNeil to see if aims for the new market could be supported or even helped by the society if MacNeil’s weighty application to the Provincial Capital Commission goes through.

“It is very exciting, and I think this just speaks to how important local, sustainable food resources are to people,” says Lucas. “Hopefully we can all work together to bring these offerings to a community that clearly wants them.”

Meanwhile, the society will be hosting its own market lovechild events once a month in Market Square starting Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

They call it puppy love

For anyone feeling a little lonely at home as of late, your pining heart is about to find an answer: become a foster parent for a guide puppy.

Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind is seeking foster parents for their newest litter of puppies in the Victoria and south Island region. But housing a future guide dog isn’t like any other pet — it comes with a strict set of requirements. Foster parents must be home most of the day, or obtain permission to take the dog to work. While all food and veterinary expenses are provided, raising and training the dog falls to you — including the expectation for daily long walks in all weather conditions and toting the dog to as many places as you can. Then, after the 12 to 18-month commitment you’ve put in, when the dog is ready to enter into formal training at the National Training Centre of Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind, you must be prepared to give your foster pooch up.

“It can be an emotional process, but it’s also very rewarding,” says Steven Doucette, special events manager with Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind. “One of the nice things we offer is a chance for the foster family to meet the blind person who will become the dog’s new owner.”

If the dog doesn’t qualify for the guide program, the organization would sell the animal and the foster family gets first right of refusal. However, Doucette says that’s a rarity with how much attention the animals are raised with.

“It’s a great opportunity to focus on how you’ll be helping another person, and also a chance to take a year — instead of 15 — to find out if a dog works with your family,” says Doucette, adding that some families decide to get another puppy before the first one goes to ease the change, or just keep fostering within the program. “People compare it to sending a child off to university. Often it’s the adults — more than children or the dogs themselves — that have a hard time with the transitions.”

While the program is seeing more litters than usual this time of year, Doucette says they are always looking for willing “Puppy Walkers” — people who’d like to enter the program. Visit guidedogs.ca, or call 604-270-2432.

Purple power

Three years ago, a nine-year-old Nova Scotia girl told her classmates she had epilepsy. She worried her friends would make fun of her or treat her differently — at least, that was until she came up with the idea for Purple Day, where people would wear purple to show support for those living with epilepsy. Cassidy Megan won the support of all her friends. Now, the day that celebrates support for 300,000 people in Canada and 50 million people worldwide is honoured all over the globe. And in Victoria, the efforts are in full force.

“One of the key things we have to realize is that stigma is still a problem for so many people living with epilepsy,” says Catriona Johnson, executive director of Victoria Epilepsy and Parkinson’s Centre (VEPC).

The centre will be hosting a number of events around Victoria throughout the week, including guest appearances from “purple ambassadors” in schools and at libraries, and talks in various locations around town. While the matter is close to Johnson’s heart — she has a 23-year-old daughter with epilepsy — she says it’s important that people do take time to understand the condition, both for diagnosis and in order to potentially aid someone in need. Currently, reasons for the disorder are still largely mysterious, and there is no “safety age” when you’re out of risk. However, it’s most common with young children and seniors.

“There are still a lot of misconceptions about epilepsy, like what to do when someone is having a seizure — you do not put something in their mouths to prevent them from swallowing their tongue, for example,” Johnson says.

For a full list of Purple Day events, or to learn more and get involved, visit vepc.bc.ca, or purpleday.org.

 

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