Since its inception in 1985, the Victoria Chapter of the Canadian Celiac Association has supported celiacs from all over Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. Celiac volunteers came to the assistance of others at a very critical time – when they were first diagnosed with celiac disease. Christine Rushforth said, “I remember meeting up with Marie Heckert 17 years ago at Lifestyle Market—where she showed me products I could eat and gave me a goodie bag with a wealth of information. Marie was a life-saver and I was eternally grateful for her knowledgeable help when I was struggling to come to terms with a disease I had never heard of, one that was to change my life.”
The Chapter’s Anti-Panic Sessions for the newly diagnosed offered a warm welcome, information and understanding – and even a few laughs. The classes were made available not just to celiacs, but to their extended family and friends. It takes a household – if not an entire community – to support a celiac.
These selfless efforts often inspired those new to the diet to become volunteers themselves; taking a turn at Executive positions, steadfastly stepping up to set up and take down chairs at events, make coffee, barbecue (gluten-free) hot dogs and hamburgers, or cook entire turkeys and all the fixings for the Chapter’s flagship event – the Christmas Potluck!
In her email announcement to the membership on August 4, 2015, Anne Wraggett President, National Board of Directors Canadian Celiac Association – and herself a Victorian – shared, “We are proud of our history and the support we have provided to countless hundreds of people with celiac disease or other gluten intolerance in Victoria, up island, and through the Gulf Islands. Members have enjoyed many years of fun events, terrific food, supportive social times, and an outstanding bimonthly newsletter. In 2008, we very proudly hosted one of the most successful national CCA conferences ever held. But times have changed.”
Anne went on to assure, “All members of the Victoria chapter are members of the Canadian Celiac Association. Your membership carries on despite the demise of the chapter. You will continue to receive national newsletters and other communications and services from national such as eNews. CCA National continues to work on your behalf in areas of advocacy and education. As the local Anti-Panic sessions are critical to providing support to the newly diagnosed, these sessions will continue to be conducted by local CCA volunteers.”
“The last issue of Victoria Celiac News was Volume 24 Issue 3, July/August 2015. There will be no further Victoria Chapter newsletters. The website (www.victoriaceliac.org) will remain available until the final wind-down, after which it will disappear,” said Anne.
A final ‘Chapter’ event – the Summer Picnic – took place August 16, 2015 at Gyro Park featuring the Chapter’s own dedicated gluten-free barbecue – the ‘Patty Wagon.’ As was customary, people were encouraged to bring a large salad or dessert sufficient to serve 8 to 12 people. Bring a lawn chair or picnic blanket and join the fun!”
Those were the days.