August 2022 Red Lake Ontario
Last year at this time we were facing the uncertainty of a cancer diagnosis for Mark. The rituals of Christmas, especially time with family, felt even more significant than usual. Our original plan was to be in Red Lake for Christmas after spending the fall in Victoria . However, with Mark’s diagnosis in November and his surgery slated for January in Victoria, we stayed in BC. Although we had still hoped to spend New Year’s week in Winnipeg with family and friends, the COVID upsurge near the end of December extinguished those plans. Luckily both Kate and Emma as well as Em’s fiancé Sergiy were able to travel to Victoria so we could spend Christmas together.
December 2021 Victoria BC
We were lucky to have a circle of support around us, even when the girls returned home, as Victoria is home to Mark’s sister and her husband as well as Christine’s brother and his family. We also felt, and appreciated, the support of family and friends farther away, so thank you for that! This was especially true during Mark’s surgery and recovery, and again when we had to put off returning to Ontario in spring once it became clear that his surgery had not removed all the cancer. He underwent a course of radiation and started on medication before we were finally able to leave Victoria.
By the time we did return to Red Lake in June, Mark had made the decision to retire from the Red Lake Medical Clinic and enjoy life on Vancouver Island year round. Because Christine’s climate and healing work is entirely online these days, she can work from anywhere. And so we began the bittersweet undertaking of getting our house ready for sale and putting it on the market. It might not be a surprise to you to hear that a few (!!) tears were shed as we said goodbye to the beautiful lakefront house and the community that we called home for 21 years.
Many people made this difficult task a bit easier for us. A big thank you to our daughters, who once again made time in their busy lives to support us, as did Kate’s fiancé Kevin. Emma even negotiated with her new employer, Queens University, to start her job as a Palliative Care specialist in September rather than July. And Kate and Kevin allowed us to “gift” them with lots of our stuff that was looking for a good home!
Christine’s brother Rick and his lovely partner Jen also deserve a shout out, as they made time in their demanding schedules to come out to Red Lake to help us paint (Jen is a pro!) and tidy up the yard. And a special thank you and miigwiich to Donna Williams. Christine and Donna have been friends since they worked together at Keewaytinook Okimakanak (Northern Chiefs) 21 years ago, but Christine only learned this summer that Donna’s superpowers include house staging AND the generosity to loan us exactly what we needed to make the house look perfect.
Luckily we still had time this summer to enjoy three canoe camping trips in Woodland Caribou Park and environs. We consider ourselves fortunate to have lived so close to Woodland Caribou for two decades. In 2018 the park, as part of the Pimachiowin Aki region, was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for both its cultural and natural significance.
In August, Mark’s family made it up to Red Lake for a farewell visit.
And in September, the clinic, hospital and community of Red Lake said farewell to Dr Polle.
X-ray technician and musician Jada Siwak sings a tribute to Mark, September 2022 Red Lake Ontario
By the end of September we were as ready as we were ever going to be, so with the help of AMJ Campbell movers we headed west, to take up the challenge of putting down roots in an urban setting in a new province.
Our new address is: 1040 Bank Street, Victoria, B.C, V8S 4B4.
Our email addresses and cell phone numbers remain the same.
You can follow Gemmy on Instagram (@adventuregemmy) for her updates.
Please get in touch if you are visiting the island!
July 2022 Onnie Lake Ontario