Raising Awareness – Breaking the Silence

Today all the work of the past few months has come together and many pieces have fallen into place. I am very excited to see that people are reacting to the stories, quotes and material I have put out in the past few days. And I am very thankful to a lot of people who have shown their support to make this happen. And I am tired…

The advocacy work and our little daughter who I want to spend as much time as possible with are the reasons why my posting frequency on this blog has gone down. At the beginning I managed to write several posts per month, but now it seems I am lucky to finish one post per month. But believe me when I say that I am still spending far too much time in front of the computer. I decided to do a recap of the milestones and achievements over the last little while. This allows me to thank a lot of people as well!

October 15
In March I completed the October 15 website and have constantly been extending it. Special thanks go to Ivy, Florine and Erin for their help with the site. I have to admit that I underestimated how difficult if would be to find and list the various events in the event listing. But during the process of identifying the events I was able to connect with many organizations and families across Canada which has been a wonderful experience. So many people are volunteering their time to raise awareness and support bereaved parents and hopefully this project can bring more attention to these activities on a national level.

UBC Your Evolution
In May I entered the October 15 website into the UBC Your Evolution competition. It took lots of time and emails to garner support from friends and family and many other people to vote for the project. Although we did not take the lead we came in second and since then it has been great to receive support from UBC in creating more awareness. I would like to thank Juliana for her help with the project.

With the help of our local MLA Kerstin and I got October 15 proclaimed again in the province of British Columbia which was great to receive this acknowledgement. Additionally, I learned that cities proclaim awareness days as well which led me to start a campaign across Canada to have the day recognized. It involved being in touch with families from all over the country and working with them in requesting such proclamations.

  • I got Vancouver to proclaim the day.
  • Thanks to Ivy the City of Richmond proclaimed the day.
  • Thanks to Jessica and Lara the City of Victoria proclaimed the day.
  • Thanks to Lara the Dictrict of Saanich proclaimed the day.
  • Thanks to Becky the province of Saskatchewan as well as the Cities of Estevan and Prince Albert proclaimed the day.
  • Thanks to Sheri the Langley council mentioned Pregnancy and Infant Loss during a televised council meeting.
  • Thanks to Sandy the Cities of Courtenay and Campbell River proclaimed the day.
  • Thanks to Tiny Hands of Hope Grande Prairie proclaimed the day.
  • Thanks to Cheryl Strathcona County proclaimed the day.

You can view images of the proclamations in our Flickr album.

After receiving support from BC Place Stadium in 2013 it was wonderful to continue this relationship and receive support again for 2014. The stadium which is such a focal point in Downtown Vancouver will light up to support our awareness efforts on October 15. I am excited that Telus World of Science will support us this year as well. I am convinced that both venues will look fantastic when they illuminate in pink and blue in honor of all the children. I am very grateful for the support both venues are extending to our campaign.

I tried to identify one landmark in each province that would light up for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness, but that proofed to be more difficult than anticipated. Ontario is well represented due to the wonderful work of PAIL Network. They succeeded in getting CN Tower, Niagara Falls and Peace Bridge to show their support. After contacting about 20 venues many got back to me explaining that they either do not have lighting installations or that their installations don’t support different colors. I did manage to identify two landmarks that hopefully will support us in 2015 and additional ones that are currently upgrading their lighting so that they might be able to support us in 2015 as well. My goal of having one landmark per province illuminated might be achievable after all.

Media work
This is probably the most exciting part. I issued two press releases this year to highlight the Walks to Remember and the Awareness Day itself. Sadly, these did not get picked up by media. However, lots of interest was generated by a press release that UBC issued about our project. As a follow up to the Your Evolution project UBC decided to run a media story about Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness titled “Suffering in Silence over Infant Loss“. Thanks to Jessica and Heather for all their support with this story.

Based on this news release I was invited by the Huffington Post Canada to submit an article about October 15 which got published on October 15 with the title “Losing Your Child Can Also Mean Losing Your Support“. Two radio stations called and asked for interviews as well. It looks like I will be doing a live interview on the CBC Early Edition tomorrow.

Several weeks earlier I got in touch with Journalism students who very kindly volunteered to write a story about this topic. I helped them get in touch with bereaved families and health care providers for interviews and they did a wonderful job writing the story. The Vancouver Sun published the story in their online edition with the title “B.C. marks Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day“. Many thanks to Clea and Hala for their time and expertise to write the piece and to achieve this milestone for us. Thanks to Darryl for getting us in touch and thanks to Brianne for all her help with media stories as well.

Of course my biggest thanks go to my wife. Not only did she do wonderful work with our own photography to highlight the fantastic quotes that we collected from bereaved parents, but she supported me during this time with her encouragement and by allowing me to take the time to work on this project. Love you Kerstin!

Help break the silence!