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and strong after 25 years as East Sooke Women's Group
Spontaneous hugs were exchanged at the 25th anniversary
and reunion of the East Sooke Women's Support Group, held
at the Empress Hotel in Victoria.
By Erin Kelley
For the Sooke News Mirror
Kathy Plantiten moved to her log cabin tucked in the East Sooke
forest with her young family 25 years ago it was a dream come
true for her, although the realities of rural life were quick to
Popping down to the grocery
store was more like a journey. She could not see any neighbours.
Her sons had to ride a school bus two hours a day; they didn't
get back until supper time. Life was sometimes stressful, and
often lonely with limited access to resources needed to raise a
Plantiten decided to get
together with her friend Jan Stoppe and start a mothers support group
to offer learning events and networking to benefit not only for
themselves, but their children.
"The group gave a sense
of community," said Plantiten. "They had a neighbour even though they
couldn't see them."
Children may have
grown-up, many have moved away and still, the group survives today.
They have matured from a mothers support group into the East Sooke
Their 25th anniversary
and reunion was a grand celebration at the Empress Hotel in Victoria.
Past members travelled from all over BC to make it to the event. Old
photos, hugs and stories where passed around generously.
"We managed to stop
talking long enough to listen to everyone go around to hear where
their kids were," said Plantiten. "And everyone listened. It was quite
"It is still the same
feeling as 25 years ago; it is still support and friendship," added
Stope. "We will have the bond forever."
The group is no longer
as politically active today, but support for each other remains the
backbone of the group.
"Whenever there is a
death, when someone's trailer burnt down, someone is sick there are
people phoning to check-in," said Stope. "It's everlasting love and
In the early days of the
group, the women weren't just eating baked goods while they tested out
the latest in press-on nails - they were feisty bunch of moms,
promoting change in their community.
The group pushed for the
East Sooke community hall to be built, they raised funds for the
playground, pressed for Gillespie Road to be constructed to safer
standards and pressed for more school buses.
At the heart of the
mothers groups advocacy was giving isolated families a chance to come
together. Hosting parties that included the entire family were a
highlight of the women's memories.
"Santa came every year
on a fire truck and handed out presents to the kids," said Plantidin.
After a decade of giving
to their children and their communities, the women have earned the
right to focus on themselves.
The group organizes
weekends away, talks on menopause and walks along the Galloping Goose
"If you live side by
side with your neighbour, you might think you are closer but it may
not be true," Plantiten said. "When your out here tucked away you
don't see each other, but you know you have good friends out there."