Bursaries are presented by Lorene Benoit (polka dot dress) and Helga Lambrecht (black suit) to two ABE VIU students Danelle Alphonse (back to camera) and Julieta Harris. (submitted)

Cowichan Coffee Time: Mounties partner with CTRA, plus bursaries

• Cowichan Spirit of Women has accomplished a lot in the Valley since 1992. They are graduating into retirement, and passing the torch to younger women.

With funds raised over the years, CSW decided a fitting way to give back to the community was via bursaries. Since 2015 CSW has given six $500 bursaries to Cowichan graduating women pursuing further career education. This year CSW presented seven awards of $500, one to each high school and two to the VIU ABE graduates.

Those involved in the selection process were impressed by the achievements of these students.

“Their academic, athletic and volunteer experiences were so impressive, it was a difficult choice, as so many of these young women are deserving,” said Lorene Benoit, one of the founding members of CSW.

The winners are: Lauren Zarate, Cowichan Secondary; Mackenzie Peters, Lake Cowichan School; Kelsey-Kyla Pattie; Julia Peterson, Chemainus Secondary; Hanna Deener, CVOLC, and Danelle Alphonse and Julieta Harris, VIU.

CSW has raised money for African women’s co-op, participated in safety studies for the city, offered summer students job training, hosted a drop in centre, computer training, and sponsored many equality and non-violence educational events.

CSW is perhaps best remembered for hosting International Women’s Day in partnership with other Valley organizations such as CWAV and CIS, CFUW and Matrea. For more than 20 years, hundreds of women, men and children have attended the IWD potluck and entertainment, including the first Valley presentation of Vagina Monologues.

Helga Lambrecht and Benoit are two of the original founding members, who have supported this group for over a quarter of a century. The other long time directors are Virginia Radons, Patricia Eckhart Tranter, Carol Donnelly and Carol Jasperson. Many others have helped over the years.

CSW will continue the social gatherings at the Sands Reception Centre, free popcorn and beverages. These are open to everyone the first and third Thursdays of each month, at 7 p.m. Just show up to get on the list for future notices.

• On June 16, North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP partnered with the Cowichan Therapeutic Riding Association with several police officers volunteering to take Horse Handling training.

Members ditched their duty belts and uniforms and participated in the training that is provided to volunteers at CTRA. This training provided them with the tools required to be an onsite volunteer horse handler at their facilities located on the Providence Farm grounds.

CTRA provides an invaluable service to kids and adults in the community that may benefit from equine therapy. Some officers such as Staff Sgt. Chris Swain, have already been volunteering for a few years and see firsthand the benefits the riders and handlers experience.

“This could turn out to be a great partnership,” said Swain. “Not only will some of our officers come back to be volunteers with CTRA, but the horses are providing stress relief and therapy to our members as they manoeuvre through their high stress profession. Horses played an integral role in the history of the Mounted Police and are a Canadian icon to this day. Getting back to our roots in this fashion benefits everyone.”

“Volunteers with CTRA are not just horse-handlers or side-walkers,” said Jennifer Barnes van Elk of the CTRA. “They are important members of our therapy teams and act as critical role models for our younger participants. The relationships that develop between participants, families, volunteers, and staff members are instrumental to therapeutic outcomes. As such, we are so excited to welcome local RCMP members to our organization. We are also honoured to play a part in the RCMP’s long-standing tradition of horses in service.”

More information: www.ctra.ca

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