Jenefer was born in London, England, during WWII. She worked her way up the career ladder to become Human Resources Manager at Daniel J. Edelman Public Relations. She was destined to remain an independent career woman until she met Michael on an overnight train to London, returning from separate hiking/climbing holidays in Scotland. (Michael was born in northeastern Manitoba in a forest community and spent his spare time exploring lakes and rivers by canoe and on snowshoes. He went to university in New Brunswick and Manitoba, graduating from the University of Winnipeg and started in business with HBC and BMO, eventually moving to the UK to work in the book and art trade).
Attracted to someone who loved outdoor activities as much as she, finally they married in 1976 and had a son, Stewart. Michael persuaded her life was better in Canada so in 1978, she emigrated to Winnipeg with him. Quite a change for Jenefer, especially winters, so she has empathy with any newcomer experiencing such a transition. Gardening, which is part of her soul, had to be re-learned; she adapted to new sports of canoeing, sailing, and skiing encouraged by many friends. Michael went back to work for HBC and Royal Doulton until a transfer moved them to Aurora, Ontario, their home for the next 20 years. She joined Pine Tree Potters’ Guild, returning to a former hobby – creating, teaching classes and exhibiting pottery.
They formed their own tableware importing company in 1990, eventually retiring and moving in 2005 to Pinawa on the Winnipeg River, back in Manitoba to be closer to Michael’s aging mother, and where they could again enjoy favourite outdoor pursuits as well as drama and pottery. Their son married and settled in Sooke so in 2013, they decided to move there to be part of the lives of their grandchildren. There are now three lovely intelligent descendents!
They heard of a project situated in a most gorgeous, peaceful part of central Sooke, overlooking the sea and mountains that couldn’t be more appealing. So they attended an information session about West Wind Harbour Cohousing, feeling they wanted more companionship of like-minded people and the opportunity to share activities in a friendly community. They had been active volunteers in a variety of organizations in other towns: working with Aurora Heritage, helping organize the International Envirothon Competition, Manitoba Triathlon, Pinawa Drama Society. Michael volunteered on the Board of Directors of the Model Forest Organization, involved in encouraging sustainable forest practices, educating First Nations youth in the use of forest resources, and the support of primary research of moose and caribou habitat.
We were the first family to move into the (almost) completed condominium on February 17, 2021 and were quick to find (like many who followed), that we had not downsized enough! Much was donated to West Wind Harbour and is still enjoyed and used in common spaces throughout the building.
Sadly Michael did not have long to enjoy our new home. My partner of 50 years was diagnosed with leukaemia in May and died just one month later.
That was when I discovered another blessing of cohousing that had never been on my radar – a caring community. A spontaneous outpouring of help and care for the needs of Michael and support for me in every possible way as I tried to nurse him at West Wind. Driving him to hospital appointments, bringing in meals, taking me out, hugs, helping me with the computer, paperwork, or fixing things. Amazing! Somebody was always there to keep me going.
Finally, they held a Celebration of Life in the gardens for the man who had done so much during the development process. A ceremony to beat all ceremonies! My wonderful new friends thought of everything. And it doesn’t stop there – care for others.
Want a lift somewhere? Need something repaired? Missing a meal ingredient? Help moving something? Company at an event? Just ask and it is done! The camaraderie experienced attending project meetings was amazing, and it doesn’t disappoint – we are one big, happy, caring family as we continue with organizational meetings, coming to agreement on all aspects of running our home. Volunteering and participating in a friendly way are the keys to happiness – we help each other and share the chores, joys and life events, looking after where we live in Community.