The bear in the woods

I went out for a walk yesterday. I’ve been trying to keep up with my daily Crunch hike up a 2km walk here in Coquitlam which is building up my level of fitness as it’s directly uphill the power line cut-line of the mountain.

I was feeling pensive and as I exited the house I thought I’d change things up, reviewing in my head about 3 other alternate routes in my part of town.   In the end I just felt my way along and adjusted my route as I felt led to.

I was into a wooded area just blocks from my house, and enjoying how the sunlight dapples itself thorough the leaves. I stopped to take a photo of the trail… then kept walking, and stopped to take another photo.   As I continued along I looked up and there before me was a medium sized black bear.. walking nonchalantly towards me about 5 yards ahead.

My initial response was, wow, what a great picture! But I quickly put that foolishness aside and looked for my exit. Luckily I was behind the college and the path took left just feet from me… I moved forward than took the exit trying not to panic. As soon as I had the turn and a tree or two between the bear’s view of me, I instinctively took off like a shot in mad sprint out toward the college and out of the woods.   The words “Don’t run” were going through my mind as I ran as fast as I could.

It took me about half hour to settle my nerves, and during that time I called my daughter to get her help in calling police or alerting the news to get the word out on social media. After all it was a Sunday evening and many people were out enjoying the summer day.

I hung around the area to warn anyone who was walking near…funny there were not too many people around at all.  I decided to continue my walk around Lafarge Lake and posted the second photo I’d taken online announcing I’d just seen a bear.

I dodged the wood trail after my circle around the lake and took most of the street way home, but just near there, I decided to quell my fears by walking a short distance through the woods to my home again, just to get settled.  It was beautiful.

When I got back to my computer I pulled up the last shot I took in the woods hoping that there would be some sign of the bear, and there he was… very unnoticeable in that last shot I took. I blew up that portion of the photo and indeed I had captured him.

It’s made me realize the importance of safety this time of year, and in particular in the area of Canada that I live.  A woman passed me a week prior on another trail which was very open with high traffic. She jingled as she walked. For bears I thought… She’s smart!  I should follow suit.

 

(ps. This sighting was at 5pm, June 29th on the Hoy Creek Trail, Coquitlam, just inside the entrance to the woods behind David Lam Campus, Douglas College)

Parental Alert: Is your kid getting high on cough syrup?

I was going through my house in Grand Bahama when we were packing for our upcoming exodus after an  8 year life in The Bahamas,   I came across a guitar case in a place I did not expect… it was in my laundry area hanging behind clothing items. I’d forgotten I put it there.

Memories flooded back of that time.  The day my daughter came out into the main area of our home and threw the guitar case into the middle of our lives… where her pain already was showing itself, mixed in with ours…

The guitar case, partially zipped open and full, revealed a myriad of empty cough syrup bottles and empty boxes of cough syrup pills. ..she was only fifteen years old.

The contents therein did not surprise me, but the amount did! We already knew, and she had recently acknowledged her addiction; we were fighting for her life.  In that one moment she’d taken the bold and blunt step to throw her condition into our faces right after arguing with us that she did not have any such addiction. I knew there and then it was my daughter’s cry for help, and I knew that no matter what, I would not stop until we resolved the situation.

What do we think when we see a drug addict on TV or in the streets? We may assume that they are beneath us, that they have little support, little income, but most of the time these people are just like you and me.  Many are capable of leading a ‘normal’ life  just like you and I, and they usually have money, or at least have parents that do. So what is the problem? I do not know… I only know of what I experienced. That being my daughter was altered after the divorce of her parents – trying to cope with her once surreal ‘perfect life’ now gone as she knew it.  We had lost her, amongst  her own fears and sorrows which projected ‘as real’ to her.

I could tell you stories of that time that could possible startle or shock you, but the  long and short of it is that my daughter was addicted to cough syrup – yup, good old Vicks, Triaminic, Robitussin and such. Where did she get this idea?  Well she is one smart girl, which is a good thing overall.  She has always been a seeker of knowledge, and that is how she found out about it. She found information online, actually a forum (forums were big back then) and on this particular forum she had to write an essay to be accepted into it – many members were adults, even ‘doctors’ she  boasted when telling us about it later. It also didn’t help that consuming ‘purple drank‘ was being popularized by popularized by several prominent hip-hop artists.

My daughter gained acceptance to ‘the forum’ and behind her closed bedroom door she began experimenting with cough syrup, which contains a derivative of speed. Not only that, but she also read and learned about the natural drug, nutmeg.  Yes, nutmeg! Apparently if you grind nutmeg and ingest it, you will get high.  All this she began photo documenting as part of her membership on this forum.  At one time, a member even died, and it was being discussed in our household and on the forum.

I go into drug stores and see the liquid (slang name, Purple Drank or Sizzurp) at waist height… so accessible to to fast hands even if someone doesn’t have the money to purchase it. Parents and store owners everywhere need to know about this drug which has gained popularity, because anyone can go purchase it, and hence why it’s called a ‘legal drug’.  Anything containing codeine should be by prescription.

My daughter, who gave me the okay to write this, made it through that time, and she’s now a vibrant young adult and university graduate working hard at her future. Her teeth are extremely weak today and I think it’s due to the cough syrup.  She lost almost 2 years of her life due to this toxic mix.  She has little memory of the things that took place then, which may be a good thing.  During that time she lost weight,  slept for hours and hours after being up on a high for often 2 full days…

She slept in the day, and was awake most of the nights. During the worst she said such things I had no idea where she could have the knowledge or verbiage to say, and I am not talking about swearwords either.  There were many episodes that turned our family life into living nightmares.  She was hypersensitive  and flew off the handle easily, at times becoming violent.  She had no appetite and complained of stomach pains.

Unfortunately in The Bahamas there was little support on Grand Bahama Island for drug addiction at that time. My friend in Nassau took her in for a couple weeks so she could see well-known psychologist Dr. David Allen. He reported that she was very smart  and had nothing wrong her with her other than her like for experimentation. He said she was actually extremely bright and talented – this I already knew!

I am glad to have my daughter back. When she was gone, she was gone. Her eyes and spirit were empty when she was high on cough syrup. It was like losing a child. We were lucky to win the battle and I urge all parents to be wary of this. Talk to store owners who carry these items openly on the aisles, and store owners please be wary of young people buying cough medicines in your establishment.

I am a lucky parent. My daughter survived, but I read countless stories online where many parents lost their children as they went on to harder street drugs, and they could no longer allow their child’s abusive behaviour in their homes, so they subsequently lost them altogether.

BE AWARE! Here is some information:

Cough Preparations
Many cough preparations, especially cough suppressants, contain codeine or DXM (Dextromethorphan). Codeine and other opiates are very effective cough suppressants, but they are addictive. DXM, a powerful psychoactive drug, is particularly addictive. Cough syrup abusers can obtain the drug from their doctors by complaining about coughs and other cold symptoms. Ingredients in many cough preparations are considered to be dangerous in combination with other drugs, particularly antidepressants (including SSRI medications and MAO Inhibitors), antihistamine allergy medications, and Yohimbe.

Addicts commonly point to three reasons for using cough syrup:

It’s legal (and therefore more acceptable)
It’s low-cost or free
It’s seen as being safer than other drugs of abuse.

Methods of Use
Some addicts drink cough syrup undiluted or mixed with sodas. Others soak marijuana joints with the syrup. In some cities, an underground black market has developed for selling syrup. DXM can also be extracted from cough preparations and taken orally, injected, and occasionally freebased.

Types
Examples of cough preparations include Drixoral Cough Liquid Caps, Robitussin AC, Dectuss, Phenergan with Codeine, Phensedyl, and Pherazine with Codeine.

Effects on the Central Nervous System
DXM exhibits cough-suppressant functions by activating specific opioid receptors (sigma opioid receptors) in the central nervous system. In this sense, DXM functions like Ketamine or PCP. The sigma opioid receptor has been implicated in many of the symptoms of schizophrenia. DXM also affects receptors in the part of the brain called the cerebellum, which plays a role in coordinating movement. The involvement of cerebellum receptors may account for reports of peculiar reactions to movement among persons abusing cough syrup.

Intoxication
Cough syrup abusers use the drug to obtain a marijuana-like high with occasional auditory hallucinations and pleasurable reactions to movement. Other less desirable effects depend on the dose taken:

Depression
Dilated pupils
Dissociation
Dizziness
Fever
Hallucinations
High blood pressure
Hot and cold flashes
Impaired judgment
Memory disturbances
Nausea and other gastric disturbances
Panic attacks
Psychotic episodes
Rash
Sexual dysfunction
Sweating
Tachycardia (increased heart rate)

Life Risks
Aside from the risk of addiction, cough syrup use is associated with increased fatigue, poor coordination, constipation, urinary retention, and other problems. Overdose deaths have been reported. As mentioned above, DXM may be particularly dangerous in combination with other medications or substances, including:

  • “Non-drowsy” antihistamines (allergy medications) such as  Claritin, Seldane, or Hismina
  • MAO inhibitors (a certain class of anti-depressant)
  • SSRI antidepressants, such as Desyrel or Serzone
  • The herb Yohimbe / yohimbine

Any of these substances in the system at the same time as DXM can be fatal!

Withdrawal
Withdrawal from cough syrups can cause a range of unpleasant and dangerous symptoms, depending on the content dosage of the preparation. DXM withdrawal is characterized by depression and difficulties with thinking and memory.

Warning Signs
A person who is addicted to cough preparations may:

– Frequently purchase over-the-counter cough preparations
–  Buy cough preparations at different stores

 

(Photo credit for bottles on ground: Sumit Molhotra)

Indigenous Women Walk to Canada’s Parliament to Have Treaties Honoured

Ontario, Canada – On the 18th of June 2014, Indigenous elders from Onion Lake in Saskatchewan and Alberta performed a 12-hour ceremonial gathering called Iskewak Pasikowak (women rising up) on Victoria Island before walking to Parliament Hill in Ottawa. The event started with a ceremony at sunrise until 11:30 am and then they walked to Parliament Hill.

“Indigenous women rise up to protect the lands, waters and Peoples! Our Elders tell of a time when the Women of the Indigenous Nations will stand up to the protect the lands, waters and Peoples of their respective territories. Please join us as we protect the future for all Treaty Peoples,” is what their statement said on the Facebook event page.

Photo: Clayton Thomas-Muller
Photo: Clayton Thomas-Muller

Photographer, Clayton Thomas-Muller took these images and wrote on his Facebook page, “Today I sang with the O-Town Boyz on Parliament Hill here in Canada’s Capitol City. We sang an honour song to lift up the spirits of some very humble KooKum’s that were carrying powerful medicine to wake up our Treaty Peoples across these lands…my son Jaxson shook each of their hands and offered each of these sacred life givers tobacco that we picked up in Kanehsatake last weekend were we had traveled to great walkers who walked from the east in resistance to tar sands pipelines. The tobacco is a thousands years old strain of ceremonial tobacco grown by one of the local elders in Kanehsatake. As in the old days the spirits responded to today’s ceremony and the Thunderbirds are descending on Ottawa as I write to bring their sacred cleansing waters to bless these Grandmothers from Treaty 6 and all the peoples of our sacred lands.”

The group states, “The women of Onion Lake within the Treaty Six from western part of Canada, Alberta and Saskatchewan are going to be on Victoria Island to do a sunrise ceremony and other ceremonies are related to the role and responsibility of women and our caring for current and future generations. There has been so much hard done to our Nations especially against the women with the targeting of our Children for residential schools, the child welfare system and more recent issues related to the murdered and missing women.”

Iskewak Pasikowak (women rising up) in Ottawa on June 18th, 2014 Photo: Clayton Thomas-Muller
Iskewak Pasikowak (women rising up) in Ottawa on June 18th, 2014 Photo: Clayton Thomas-Muller

“We are not in Ottawa to request anything – the women are coming to offer their prayers and to state their message. It is a statement of strength and power of the Indigenous Women as the caretakers of Turtle Island and in this regard they would like to invite all sisters and supporters to participate.”

The assembled Elders shared their concerns in a spiritual event designed to take back the power over First Nations lands, water and Peoples. Remarks by Matilda Lewis can be heard HERE. Remarks by Gloria Chocan can be heard HERE.  The gathering of Elders and supporters concluded with a symbolic ‘walk away from’ Parliament, taking the power with them. Communicating with the spirit of the Ottawa River, the Elders walked away from Parliament to Westboro Beach, smudging and blessing the water along the way.

Iskewak Pasikowak (women rising up) in Ottawa on June 18th, 2014 Photo: Clayton Thomas-Muller
Iskewak Pasikowak (women rising up) in Ottawa on June 18th, 2014 Photo: Clayton Thomas-Muller
Iskewak Pasikowak (women rising up) in Ottawa on June 18th, 2014 Photo: Clayton Thomas-Muller
Onion Lake Cree Nation, Treaty Six, Chief Wallace Fox speaks in Ottawa on June 18th, 2014 (Photo: Clayton Thomas-Muller)
Photo: Clayton Thomas-Muller
Iskewak Pasikowak (women rising up) in Ottawa on June 18th, 2014 Photo: Clayton Thomas-Muller

The Curler Generation

curler-girlMy mother is from the curler generation. Not sure women of our era use them any more? I was always fascinated watching her at night… curler after curler. She’d do most of it without even looking. Sometimes I’d help and hand her her bobby pins. 

Those old bristly silver curlers…I wondered how anyone could sleep in them! As a child I loved when she’d put my hair up in curlers, but thankfully I had the pink sponge curlers, and those were bad enough for sleeping. My children loved curlers when they were little. “I look beautiful like Grandma,” they’d say as they toddled off to bed in pink sponge. 

Mom also did pin curls.. another dying art. Those really fascinated me. She was a pro at dissecting up her hair with her rat-tail comb, and wrapping each long bunch around her finger, then pushing it flat against her head and securing it down with one or two bobby pins. 

What really threw me off, was the next morning, after she’d take her pins and curlers out, she’s back comb the whole thing. I couldn’t figure out why you’d want curls, then brushed them out… Anyhow, that’s what she did, and she always looks amazing. The Queen’s hairstyle for most of her life. I mean Queen E of course.

Whether she had her curlers in or out she was always presentable (in this photo we were out shopping and she had her scarf thingy on her rollers). My mom was usually coifed to perfection, and always was one of the most beautiful women around. She still is at over 80. Long live the pin curl!

My angel wore lipstick and perfume

This was not 'my angel' but if you added 20 years, very tanned skin and a larger bust line, she comes pretty close!
This was not ‘my angel’ but if you added 20 years, very tanned skin and a larger bust line, she comes pretty close! “Just write the paper,” she said.

It was a typical evening  in Grand Bahama Island in the early 2000s. I’d met up with friends for drinks at Count Basie Square.  It was a hot sultry night, one where even the slightest breeze felt like a kiss from God.

I was in survival mode. Survival mode because I’d been dealing with a separation, which was a pretty big deal when you are living in a country where you are a foreigner. I had just finished working for Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean II and III, and I was trying to sort out my next move.   Surviving as a single mom with four children, amid the nastiness and pain of separation and divorce was taking its toll on me.

I was totally stressed out.  I did not want to move home to Canada as my ex lived on the Island and I wanted my children to be near their father.  I also was in love with the place, and that was reason enough to fight to stay.

A male friend in our group that night brought a guest along with him who was new to the island, staying at a rental in the gated community he lived in.  She was a blond and attractive American woman. I remember her very tanned skin, her eye makeup, her lipstick, and her ample cleavage; but I cannot remember her name.

She and I began talking and I openly shared some of my struggles, easy when someone is a ‘stranger’.  She listened intently and then said, “Can I tell you something? You may think I am crazy, but the angels talk to me…”

I told her I had no problem hearing anything ‘the angels’ had to say.

She then got very quiet, and I recall how very pensive I became. Then she calmly said, “The angels say that you are to start the paper. Everything will be okay, just start the paper.”

I thought, “The paper!?” as I could not understand the message. I knew I was not going to work for the island newspaper, The Freeport News.  I thought surely these angels had me all wrong or mixed up.

I took her message home with me, wrote it in my journal, and I never saw her again.  I forgot about what she said for quite some time.  I don’t even know if she ever returned to Grand Bahama, but today I see her as one of my life’s angels.

Like so many messages from above, they often don’t always make sense until some time has been put between them, and you have a look back – a reference. Today her message makes total 100% sense!

‘The paper’ is TheBahamasWeekly.com, of which I am editor and co-founder.  At the time I met this angel, I was already writing and sending out a weekly  email newsletter I’d created called “Freeport Announcements.”  I just hadn’t put two-and-two together when she said ‘the paper.’  She’d said, “I see pages and pages” and in my mind I was thinking ‘print,’ and it totally confused me.

It was only within months after that night, that I partnered with David Mackey to produce GBWeekly.com and within a year we created TheBahamasWeekly.com. Now ten year’s later and even though I’m living back in Canada, I am still working the news and events of The Bahamas from here.

Angels come in all shapes and sizes, and messages (signs) come from a variety of sources. It’s trusting that guidance along the way, and believing in your own dreams until they can unfold, as you may or may not have, imagined them.

“Miracles occur as involuntary effects of a loving personality, an invisible force that emanates from someone whose conscious intention is to give and receive love. As we relinquish the fears that block the love within us, we becomes God’s instruments. We become His miracles workers.” (A Course in Miracles)

You can read “Robbin Whachell and the History of The Bahamas Weekly”  here

A moment in the life of Firstina Baillou

Firstina Baillou passed away at the age of 104. I was sad to hear of her passing, but at that age death is imminent. I am blessed to say I knew Firstina Baillou, a resident of Sweetings Cay which is just off Grand Bahama Island in The Bahamas. Well I didn’t really “know her”, but I shared a moment with her, a very special moment.

I was invited along in 2009 to Sweetings Cay with Chantal Bethel, Laurie Tuchel and Lauren Austin to interview a 103 year old woman. My colleague Dave Mackey was filming the trip for an upcoming production for the Grand Bahama Heritage Foundation.

I love Sweetings Cay, and  hadn’t been since before the hurricanes so I jumped at the opportunity to tag along.

When we got to the Firstina Baillou’s little home I was not surprised as to what I saw, as I had walked the main road of Sweetings Cay many times. Leaving the boat it was only a few yards to the one road through town, and about ten more feet to the front door of her tiny little home on the other side of the road, which is truly ocean front property.

She was sitting in the corner in an easy chair with a warm hat and sweater on. Her skin showed the years upon her but I was surprised by the childlike quality that emanated from her glowing face. There was something so energetic about Firstina.

We were all introduced and visiting artist Lauren Austin sat in front of the matriarch to begin the interview and pulled open her sketch book and began to draw Firstina as they talked. About four or five of Mrs. Baillou’s family were in the small home with us, spanning a few generations no doubt; her daughter sat behind her on the arm of her chair, and her grandson , Rev. Pedyson Baillou stood in the room across from her helping field questions and answers, as well as some of her grandchildren were in the back area of the two room house.

Dave instructed me to sit next to Mrs. Baillou and to hold the microphone close so he could get adequate sound from the interview. I sat in a chair adjacent to Firstina. I sat quietly, but she must have sensed me because as as soon as I sat she immediately reached out to see who was there. She grabbed my hand, said nothing, and Lauren and the others began asking her questions about her early life at Old Freetown.

What was most incredible was that Firstina never took her hand off my hand for the entire hour or so we were in her home. She never asked who I was, she just never let go. Even when she turned to check that her 78 year old daughter was still at her side, she would turn her body, but never let go of my hand. From time to time she would just stroke the skin on my hand as she answered questions.

I still remember her skin and hand, and how it felt. The years of work, but with so much gentleness and strength. Her eyes, then blind with cataracts, showed so much light and life that when she told us about her past, the stories about her children and grandchildren, when she smiled or giggled I could almost see a glimpse of her as a young girl.

Alas, all good things come to an end, and our interview ended, and we had to get back on the boat to make the shallows before tides changed. We bid our farewells, and the last time I saw her it was her slight little figure leaning against the doorway entrance ‘listening to us’ leave, and as if watching us leave. I’d wished I’d taken that photo, as it was a classic.

The settlement of Sweetings Cay, along with all her family and friends will most certainly miss Firstina Baillou. What a gift and how wonderful to have captured some of her history and that conversation on tape; and the image of her loving presence on paper and pencil.

Through the Heritage Foundation’s research we’ve learned that her husband was the great grandson of Scipion Baillou, a slave brought from Africa to the Baillou plantation in Nassau who later landed on Old Freetown’s shore in Grand Bahama.  What a journey.

I am richer to have had that moment with Firstina Baillou. May the memory of her, and her history live on.

 

Reflection... the ride to Sweetings Cay can only be made by small boat as you cross many shallows (Photos seen here by David Mackey)
Reflection… the ride to Sweetings Cay can only be made by small boat as you cross many shallows (Photos seen here by David Mackey)

Publicist, writer, photo-journalist; and co-founder/ editor of one of The Bahamas’ leading news sites, TheBahamasWeekly.com, Robbin Whachell is a successful entrepreneur and pioneer in online marketing. Aside from being a recognized media personality and community builder, she is known for her networking and social media skills, and has a background in information management and film.

Vincent McDoom faces the biggest loss of his life

Written by Robbin Whachell (Left to right photos above: vintage Victoire McDoom (Vincent’s mother); Vincent McDoom at Labo Ethnik 2014 wearing Lyn Bristol; and vintage Victoire McDoom)

St. Lucian born Parisian fashion celebrity, Vincent Mc Doom,  has just been through one of the toughest times of his life! Two family tragedies hit  within 24 hours, and he had to choose between leaving a Paris fashion event he was responsible for, or return to St. Lucia to attend his mother’s funeral.   Adding  to the painful double loss, his brother was also seriously ill.

The famous actor, fashion icon, and Top Model judge last spoke to his mother on May 11th for Mother’s Day.  “I called to wish her a happy Mother’s Day as I do every year, and tell her that I love her,” he said. It was during that phone call that his mother, Victoire McDoom told her son that she had not been feeling well.  She passed the phone on to his sister, Cyrina, whom she’d been residing with.

McDoom’s sister told him she was going to be taking their mother in to the Victoria Hospital that day as her breathing problems were becoming more frequent after her strokes. The news was unsettling but Cyrina promised to keep him up-to-date on her progress.

On May 12th McDoom received a disturbing phone call from his sister-in-law Pearl Lambert advising that his younger brother Donavan was in Victoria Hospital in St. Lucia. He had suffered a major stroke and had been admitted the day before on his 43rd birthday.  McDoom was shocked with the news.

“I had two family in the hospital.  Mom was sent home early with medications, but my brother Donavan needed a brain scan so he remained,” said McDoom.

“On the 13th of May, and  with the help of some very prominent friends in St Lucia and the French Embassy, my brother Donavan was flown to Martinique for treatment, and the much required testing he needed. I have to wonder if he would have passed away  had remained at Victoria Hospital?”

During all of this McDoom was busy preparing for a major Paris fashion event he was both artistic and casting director for called Labo Ethnik.  “I felt better knowing my brother was in intensive care at the Martinique facility, but it was very hard having two family members in serious condition,” he said.  “I wanted to stop all my activities and head to the Caribbean immediately.”

With Labo Ethnik only a week away, and with  international designers and models he himself had cast  for the event converging in Paris, and a heavy schedule in place for fittings and rehearsals, a decision had to be made. “I just didn’t have anyone competent enough to replace me,” McDoom said. “So I  remained in Paris committing to  my contract.”

It was on May 16th that McDoom’s niece Sue-Ellen, who also lives in Paris, called to tell him to contact his sister Cyrina for she had received a text message from his nephew Dwayne that things were not looking good for his mother.

“I called my sister Cyrina and was only on the phone seconds before she told me she was rushing our mother  to the Victoria Hospital again. At the hospital, my mother Victoire McDoom, the wonderful, non-judgmental, very understanding, super-encouraging, with the sweetest disposition was confirmed dead.  She was 72. I felt lost, and empty, and the tears would not come for I still could not believe it.”

Vincent and his sister Cyrina would not speak until later that night. When they did, she had more news.  “When it rains it pours… ” he said. Cyrina told Vincent that their uncle Desmond had passed away just a few hours before their mother.

On May 16th, 2014 Vincent posted this photo of he and his mother (2013)  to his Facebook page and wrote, "Thank you mother... Nothing will ever be the same without you and your ever encouraging words every time I needed them... But God wanted you at his side and that I can't contest... Please have a safe trip sweet mother of mine... Your son Vincent"
On May 16th, 2014 Vincent posted this photo of he and his mother (2013) to his Facebook page and wrote, “Thank you mother… Nothing will ever be the same without you and your ever encouraging words every time I needed them… But God wanted you at his side and that I can’t contest… Please have a safe trip sweet mother of mine… Your son Vincent”

“That news was too much to handle, so I drowned myself in a very hectic work schedule preparing for the Labo Ethnik show that was less than a week away.  The presence of the models I had to train and my workload kept me going. Life took over and I did not have the time to even think since I was constantly going physically and mentally for the show. I was just like the Energizer bunny, always on the move,” said McDoom.

As the family started planning for the funeral, Vincent had to make a call about attending.  “I  probably made one of the most unselfish decisions of my life, I decided not to attend after speaking to my sister Cyrina and my father Justin Elcock.  I wanted my mother to go in peace and honor.  I did not want my arrival and presence in St. Lucia to upstage her memorial celebration. Being I am a celebrity on the island, I did not want her funeral to become a circus with press and photographers.”

“My family understood and I offered to help  with costs and decided I would later hold an intimate mass for my mom in Paris and again in St Lucia upon my next visit. That is all I could have done given the circumstances.”

The funeral for Victoire McDoom took place without Vincent in St. Lucia on May 30th. Vincent wrote on his Facebook page that morning, “I can’t see through the tears yet I am forced to continue, but that feeling of emptiness surrounds me especially today…. To my siblings Cornelious, Anthony, Cyrina, Cymee, Marz, and Madonna Mcdoom May The Lord give you guys the strength as the family gathers today for mothers send off… ”

When asked about the legacy his mother has left he said, “My mother gave all  five of us her good looks, her sincerity,  her humor, and her love for life.   She taught us to respect others, and to not be judgmental.  She taught us to be ourselves no matter who  or what we were up against… She gave me my strength of character and taught me to be honest and fare.  She was my light, she was my rock.”

A younger Vincent McDoom.  "My mother gave me my fashion je ne sais quoi"
A younger Vincent McDoom. “She gave me that fashion je ne sais quoi…” Vincent said recently about his mother. “”She was very supportive of the life that I had chosen for myself.”

Vincent McDoom was only  19 years old when he left St. Lucia and his beloved mother  to make his way into the European fashion scene.  He had received a scholarship to study in Paris. His training went on to include internships with Paco Rabanne, Guy Laroche, Guillemin, Angelo Talazzi,  and André Walker. For a brief period he worked as an assistant to Marc Jacobs.

“She was very supportive of the life that I had chosen for myself.  She encouraged me to leave the Caribbean and go in search of my dreams.  She was my number one fan.  Mom would often say to me,  ‘I am proud of you my son. You became your own man, and in your own way, and now you are respected for it… You are made in God’s likeness, so honor him always.'”

Vincent McDoom recalls one of his fondest memories of his mother, “On one of my visits home to St. Lucia I was caring a signature Louis Vuitton bag, the Keepall, and she liked it instantly and ask me for it.  I gave it to her without thinking twice, as she’s my mother, and I have more than one Louis Vuitton. For her it was normal, for me it was natural.  When I returned the following year it was raining quite heavily.  When I got to her home something caught my eye, and I saw her Louis Vuitton on the ground in the rain.  I continued in and greeted my mother, then asked her what the bag was doing outside in the rain. She replied quite innocently saying,  ‘Oh no, my cha coal bag (coal bag) is getting wet, please get it out of the rain.’  Yes, my mother was using her Louis Vuitton as a ‘coal bag’ to keep her fire going, and I thought wow, that was so very chic!  She had no idea of the price nor the value of that bag and I looked at her and smiled and told her its history.   I promised my mother that I would ask my friend Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton’s artistic director at the time to design a ‘cha coal bag’ especially for her.”

With the Labo Ethnik 2014 successfully behind him, and the funeral now over, Vincent McDoom is still in mourning, as the loss of a mother is something one never gets over.  The tears found their way out and Vincent has openly expressed his gratitude for the outpouring of support he has received family, friends and fans on his social media pages.  He found great comfort during Labo Ethnik with the company of St. Lucian designer and friend, Lyn Bristol, writing, “Safe trip back to St. Lucia Lyn. You will be missed and thank you for all you gave to me, especially at this particular moment in my life… Our late night chats and your hugs eased the pain of mother’s passing. For that I am eternally grateful.”

And to the Labo Ethnik models he wrote, “I want to thank all of my fabulous and considerate models who worked with me on the recent edition of the #Laboethnik. For all the kind condolence messages they have been sending to me, especially today (May 30th).”

Vincent is looking forward to his return to St. Lucia later this year to reconnect with his family, and honour his mother. “My latest movie roll in Kickback  is in homage of my mother Victoire McDoom, and so will be my next big event for St Lucia later this year, which I will name after her.”

“If I could speak to my mother one last time I would thank her for giving me life and remind her how exceptional she was,  like all mothers are to their sons… I would also tell her that she was and will always be my idol, and I think of her with every passing hour.”

“The memory of Victoire McDoom will live on… I will see to that.”

On May 16th, 2014 Vincent posted this photo of he and his mother (2013)  to his Facebook page and wrote, "Thank you mother... Nothing will ever be the same without you and your ever encouraging words every time I needed them... But God wanted you at his side and that I can't contest... Please have a safe trip sweet mother of mine... Your son Vincent"
On May 16th, 2014 Vincent posted this photo of he and his mother (from 2013) on his Facebook page and wrote, “Thank you mother… Nothing will ever be the same without you and your ever encouraging words every time I needed them… But God wanted you at his side and that I can’t contest… Please have a safe trip sweet mother of mine… Your son Vincent.”