Neil Cooke-Dallin, from Victoria-based band Astrocolor, participated in the “Blooms for Benefit” calendar. (File contributed/ Tristen Williams)

Victoria business responds to downtown attack with mental health initiative

Bespoke Blossoms created a charity calendar following an attack with a field hockey stick

A local Victoria business has taken a vicious attack and turned it into something positive.

In May, a staff member from Bespoke Blossoms was one of the five individuals attacked by a man with a field hockey stick in the downtown core. The attacker had been going through a mental health crisis during this time.

READ MORE: VicPD defend decision not to warn public after initial attack

“We sat down and had a conversation in the emergency room that night,” said Annise Lorel, owner of Bespoke Blossoms. “We knew that while it was terrible for us, that the experience the individual was going through in that psychosis, to not have support or resources, was much worse.”

So, the floral businesses decided to fundraise for Island Community Mental Health.

They reached out to community members and asked them to be part of a calendar project called “Blooms for Benefit.”

ALSO READ: Centre for youth seeking mental health and addictions support opens in Victoria

Victoria locals were embellished with colourful floral displays, and photographed by local photographer Tristen Williams. Below each photo, each person shared a small statement about their own experiences with mental health.

“Mental health affects everyone from models, to moms to business people,” Lorel said. “It’s on everyone’s minds and needs to be discussed and destigmatized.”

Because mental health affects everyone and in different ways, Lorel said that within the project they tried to choose individuals who represented a wide spectrum of people.

ALSO READ: Mental health issue suspected after spike belts end Island Highway car chase

Some of the models include Tom and Perry LaFortune, master totem carvers who have been working outside the Royal BC Museum, Victoria Coun. Jeremy Loveday, and band members from The New Pornographers and Astrocolor. Local authors, doctors, mental health advocates, LGBTQ2 activists, and more are also featured.

The calendar is for sale at Migration and Still Life, as well as online at bespokeblossoms.com

The calendar costs $20, with all proceeds going to Island Community Mental Health.

“This way the community is turning something negative into something positive for others,” Lorel said. “Hopefully it can prevent that from happening for others.”


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