Bowen paramedic moving off-island

Janis Treleaven came to Bowen, as many do, with a young child. 

In 2003, Treleaven’s daughter was 10 months old. “[Bowen’s] just the best place to raise a child, which I did,” she says.

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Now that her daughter Colleen is nearly grown and living on the mainland, Trelaven is moving to Vancouver at the end of November to be closer to her family. 

“[Colleen’s] life is in Vancouver and I never see her,” says Treleaven. “I need to be part of her life again and the only way I can do that properly is to be accessible.”

But, if there’s one thing Treleaven wants islanders to know, it’s that she’s not abandoning the island. 

In the decade and a half since moving here, Treleaven’s had 10 jobs, just so that she could stay on-island.  But, finally, a few years ago, Treleaven found her calling. For the past five years, Treleaven’s responded to emergency calls on Bowen Island, first as a driver, then as an emergency medical responder and then as a primary care paramedic. She’s now one of two community paramedics on-island (this is a different position from the paramedics who respond to emergency calls in the ambulance). 

“I’m not leaving the island and leaving it all behind,” says Treleaven. “I’m still going to be community paramedic two days a week here.”

That she’s not leaving everything behind is especially important to Treleaven in the wake of the community support she’s received since she injured her shoulder on the job in May 2018. For the past year and a half Treleaven’s been unable to work. After a re-tear over the winter and the withdrawal of Workers’ Compensation support, Treleaven had to rely on community fundraising to get her through the months without a paycheque. 

“The GoFundMe that the community did was life preserving for me. I could not have made it,” says Treleaven. “I don’t know what would have happened to me if it wasn’t for the community and offshore support with members of BC Ambulance and people I didn’t even know existed and I still don’t know who they are.”

“I just felt horrible about having to ask people to come and help me. But the people that did you know, I’m just absolutely indebted to them as friends and as neighbours,” says Treleaven, noting in particular the community in Artisan Square, where she lives. “I can’t say enough about the support of the square itself to for helping me all the way through that.”

Now with a nearly healed arm, Treleaven is planning her gradual return to work, first as a third person on shift with other paramedics in Vancouver and then hopefully a few months from now, back into her community paramedic position. 

“My commitment to the community is still solid,” says Treleaven. “Like I said, they might not even notice I’m gone.” 

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