ABOUT Ngaio Davis
Nothing about the life of Ngaio, KORU’s founder, owner and Managing Director at the Vancouver location, has ever been “run-of-the-mill”. Born in Canada, Ngaio, was raised as a farm-girl in rural B.C. became a journeyperson carpenter in her early 20’s and, then, after many years of building and crafting in construction, Ngaio devoted herself to being of service helping people care for their dead.
Ngaio is a licensed funeral director and embalmer with more than 17 years experience. Prior to opening the doors of KORU in 2013 (formerly known as Classic Cremation & Funeral Services), Ngaio was a front-line worker and manager in both corporately and privately owned funeral homes on Vancouver Island and in Metro Vancouver.
Working in funeral service requires one to be wholly present in each and every situation, to be able to listen to and through the words of the bereaved and respond appropriately, to be able to adapt to an ever-changing landscape, and to quietly support the people you work with. These attributes are what drew Ngaio into funeral service and her dedication to stay true to them is what keeps her in this field. There is very little Ngaio hasn’t seen or dealt with around diverse funeral and mourning rituals, family dynamics or unusual circumstances.
When you call a funeral home, you’re usually at an incredibly vulnerable and intimate time in your life. Ngaio believes that the responsibility of funeral professionals is simply to serve people’s needs, whatever they are. Too often families are forced to compromise and settle for the services and products offered by funeral homes, even when what’s offered isn’t exactly what they want. Ngaio sets herself apart from other funeral directors and conventional funeral homes by simply asking, “How can I help you?” rather than providing a limited number of options and then asking you to choose one.
Ngaio is fully committed to offering you sincere and genuine assistance. She is also keen to encourage you to talk openly about death and dying, topics with which most North Americans have a poor relationship. Ngaio has experienced all too often the utter desperation people are faced with because they are not at all prepared to face a death experience. Now that she is leading her own company, Ngaio is relishing the freedom to help spearhead meaningful and courageous conversations in this realm.
ABOUT Iris Paradela-Hunter
Iris grew up in an urban poor neighbourhood in the Philippines where people relied on each other for material and personal support. Neighbours borrowed a cup of rice from each other and women looked after each other’s children. A stronger sense of community emerged when someone died. Relatives and friends sprang into action. Someone would inform the mananabtan: a person, usually an older woman, hired to lead the rosary or novena for the wake. Another would keep the grieving spouse and children company. Several others would take turns in preparing food for the nights preceding the burial. Everybody – even the very poor – pitched in money to help cover the expense of burying the dead. Illness, dying and death are events woven into the daily life of the culture.
Some of those who know Iris think that her current work in the end-of-life community came out of the blue. But those who are close to her would not find this surprising at all. Her career trajectory shows that Iris sought out work that allowed her to engage with people in deep and meaningful ways.
After completing her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at St. Theresa’s College in Cebu, Philippines, Iris worked as a school counselor for seven years. Then an American philanthropist and his family offered her an opportunity of a lifetime, allowing Iris to co-found and co-direct Bag-ong Dahon (New Leaf) Foundation, Inc., (BDFI) with fellow educator, Maebe Neis. BDFI was a non-profit organization mandated to provide free, alternative, informal education to children and youth in nearby rural areas of the Philippines.
In 2005, in search of adventure, Iris left her close-knit community and emigrated to Canada. She completed a second Bachelor’s degree in General Studies focusing on anthropology, education and sociology at Simon Fraser University. Since coming to Vancouver, she has held various positions as a research assistant, coordinator of volunteers at Frontier College, a stage actor with Theatre for Living (formerly known as Headlines Theatre), as well as in different capacities as a member of Vancouver Cohousing where she lives with her partner and young daughter.
What led Iris to the end-of-life path? A few years ago, she was processing her delayed grief for her parents. This became the impetus for her personal and academic journey in the world of death and dying. She has an end-of-life doula certificate from Douglas College and is completing her end-of-life studies at Simon Fraser University. She has hosted her intrepid colleagues in Vancouver Community Deathcare and has also organized Living with Dying: A Conversation Series about End of Life.
Iris brings to KORU her empathy, compassion, warmth and creativity. Some friends in her cohousing community call her a “stage manager” for her stellar behind-the-scenes skills in planning, organizing and problem-solving. She has set the stage for many meetings, events and fun gatherings. Iris feels fortunate to be working with Ngaio and hopes that Ngaio’s wisdom and gentle presence will rub off on her. She is thrilled to be supporting Ngaio in KORU’s vision “to deliver all funeral-related services in a fresh and innovative way by expanding and enhancing the customer’s horizons through offering possibilities which would create a meaningful and personal experience.”
WELCOME Lisa Hartley!
KORU is delighted to collaborate with Lisa Hartley, Life-Cycle Celebrant.
Life challenges us all; Lisa’s life has included much loss within her immediate and extended family. While moving through this grief, Lisa stumbled upon a vocation that she is passionate about. She also met Ngaio Davis of KORU Cremation | Burial | Ceremony who inspires her to remain true to her values, particularly around end-of-life issues.
In her work as a Life-Cycle Celebrant, Lisa listens deeply to people’s stories and brings them alive in a meaningful ceremony. With loving words, and creative celebrations she guides people through the big moments of their lives. These thresholds may be weddings, the birth of a child, or the death of a loved one. Lisa encourages and guides clients to remember and share their own stories. Through discussions, writing, ceremony design, and officiating the ceremony Lisa helps her clients bring their stories to their friends, families and communities.
It is in sharing our stories that we are made whole and we come to more deeply understand our lives.
Throughout her life Lisa has been a storyteller, first with dance, then photography and now as a Life-Cycle Celebrant with her own company Simply Ceremony.
Lisa is delighted to join her talents and abilities with the passionate and hard working team at Koru. She is available as both a Full-Service Life-Cycle Celebrant and a consultant to support clients to create their own ceremonies. She welcomes your enquiries.
To know more about Lisa and her work, you can visit her website at Simply Ceremony.