About Ngaio Davis (she / her)
Nothing about Ngaio’s life, KORU’s Founder, Owner and Managing Director, has ever been “run-of-the-mill”. Born in Canada, Ngaio, was raised as a farm-girl in rural B.C. She became a redseal carpenter in her early 20s 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 deathcare practitioner (licensed funeral director and embalmer) with two decades of experience. Prior to opening the doors of KORU in 2014 (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 deathcare 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.
As the founder of KORU, Ngaio is relishing the freedom to help spearhead meaningful and courageous conversations in the deathcare realm. Her sincere and genuine guidance, with a particular emphasis on eco-friendly endings and helping people to reclaim deathcare for their families, is also a reflection of that freedom.
About Emily Bootle (she / her)
Emily was born and raised in Kamloops BC, and feels fortunate to have been raised by loving parents and sisters who taught her that we can learn so much through our empathy. In her twenties Emily had the opportunity to live throughout BC, England, and for two years in Germany. This journey through university, work, and life eventually brought her back to BC with a vision of becoming a funeral director.
Over the last five years Emily has gradually honed her interests towards holistic family care which includes completing the Douglas College end-of-life doula certification and becoming very involved with the Green Burial Society of Canada. She currently sits in the position of Vice President of the board and is constantly looking for ways to raise awareness for sustainable death care options.
In late 2020 Ngaio and Emily began communicating and decided to see if their work would be compatible at KORU. After working in various roles and positions within the corporate funeral home model Emily is excited to say that finding this partnership has felt very much like finding home.
In community with KORU she is looking forward to seeing what will be created and cultivated.
KORU’s outstanding team of affiliate partners
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 counsellor 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 + Emily in KORU’s vision “to deliver all deathcare 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.”
With thanks to Jessica Jacobson for her support with photographing our team.
About 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. Ngaio Davis of KORU Cremation | Burial | Ceremony 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.
About New Narrative Memorials
New Narrative Memorials was founded in 2017 with the mission to provide families with a trusted and compassionate event planner offering relief and creativity.
Their team collaborates with KORU to create Virtual Memorial Services, Livestreaming, and combination events with in-person and remote attendees. After working together with several families we believe that given everything our community has learned since 2020, it is integral to have creative modern services available.
We are proud to work with Christina and her team, to learn more about their work visit New Narrative Memorials
About Marci Chimich, Certified Executor Advisor (CEA)
‘The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.”
– Albert Schweitzer
One of Marci’s deepest passions in life is to serve and to help. Throughout her many life experiences in education, work and travel, she has shared and walked alongside the humble, the meek, the poor and the lonely.
For many years after college, Marci had a longing to work in funeral service. She achieved her goal in 2008 when she began working as a funeral attendant. A short 6 months later, she enrolled in mortuary school and began her program to become dual licensed in Funeral Directing and Embalming. She furthered her studies and became a Certified Funeral Service Professional (CFSP).
Marci’s commitment to lifelong learning and serving others recently led her to expand her skill set by successfully completing the Certified Executor Advisor (CEA) program. She provides a warm and personalized approach when giving advice and assistance to Executors who have the responsibility of settling the estate of a loved one. As well, she gives guidance in completing necessary government documentations, notifications and applications.
Emily and Ngaio are thrilled to be able to recommend Marci’s services to KORU’s clients.
About Christa Ovenell, Education and Planning Specialist
Christa Ovenell is a community-based death educator, a licensed funeral director and embalmer, and an end-of-life doula. She holds a Master’s degree in Adult and Higher Education from UBC and is the founder of Death’s Apprentice Education & Planning Inc., a company that specializes in holistic advanced care planning for individuals and forward-thinking companies.
Christa takes a practical, empowering and heart-centered approach to her end-of-life and deathcare practice.
The KORU team is delighted that Christa’s energy will be directed at pre-planning for KORU.