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Community Event Coordinator

Iris Paradela-Hunter

Design
80%
Branding
90%
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88%

I

ris 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.

Biography

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.

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