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Celebrating International Women’s Day and #WomenWhoInspire!

International Women's Day

On Sunday, March 8 we celebrate International Women’s Day, and what better way to mark this event than by highlighting some of the many inspiring women in our community.


This week we have been featuring just a few of the #WomenWhoInspire at Avalon and broadcasting live from Women, Trauma and Recovery, an educational event hosted by Registered Clinical Counsellor and Avalon Board Director Carrie DeJong.

Read our recap of the week below.

Maria's Story

IWD - Maria

On Monday, Maria graciously shared her story of coming to Avalon through a connection to our co-founder, Virginia Giles. “I have very fond memories of Virginia,” said Maria. She shared her Avalon journey over the last 20 years, calling it a “rocky road” as she has been in and out of the program, but has always found her way back to Avalon – who has welcomed her with open arms.

“The women and the staff have been so kind and so gentle and supportive. When I think of Avalon, all I think about is love and connection, those are the words that come to mind.”

Maria has now been sober for nearly 2.5 months, and says she “hasn’t been able to say that for years.”

Watch Maria’s interview:

Olga's Story

The following day we chatted with Olga, who spoke about her road to recovery with Avalon. After a bumpy start and a life-changing event, Olga made the decision to change her life once and for all in April of 2008. Avalon was there to support not only with meetings and a safe space to be, but also helped her to create a resume and build an independent life. “I don’t know what I would do without Avalon, I grew up at Avalon,” said Olga.

“[At Avalon] I learned to love and accept women for who they are, and accept myself for who I am. I don’t think I would be here without Avalon. I don’t think I would be alive.”

Watch Olga’s interview:

IWD - Olga

Women, Trauma & Addiction Recovery

Women, trauma & recovery_social media

On March 4, we hosted an educational seminar for counsellors and psychology professionals delivered by Registered Clinical Counsellor and Avalon Board Director Carrie DeJong.

This engaging and informative session focused on the intersection of trauma and addiction, particularly in women, and how past experiences of trauma relates to a woman’s addiction recovery.

You can watch the video here:

Helen Burnham & Virginia Giles

Yesterday, we highlighted two amazing #WomenWhoInspire and the ones who started it all: Helen Burnham and Virginia Giles. After meeting along their recovery journey and sharing the unique experiences and challenges they faced as women, Helen and Virginia realized that women needed a space to connect and support each other in their recovery.

When they realized that a place for women didn’t exist, they took action. On September 30, 1990 they opened the doors to Avalon Recovery Society, starting a legacy that would change the lives of women and families throughout the Lower Mainland and beyond.

We were saddened to announce the passing of Virginia Giles on February 20, 2020. Read about her life, legacy and contribution to Avalon.


There will be a reception to honour Virginia’s life at Avalon Women’s Centre Vancouver, 5957 West Boulevard, on March 20 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. All are welcome. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Avalon Recovery Society.

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