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Victoria Yoga Conference

Rosie Johnnie-Mills. Photo: Victoria Yoga Conference


This past weekend was filled with celebrations and joy as the University of Victoria held the Victoria Yoga Conference. The conference ran from February 9-11 and featured over 40 presenters.

The Opening Night event, Illumination, started the weekend off on a high as the conference presented two major awards. It was held at the Alex Goolden Hall.

The VYC Awards & Scholarship Committee unanimously selected Shirley Daventry French as the recipient of the Distinguished Teacher of 2018. Shirley received multiple nominations from her own community, who her championed wit, wisdom and dedicated support towards her students. Though the members of the committee were not direct students of Shirley’s, the team agreed that her contributions to the greater yoga community in Victoria amounted to a legacy.

The committee acknowledged her devotion to the teachings of B.K.S Iyengar and her devotion to transmitting this knowledge to her students for over forty years. The committee included local teachers from a variety of styles and lineages: Tracy Chetna Boyd, Guy Friswell, Andrea Ting-Letts, and Tracey Noseworthy, the 2017 Distinguished Teacher Award recipient.

There were two recipients of the Breathe Fore Life Scholarship, a 1,000$ award presented by Kelty Patrick Dennehy Foundation. The first, Heidi MacPherson, is a 53-year-old MacPherson who teaches at Coastal Yoga Studio in Tofino. In addition to her yoga work, she is a landscape architect, musician, piano teacher, composer, and glass artist. She found herself drawn to yoga after being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. She credits yoga to aligning her life, and wants to share this with others in the community of Tofino.

Rosie Johnnie-Mills, lives in Lillooet. The award is dedicated to an individual who wishes to further their training and education to create change through teaching. Johnnie-Mills teaches yoga to the elders of her community, and works with those suffering from PTSD from the trauma of residential schools, specializing in Hatha and Restorative classes. With her scholarship, Johnnie-Mills plans on training in prenatal yoga teaching at Semperviva Yoga in Vancouver.

Another breathtaking moment was provided by Brandon Sherbrooke and Katie Thacker. It began with Carly Greene Hill joining them on stage for a “talk show style” question and answer, incorporating a vulnerable discussion. Later, to close out the night, Sherbrooke and Thacker performed an acro-yoga dance performance. The shocker was at the end, Sherbrooke got down on one knee and proposed to Thacker, sending the audience into a frenzy of tears and celebration.

Video Here.

Shirley Daventry French. Photo: Victoria Yoga Conference

The whole night was electrifying as Candace Aldridge Sanchez shook the stage with a belly dance performance. Patricia Galackzy, Andrea Ting-Letts,  Mara Branscombe, Tiffany Śwxeloselwet Joseph all presented and shared their beautiful words with the audience.

The duration of the weekend kept this energy going as over forty presenters shared their knowledge and practice. Participants of the conference went from class to class, trying new things, connecting with each other, and convening in the Wellness Market to check out the vendors.