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Terri Viola-Wilson 
C.A.N.D.Y Cafe  Program Director

After growing up in Hamilton, Terri went to Queen’s University for her Hons. B.A. and then her B.Ed. After a fulfilling 30-year career as an elementary school teacher, Terri is retired and lives with her husband, Trevor, and their Havanese dog, Charli, in Burlington. Together, they have a charismatic son who lives in Toronto. Whether cooking, reading, painting, or enjoying Burlington’s beautiful downtown and waterfront, Terri is grateful for all that life has given her.

Starting out on HHA’s team, “Boomers Plus” in 2017, Terri soon became Chapter Champion of the Hamilton-Halton Chapter. She sat on the Moonlit Memory Walk Organizing Team for 4 years and continues to participate every year in this important event. She is now the Program Manager for the C.A.N.D.Y. Café Pilot Project. Terri is dedicated to seeing the program reach as many young people as possible to help them grow in their awareness and understanding of dying, death, and grief. 

In Conversation:

What is your background? Born in Hamilton, went to Queen’s University for both degrees. Elementary school teacher for 30 years.

 

What are the values that drive you?  I believe in always striving to give my best efforts, showing kindness to strangers, and telling and showing my love and compassion to those I cherish in my life.

Who is someone you admire, and why?  Ellen Degeneres is someone I admire for so many reasons. She was courageous when she opened up about her sexual orientation and she not only survived the repercussions, she lifted herself up and now thrives. She was courageous when she opened up about her abuse growing up, especially when she spoke with David Letterman on his Netflix special, “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction”. Ellen selects guests for her show who are making a difference in their communities, exposing everyone to what is possible if we care enough to try. And of course, she is compassionate and extremely funny. While there are a few things I don’t like that she does (sexualizing her male guests), I admire far more. There aren’t too many famous people I would care to meet. I would like to meet her so that I could thank her for recognizing the power of her position and being responsible by using it to help make the world a better place.

Your top three favorite books, music artists or movies.  My favourite movie is The Wizard of Oz. I absolutely love the Canadian Detective Gamache mystery series by Louise Penny. I don’t have a favourite musical artist because I love music and so many artists of different genres.

Do you have any skills or talents that most people don’t know about?  I play the piano and guitar.

Finish this sentence. On Sunday mornings, you can usually find me… On Sunday mornings, you can usually find me on the golf course or at home.

How do you want people to remember you?  This really depends on who we’re talking about. I hope that my former students remember me for my sense of humour and high standards. I hope my family and friends remember me for my sense of humour and desire to do my best by them, whatever that may need to be. As for anyone else, I hope they remember me for my smile.

 

What are some causes you care about? I care about mental health issues, especially those caused by traumatic experiences among young people. I also care about helping people understand that they have options when they have the chance to prepare for death and that they can create their “best death”. There are quite a few other causes that I care about but I can’t say that I’m involved in trying to move them forward.

Where do you yourself in the next 10 years? Hopefully, above ground… I will be in my late 60’s. It would be great if I’m still enjoying mobility and the use of all of my senses. Life has a way of surprising us with challenges at any time but especially as we age. If I have those two conditions, I will be happy to golf, play tennis, meet up with my friends, and enjoy family time.

 

What would be your personal motto? Be grateful.