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MCDONALD, Sara Hilma

MCDONALD, Sara Hilma

On the morning of Tuesday, February 1, 2022 Sara Hilma McDonald passed away peacefully at the time and place of her choosing. After a two year struggle with ALS, she spent her final moments with her four children, Nathan, Jordan, Rachel and Elisabeth Lige.

Sara grew up in Maple Ridge, and for the past 30 years, made her home in the Okanagan where she raised her family. It was in Kelowna where she decided to return to school, to earn a Fine Arts degree before completing her Masters degree with a thesis focusing on adults with intellectual disabilities and fine arts.

She founded the not for profit charity Cool Arts in 2003 as an “equitable fine arts experience” for adults with diverse abilities. Although she stepped down as president in 2013, Cool Arts continues to thrive.

While creating artistic outlets for others, she herself was a working artist who had numerous shows around British Columbia. Through her work Sara explored themes of spirituality, cycles, journeys, sanctuary, and the sacred. She utilised printmaking, drawing, painting, and collaging to create layered and textural mixed media pieces. Sara used many symbols in her paintings, prints and handmade cards, but one will always stand out for those who are familiar with her work—an emblem of communication, and message—the postage stamp.

Sara travelled frequently. She joined her kids on trips to Spain and Scotland as well as going to locations all over Canada for her son, Jordan’s Special Olympic competitions. Annually, the McDonald clan meets in the Comox Valley on Vancouver island. It is a tradition she always looked forward to and passed on to her children and grandchildren. This past year was particularly special as she made a point of feeling the ocean wash over her toes a final time.

She lived with ALS with dignity, grace and courage. Despite declining health, she fought, along with other patient-advocates, for greater attention to ALS care, and became the first ALS patient in Canada to be granted a medical exemption for the use of Psilocybin. She wrote eloquently on her blog (sarasalslife.wordpress.com) about her journey. Her advocacy will benefit those who encounter ALS in the future.

She will be remembered for her sense of humour and her love of gardening. She shared her inventive style of crafting with many. Some will remember her for unflinching honesty. Others for her ability to love them without judgement.

The family wishes to thank the medical professionals, caregivers, and friends who assisted her over the past two years. Sara is survived by her four children as well as her grandchildren, Sabine and Jakob Lige, and Kellan Vetter. She is also survived by her supportive siblings, Julia, Sylvia, Ian, and Mike, her mother, Helen, and a large and loving extended family, including her beloved cat, Edie.

Condolence Messages
  • Sep 26, 2022
    Condolences to the McDonald family.
    - Mr. Sawchuck
  • Feb 26, 2022
    She was my first friend and landlord in Canada. She was kind, full of energy and warm. I always am going to remember her with good memories, and with a smile on my face. My deepest condolences to her family and everybody who knows her. I am so grateful to get a chance to meet with you. Rest in Peace. I always remember you.
    Ece Fenerci
  • Feb 20, 2022
    Our sincere condolences and thoughts to you-Sara was a truely passionate and talented person. We are lucky enough to own some of her beautiful prints which we treasure.
    Rob and Lynn Archibald
  • Feb 13, 2022
    Sara was a beautiful person in every way. I value the times we spent together at UBCO and afterward. My sincerest condolences to Nathan, Jordon, Rachel and Elisabeth. She talked of you often. She was so proud of all of you. I will miss a good friend.
    Valerie Millar
  • Feb 12, 2022
    I am saddened to hear of Sara's passing. She will be missed.
    My sincere condolences to her family.
    Carin Covin
  • Feb 10, 2022
    Nathan, Jordan, Rachel and Elisabeth,
    We were very sorry to hear of your Mom’s illness and passing. Sara was a very talented, creative, kind and caring woman. We have many memories of her from our time as neighbours. Among them are seeing her share her creativity with the kids in the neighbourhood through art projects and impromptu art classes. The enjoyment she got from working in her gardens. Her beautiful smile. We send our warmest thoughts and deepest condolences to all of you for your loss.
    Charlene and Glenn Roper
  • Feb 09, 2022
    I was sad to learn of this talented artist's and committed citizen's illness and passing. I have one of Sara's postage stamp pieces from her Fine Arts grad exhibit that I treasure. RIP Sara. Colleen Wilson
  • Feb 08, 2022
    I was so sorry to hear of Sara's diagnosis. I fondly remember connecting with her at the inception of Cool Arts. Sara and company used our Fuller Avenue building for a few years, before moving to their own space. Sara was passionate, committed and just a great person to chat with. My heart goes out to her family. Charisse Daley
  • Feb 08, 2022
    Sara will always be one of my favorite people to sit and knit with- so gracious with her time and always up for fun. You will be missed Sara- Sharilyn Kuehnel
  • Feb 08, 2022
    Our heartfelt condolences to all who love Sara. What a blessing Sara was, pouring herself into people and art, sharing her passions and seeing the creative potential in everyone. Sara, through Cool Arts, gave our daughter and other artists wide-ranging experiences. A highlight was the opportunity to share their artwork via the We Are Artists exhibit at the Kelowna Art Gallery, a hugely meaningful celebration of artistic expression. We treasure Sara’s own artwork, especially her Palimpsest Series piece inspired by 1 Corinthians 13:13: “Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” Thank you, Sara, for your friendship and creative inspiration.
    Karen and Will Autio
  • Feb 08, 2022
    We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of this most remarkable human being. May her legacy forever be remembered fondly.—Robert and Susan Belton
  • Feb 08, 2022
    On Behalf of the Kelowna ALS Support Group - we send our condolences to Sara's family and friends. Sara was a bright light - who brought humor and courage to our group.
    Sara's tireless advocacy for ALS was remarkable. Her Voice - LARGE! Her fundraising - second to none! We cheered along Sara's Squad in knowing her cause was for us ALL. Sara's advocacy will allow ALS to become a treatable disease.
    Sara is now free to soar like an Eagle and shine light onto her loved ones. Sara's spirit will live on in so many aspects of life through the people she touched.
    Louise Gauthier
  • Feb 07, 2022
    Jordan our hearts and sympathy go out to you-the legacy your mom has left with Cool Arts goes on and the artist in you too! Love to you and your family during this difficult time. Greg Dunn and Shelley Purdon
  • Feb 06, 2022
    Sara was such a wonderful person. Many great memories of her dear friendship to us, William & Sandra Lumsden.
  • Feb 06, 2022
    I greatly admired Sara for her gift of gardening and her bringing Cool Arts o so many who carry on her legacy of art being for everyone, no matter what your ability may be. I enjoyed her wisdom of what to plant and tried to plant some things she showed me but never looked s beautiful as hers. I am sorry covid kept me from being more present for you, my sweet neighbour. I admire your courage.Thinking of your family, of whom you were so proud. Rest easy now, Joslyn
  • Feb 06, 2022
    I am ever grateful for the opportunity to know and work with Sara. She was a model mother, artist, advocate and community member. My sincerest thoughts are with her family. She leaves a wonderful legacy in the artistic, diverse-abled and ALS communities. She is and will be missed.
    Rena Warren
  • Feb 05, 2022
    Sara was an artist, writer and thinker to the end. She will be missed deeply.
    Mary Berg
  • Feb 04, 2022
    It was a pleasure to share a studio in Kelowna with Sara for many years. She was a remarkable artist and a lovely person. I was saddened to hear of her illness and death. My deep condolences to her family.
    Portia Priegert
  • Feb 04, 2022
    I am so happy to have known Sara and to have worked toward her beautiful creation of Cool Arts. Sara a true advocate for individuals with diversabilities. Our community will never forget your work and all you stood for. Rest in peace Sara.
    Thomas Myatt
  • Feb 04, 2022
    I am honored and humbled to have known Sara as a friend. It has been a long time but my memories of UBCO printmaking and Cool Arts are treasured. Such dignity and grace to the end. My heart goes out to the family...especially Jordan who Dale and I both worked with. Sara you are loved and now may you find peace...Patti and Dale Kilback
  • Feb 04, 2022
    Sara is a gift, in life and in afterlife. I am so honored to have shared time and deep conversation with you Sara. So in awe of your grace, humor, and introspection. So grateful for the example you set of service and art and passion. I am a better human to have known you, and to still know all the lessons you leave here with us. To your dear family and friends I send you all love as you grieve, and gratitude for all the support you wrapped Sara in.
    Rhonda Victoor
  • Feb 04, 2022
    I am so sorry to read this news and a little shocked. Sara and I rode the same journey with ALS and shared our progress often along the way. She was so brave and eager to try new things to help smooth the way for others. My deepest condolences to her family and friends I am sure she will be missed. Fly with the angels now Sara, you are free from this terrible disease!
    Love Rita Fayle
  • Feb 03, 2022
    What a beautiful reflection on your mom and Grandma's life. Sara was unique and wonderful, as a parent, artist and advocate. She will be dearly missed ny mant. Heartfelt condolences to your family. Rest in peace Sarah. Thank you.
    Sylvie Zebroff
  • Feb 03, 2022
    Sara was a lovely person who contributed greatly to quality of life in our community. May she rest in peace. My condolences to all who loved her.
    Avril Paice
  • Feb 03, 2022
    With heartfelt sadness I send condolences to the family.
    I came to know Sarah and her passion as an artist when I was Jordan’s public health nurse visiting the home each morning for over a year to administer his medications.
    As a supporter of persons with unique abilities I welcomed Sarah’s fund raising events for Cool arts acquiring a few pieces of her art for my personal enjoyment.
    I have been thinking a-lot about Sarah this past week and was honoured to have know such a strong and fearless women. Soar with the angels Sarah ~ Donna Christison
  • Feb 03, 2022
    Sending our deepest sympathy to all of you. Jackie and Brian Gotro Cortney and Kayley Grandmother
  • Feb 03, 2022
    We are so very sorry to hear of your loss and hope for all of you deep comfort and peace.
    Naomi and Robert
  • Feb 03, 2022
    Sara was such an amazing ALS fighter and advocate and her voice was heard even when it wasn't heard. She was able to raise awareness and a lot of money for ALS by sharing her story and her journey through news interviews, social media and of course her always inspirational blog posts. We were proud to have the opportunity to get to know her, to fight along side her, and to be motivated by her in our own efforts to raise awareness of this horrific disease. Sara was a beacon of courage in a relentless storm and she will always be remembered by us as someone who touched our lives and our hearts. You will be missed by many including your ALS family. Rest In Peace.
    Darryl and Chrissy Borsato
  • Feb 03, 2022
    She handled her illness with such stalwart grace. May she be at peace! Sending love to the family at such a difficult time.
    Bonnie, Mark and Robyn Sylvia
  • Feb 03, 2022
    Condolences from the Ford family in Calgary.
  • Feb 03, 2022
    To Nathan, Jordan, Rachel and Elizabeth…I counted your mom as one of my closest friends. It is with a mix of sadness and relief for Sara that I read this just now. She handled her final years with grace and dignity
    I will miss her infectious laugh, fierce loyalty and stone cold honesty. She was a champion !!!!!!
    My heart goes out to you guys today. I reflect with great memories of the times we spent together
    Peace be upon you guys
    Buzz Denroche
  • Feb 03, 2022
    Our prayers are with your family at this time. May you feel Gods arms wrapped around you and give you peace..... Bob & Irene Balehowsky
  • Feb 03, 2022
    She was a wonderful remarkable women and great colleague. She will be missed.
    Tim Stainton
  • Feb 03, 2022
    To Nathan, Rachel, Jordan and Elizabeth,
    Passing on our deepests condolences on the passing of your Mom. She was a great neighbour when we lived in Shannon Lake. She was a very kind soul. May your wonderful memories pull you all through the pain of losing her. Our thoughts are with you. Lynn, Courtney and Kaylee
  • Feb 03, 2022
    Dear Nathan (Joanna), Rachel, Jordan, and Elizabeth
    The Eric and Doreen Munro family (Caleb, Paige, Brittany and Candace) send you love. Our memories with you all are varied and special. Your mom is one of a kind. May you have a peace that passes understanding as you walk this path.
  • Feb 03, 2022
    My deepest and most sincere condolences. Thinking about the family during this difficult time.
    Matt Gunn
  • Feb 03, 2022
    I was so saddened to read the new's of Sara's struggle with ALS and her subsequent passing. Our paths crossed during her time at UBCO's Centre for Inclusion and Citizenship, and I was grateful for the time spent with her and the knowledge she so willingly shared. She was an amazing advocate for individuals with diversabilities, and her founding of Cool Arts made a positive difference in the lives of many. Deepest condolences to her family and friends as you mourn the loss of this amazing soul. Rest in peace Sara.
    Karen Waldal