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.