Nfld. & Labrador

Chocolate bars and book readings as Islaview Day moves online

Online celebrations are keeping Islaview Day — a celebration of the life of Isla Short — going in the COVID-19 era.

Isla Short celebrated in online events organized by her parents' foundation

As part of Islaview Day celebrations, the foundation is organizing a decorating contest, and asking families to send photos to its Facebook page. Because of COVID-19, the celebrations for Islaview Day are different this year. (Islaview Foundation/Facebook)

A bake sale, a book reading and an online concert will mark Islaview Day in Deer Lake, N.L., this year, as the celebration of Isla Short's life moves online.

The Islaview Foundation has organized a series of online events Friday to keep Islaview Day going through the COVID-19 era.

Dan Bursey, Isla Short's uncle, will read from his new children's book, We're All Neighbours, Got It? Good! — and Isla's father, Michael Short, will sell custom-made chocolate bars bearing Isla's image from his home in the afternoon.

"It actually means everything, this is one of the most rewarding things that I've ever been a part of," Bursey told CBC Radio's Newfoundland Morning. 

Isla Short captured the hearts of Deer Lake residents as she fought neuroblastoma, and in 2017 the town changed its name to Islaview — pronunced "I love you" — for a day to support her as she underwent treatment.

She died in November 2017 at 3½ years old, and her parents helped start the Islaview Foundation the next year. The charity raises money for the families of children undergoing treatment for life-threatening conditions.

"It's about more than just the money, it's about the fact that there's someone there who knows where you've been and who has walked the mile that you're walking, and are there to support you emotionally," said Bursey.

Watch Sarah and Michael Short explain the schedule for this year's Islaview Day celebration in the video below.

This year, Michael Short worked with Tareq Hadhad, the founder of Nova Scotia's Peace by Chocolate, to create a custom chocolate bar for Isla.

The label shows a photo of Isla in a superhero outfit, and Short said he picked a chocolate bar that looked like it had sprinkles on it — which Isla would have loved.

"I look at my daughter, she's a superhero in my eyes. A lot of people see her as a superhero, just because of what she went through in life," Short told CBC Radio's Newfoundland Morning.

Isla Short's father, Michael, worked with the Peace By Chocolate company to create a custom chocolate bar for Islaview Day. (Islaview Foundation/Facebook)

"I've thought about this a few times; she'd be so proud to see herself on a chocolate bar. Isla was very vocal, she was such a great child and she was so loving, and whenever she would see things like that, she would just get a real rise out of that stuff."

The Short family will sell the chocolate bars by creating a makeshift drive-thru at their home in Deer Lake.

Mike and Sarah Short pose for a photo with Isla in 2017. (Islaview Foundation website)

At 6:30 p.m. on Friday, the Islaview Foundation will post a video on its Facebook page that will feature the book reading and include musical guests.

On Thursday, Premier Dwight Ball — who is from Deer Lake — spoke about Isla Short in his daily COVID-19 briefing to the media.

"Even though Isla was just a little girl, she was wise," he said.  

"We all learned a lot of valuable lessons from her, she taught me how to deal with adversity and always reminded me to look on the bright side of life. The colours that she had in her world really showed how she felt, always about positive thinking."

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