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Mary Dumka to be honoured

When it comes time to hang ‘em up, call it a day or walk off into the sunset, a person hopes to leave some kind of legacy behind.
Mary Dumka
Mary Dumka

When it comes time to hang ‘em up, call it a day or walk off into the sunset, a person hopes to leave some kind of legacy behind.

In Mary Dumka’s case, her legacy in the community during more than 20 years at Canmore Hospital is a lasting one which will be celebrated with a Roast and Toast, Jan. 22, at Communitea Café.

The Roast and Toast is open to the public. There will be some music and singing and attendees are asked to share a moment or experience they had with Dumka. There will be appetizers and a cash bar, and donations are welcome.

Among friends and co-workers, Dumka will certainly be missed.

For nurse Suzanne Lawrence, meeting Dumka happened more or less by chance. “I had seen her in the hallways and I was interested in meditation. Mary held meditation groups and one day a friend said, ‘Let’s sit in’. I’ve been going ever since, for 12 years.

“I sat in and thought it was really useful for anybody having a struggle in life. She even talked me into leading some groups. When I said I didn’t know how, she just said ‘Trust the process’ and I did. I’m still hosting some of the groups.

“The thing about Mary is that she’s a Buddhist and she is virtually living what she is teaching. She is compassionate and very positive and she reminds you of one of those people who can be in the middle of huge storm but be very centred and calm. She just has a wonderful way about her.”

Linda Marie Juniper calls Dumka “one of the strongest influences I’ve ever met in my life – in a caring, loving way. Mary has the courage to do different things and has a lot of compassion. Courage and community, those are the two big words.

“In the hospital, she’s always gone above and beyong her duties as a psychotherapist. She had some patients doing acupuncture and even had a client who did Reiki work on other clients as well.”

Dumka’s willingness, as a Western-trained healthcare provider, to embrace philosphies of Eastern care is what made her stand out for many.

For psychologist Janet McLeod, Dumka’s incorporation of Hakomi therapy was one of many explorations of different therapies.

“It’s a mindful therapy, a slowing down where you connect with a client’s body. We were both trained in traditional medical models; biochemistry, drug interactions and traditional therapeutic approaches like cognitive behaviour therapy.

“But by following different life paths, we both came to the conclusion those skills were not enough. For us, healing had to expand to include a client’s body, their total environment, their spirit and a re-connection to their unique contribution within their community.

“Mary has taken a stand to assist in healing her clients, but also to assist in healing our community. Her graciousness and kindness, her curiousity and joy, her compassion for others and our planet have acted as guideposts for all of us to remember our greatness and to act from that place.”

For Patti Mayer, what made Dumka stand out was her huge toolbox of abilities – where her wisdom cultivated techniques, styles, and tools due to her phenomenal background.

“For this party, we want to celebrate her contribution to the community. She was committed to healing clients, but took her efforts into the community as well.

“Mary took an acupuncture course in 2003 because she was always thinking, ‘What else can I do?’, ‘How can I help people?’

“Her Western psychotherapy led to an Eastern style and the courage to find a new way to help people like that. She really embraced Eastern methods; she went to retreats, visited China, she even did acupuncture on Jim Kievit’s dog one time.

“The first time we met was at the folk festival. She was on the green committee before there was a committee. She had a composter at home and it was another way of having an influence and living what she believed.”

Finally, for Canmore Hospital administrator Barb Shellian, “Dr. Dumka is a skilled professional, but more importantly, she is a kind and sensitive individual who is committed to helping others.

“Her gentle approach to healing and her broad perspective of what therapies are appropriate for specific situations makes her a role model for others. She values the importance of teamwork in healthcare and meets her patients “where they are” and helps them go to “where they need to be.

“Mary invests a part of herself in her work that is impressive – she is open minded and attentive to other perspectives and can maintain her sense of humour in very difficult situations. Caring seems like a very simple word and in many ways inadequate, but I do believe that it describes Dr. Dumka very accurately and she has left a very impressive footprint at the Canmore Hospital and will be fondly remembered by patients and staff.

“I count it an honour to have been able to work with her and I am a better person for knowing her,” Shellian said.

Another area where Dumka had an influence on her community, says Donna Kubista, is in regard to affordable housing.

“In 1996, she met with then-councillor Glen Craig and started working towards her vision. Mary was part of an affordable housing group in earlier years in Calgary and she brought her knowledge and her energy to a community that was in great need.

“Over the years, Mary’s efforts resulted in the creation of the Mountain Haven Cooperative Housing that is located in Three Sisters Mountain Village. Without Mary’s vision and commitment to the community this perpetually affordable housing dream never would have been realized.

“We owe many thanks to Mary Dumka and her husband André Gareau to their commitment to perpetually affordable housing”.

Rocky Mountain Outlook

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