Bobby-Jo Kowalski (right), with her husband Wes, and eight-year-old daughter Samantha, started a BC Angel Dresses group with her mother-in-law Sandra Kowalski and invites anyone who is interested in helping to a angel dress sewing event on Saturday, Oct. 19 at the Big Lake Community Hall. Photo submitted

Grief from infant losses inspires BC Angel Dresses sewing project

There will be a sewing event Saturday, Oct. 19 at the Big Lake Community Hall

The co-founder of BC Angel Dresses said she honours her own four lost babies by providing a platform for other grieving families.

Bobby-Jo Kowalski of Big Lake said since she started the B.C. group with her mother-in-law Sandra Kowalski of Pitt Meadows in 2014 they’ve had so many women over the years open up to them.

“In the past you weren’t supposed to talk about miscarrying, but now all of a sudden women have this freedom to talk about it,” she said. “Many of them come forward and participate in the group in whatever ways they can to honour their lost ones. People whose daughters and nieces have lost babies also can connect with the group.”

Kowalski welcomes anybody that wants to help out to attend a sewing bee on Saturday, Oct. 19 at the Big Lake Community Hall anytime from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“If they even want to come for an hour, that’s fine. If they want to bring a sewing machine that’s great. If they don’t have sewing experience there are lots of other things to do such as cutting up patterns, and packaging. There are lots of steps.”

Kowalski was living in Saskatchewan when Becky Panter started Saskatchewan Angel Dresses in 2014.

“That’s started the Canadian movement of Angel Dresses,” she said. “There’d been similar groups in the U.S. for a long time. I started sewing for the group, but then found after my last miscarriage the emotional part of sewing was too much for me.”

At around that time her mother-in-law started making dresses in B.C. and Kowalski did the behind the scenes Facebook work and spreading the word.

Since 2017 BC Angel Dresses has not been able to accept any new dress donations because they have not been able to keep up with the influx of donated dresses they received in 2014.

Read more: Victoria woman uses loss to raise awareness of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

“We can always use trimming and notions though,” she said.

When her husband got a job at Gibraltar Mines they moved with their eight-year-old daughter Samantha to the Cariboo and found a home in Big Lake.

“I love the Cariboo and am excited to do some on-the-ground work here. We did a sewing event in Williams Lake a few months ago. Now I want to do something in the community where I live.”

She described Samantha as their rainbow baby, which she explained is the baby born after a woman has had a miscarriage.

“We had two losses before her and two losses after. She is our gift. She participates and will come out and sew a dress as well.”

In the future, she hopes to work with the community of Williams Lake to recognize Oct. 15 – Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day — and do something special.

“It is also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month so we are trying to have more sewing events this month across the province. This will be our second one as we are at a bit of a slow start, but every little bit helps.”

Read more: BC Angel Dresses calls on Williams Lake seamstresses this Saturday

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