Prairie Gold 2

In the late winter (2017-2018), Prairie Gold 2, textile art by Martha Cole, original photograph by Cherie Westmoreland, was on show at Assiniboia Gallery, 2266 Smith Street, Regina. Prairie Gold 2 was one of the first three digitally based works that were sent to Japan as part of an invitational exhibition of textile/quilted works from Canada, this was part of a very large international quilt show.

Martha Cole is a great supporter of Astonished! and has donated a significant percentage of the sale of this work to Astonished!  Thank you to Martha for her generosity, to Assiniboia Gallery for supporting this unique donor process, and to the anonymous buyer who made the process a success and now lives with this beautiful creation.

Two Summer Student Positions

We are currently looking for two energetic individuals to join our Program Coordinator to plan, implement, and evaluate a summer literacy program. These are full-time employment opportunity to be a part of our Astonished! Summer Staff.

Please send a cover letter and resume to with the subject ‘Summer Employment’.

For details and application click here….

Get your application in by 12:00pm on May 8th, 2017!

100+ Women Who Care Regina

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead

100+ Women Who Care Regina  are living into this quote and making a difference in our city.

Thank you to 100+ Women Who Care Regina for choosing Astonished! as their charity to support at their March 2017 meeting. We are honoured to be the recipients of their support. On April 12, 2017, Sharlene Arklie, Founder and Chair of 100+ Women Who Care Regina, presented a cheque for $16,100 to Bonnie Cummings-Vickaryous, Executive Director of The Big Sky Centre for Learning and Being Astonished! Inc. Sharlene Arklie said “Thank you for all of your hard work to empower the young adults of your organization to achieve. Your work is truly life-changing and inspirational!”

We are honoured that our work was chosen by these incredible women!

100+ Women Who Care Regina is a community organization located in Regina Saskatchewan. It brings together fabulous women from Regina and the surrounding area who care about their community.  At their meetings, after hearing three charities tell them how they are working to improve our community, they jointly select a charity to support.

Thank you 100+ Women Who Care Regina, you are changing the world.

PHOTO: Bonnie Cummings-Vickaryous and Sharlene Arklie

Summer Literacy 2017 Expression of Interest

A! Core Members interested in the A! Summer Literacy 2017 must complete the Literacy Expression of Interest and return it to Bonnie Cummings-Vickaryous by March 31, 2017.

The A! Summer Literacy program is designed to explore and respond to the literacy strengths, dreams, and needs of Astonished! Core Members. Program content is shaped by the strengths, dreams, and needs of each participant.  To begin, Astonished! staff work with each participant and those close to them to identify their ‘Literacy Strengths, Dreams, and Needs’. Example dreams might include developing literacy skills (reading, numeracy, technology, etc.), increasing literacy skills, or simply having more time to read and/or use various forms of technology.  Based on the strengths, dreams, and needs expressed, program participants will be offered individualized opportunities and/or group opportunities. The program runs Wednesday and Thursday afternoons in July and August, plus optional Tuesday evenings. Please see the Expression of Interest for exact dates.

South Saskatchewan Community Foundation


Paying it forward,” a phrase thought to have originated in 1916, the same year G. Murray Forbes was born,  is a great phrase to describe the result of G. Murray, Edna and Athol Forbes’ vision in establishing a charitable fund at the South Saskatchewan Community Foundation.

Murray and Edna Forbes were long time residents of Regina, and were active and generous in their various community activities. Now, through the South Saskatchewan Community Foundation, the G. Murray and Edna Forbes Foundation is carrying on that generous work.

For over 45 years the South Saskatchewan Community Foundation has helped good people do great things! Astonished Inc. gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the South Saskatchewan Community Foundation, which is a public foundation serving the people of South Saskatchewan. The foundation builds permanently endowed charitable funds for the changing need and opportunities of the community and provides grants to eligible charitable organizations in culture, health, education, environment, recreation and social service sectors.

We are pleased to announce that the G. Murray and Edna Forbes Foundation Fund at the South Saskatchewan Community Foundation has generously donated $10,000 to Astonished!  As our motto says, we truly are Better Together!


Introducing Kevin Ma

Location, location, location is the mantra for real estate, it might also be one of the mantras for Astonished! Being situated at the University of Regina gives us many opportunities to interact with students, faculty, staff, and volunteers. We are seeing more capacity among University of Regina student volunteers and faculty in working and interacting in meaningful ways, both personally and professionally, with Core Members.

We are pleased that Kevin Ma chose Astonished! for his four month (May-August 2016) Fieldwork Placement. Kevin is completing his last semester in a Bachelor of Kinesiology, majoring in Human Kinetics at the University of Regina.

Katherine Taylor (A! Program Coordinator) is Kevin’s supervisor and a graduate of Kinesiology with a Human Kinetics major.

At the age of 15 Kevin and his older brother moved to Regina to study at Luther College. Coming from Hong Kong they chose Regina and Luther College because they wanted a city and school where the primary language was English and they would have lots of opportunity to speak English. A year later, Kevin’s brother graduated from grade 12 and went on to further studies in England. Kevin chose to stay in Regina and has been here for almost ten years.

Kevin first learned about Astonished! by attending Wings On Our Wheels~ Astonished in Flight with the Kinesiology Student Society.

Kevin is interested in learning more about and with Astonished! and exploring ways people with physical disAbilities can expand their physical and social activity. Three of his learning objectives are:

  • Understanding the value and goals the organization holds,
  • Developing his inclusion skills,
  • Explaining, and understand, how specified program are launched and activated.

When asked about his strengths Kevin said ‘I am open-minded, I learned this from my parents, and growing up in the multi-cultural context of Hong Kong. My parents encouraged us to explore new things. I like finding new places, seeing new things. Sometimes, even though I have lived in Regina for ten years I still find some places that are new to me and I still find it fascinating. I am motivated to learn new things, listen to other people, and make new friends, this all helps to broaden my perspective.

We look forward to learning and working with Kevin.

Seeking Two Summer Students

Do you love people, technology, literacy, and learning? This could be the summer job for you. This is the fourth year for the Astonished Summer Literacy program and we are proud of the knowledge and skills we have developed together. The summer literacy program is designed to meet the specific  strengths, dreams, and needs of the Core Members who participate in the program.

Astonished! is currently looking for two summer students to work with the Astonished! Program Coordinator to plan, implement, and evaluate our summer literacy program. This literacy program is open to all Astonished! Core Members and participation is limited to approximately 8 Core Members.  The summer position would start the week of May 30th and would conclude the last week of August. Click here for job description and application. All applications due by noon May 13, 2016.

Variety – The Spice of Life

The March A! newsletter highlights some of the variety of life at Astonished! We hope you will take a few minutes to enjoy catching up with us. The big question is ‘How did Rhea Boysen and Katherine Taylor look so fabulous at Wings on Our Wheels ~ Astonished! in Flight when they spent the day racing around doing event preparations’? Thanks to everyone who made it such a great night.

Introducing Katherine Taylor


I have been the Program Coordinator at Astonished for the past three years and it has been WONDERFUL. Thank you to the Astonished! Community for everything. My experience has been one in a million and I could not have done it without the support of each and every one of you. I fully believe in the good work that Astonished! does and am thrilled to have watched it grow and change during my time with it.

Now, it is my pleasure to introduce you to Katherine Taylor. She is taking over the role of Program Coordinator and is lovely, bright, and just the right person for the job. I know that Katherine will do great things for Astonished! and I am so excited to watch her (from afar!) in action. Astonished! is lucky to have gotten her and she is so lucky to have gotten Astonished! Over to you, Katherine!



Thank-you Ella! It has been such a pleasure learning the ways of Astonished! from such an amazing individual. I am very sad to see Ella go, but also extremely excited for this new opportunity.

A little about myself:

Like Ella mentioned previously, my name is Katherine Taylor. I come from a small town in Saskatchewan, and am happy to reside in Regina again! I completed my Kinesiology degree in the Fall of 2014 from the University of Regina, and then moved to Saskatoon to accept a position with a physiotherapy clinic. Although I enjoyed my time in Saskatoon, I knew Regina was a place that I soon wanted to get back to! Working with the disAbility community has always been a significant part of my life. Throughout high school I volunteered with the Parkland Therapeutic Riding Association, and then once moving to Regina, I found myself involved with organizations such as Creative Options Regina, Best Buddies, and Camp Easter Seal. These organizations expanded my knowledge, experience, and love for this field of work. Some of my favourite things to do are going home to visit the farm, spending time with friends, travelling, and camping in the summertime with my boyfriend. I hope to soon get to know more individuals involved with the Astonished! community as my time here continues!



Celebrating IDPD 2015

Every year on December 3rd people all around the world celebrate the UN International Day of Persons with DisAbilities (IDPD). It aims to increase public awareness, understanding, and acceptance of people with disAbilities, and celebrate the achievements and contributions of people with disAbilities. This year’s theme is Inclusion Matters: access and empowerment for people of all abilities.

We at Astonished! are joining in celebrating this day!   Over the past couple of weeks we have had two events to commemorate this special day: an awareness day with popcorn sales, and our first annual Walk and Roll. We have  been so fortunate to have the help from a group of Kinesiology students who are in Dr. Brenda Rossow Kimball’s KIN 342 class “Developmental Disability and Well Being.” Part of their class requirements were to partner with an organization to raise awareness of IDPD and of the partner organization. This group, Kaili Gilroy, Chelsea Jones, Kaylee Giesbrecht, and Anne Tomyn, set up a booth in the Riddell Centre at the University of Regina and offered popcorn along with information about IDPD and Astonished! While they were set up in the Riddell Centre, they also accepted donations which they contributed to their Walk and Roll team. In total, this group raised $465 for the Walk and Roll fundraiser and also raised awareness of IDPD and Astonished!   Thank you!

Astonished! is also celebrating IDPD by having a party at the Owl on December 3rd from 2:30 until 4:00. If you are interested, please come and share in a toast to IDPD!

Photo: Anne Tomyn, Kaylee Giesbrecht, Kaili Gilroy, and Chelsea Jones