Vilia Tosio – A woman of strength, a voice of leadership

By DAWN BOOTH, Managing Editor of Connect Weekly

Vilia Tosio

Vilia Tosio

Vilia. If you’ve learned to know the name through the Fort McMurray grapevine, you are aware that such a name means much more than five letters. Because the woman with this name is one that has reached out to many residents who play the name game – them being parents and mothers.

I first met Vilia Tosio in April 2011, after I just recently co-launched snapd Wood Buffalo – my first child was four months at the time. Tosio was starting a project of her own: The Fort McMurray Breastfeeding Support Group.

With many commonalities between the two of us, we adapted a great community friendship. So, last fall, when I learned the news from her that she had brain cancer, I had a sense of disbelief (Something I think we all encounter when first bearing bad news).

Through more of her philanthropy efforts, Tosio has been a leading force behind bringing midwives and a birthing centre to Fort McMurray. You may have met her at community functions or at the midwife rally hosted back in 2013.

She’s also been found at workshops and programs with Leadership Wood Buffalo (LWB). And most recently, Tosio put together a video presentation on YouTube for the LWB cohort, which spoke about the possibility of having a local birthing centre.

She compiled the presentation with the assistance of her son when she was on a recent trip in New Zealand. This was after she had the brain tumour removed and she was there visiting with family. Her taking the time to put the video together is just one example of her driven dedication to our community.

In our latest phone conversation, she said she’s feeling better and regaining her eye sight. She shared what the past couple of months have been like and how she greatly values her partnership with her husband Mike.

Through our conversation, she asked me how I was doing and we began to discuss my personal concerns with motherhood. You see, this is the type of person Vilia is. Here she is, battling brain cancer, but still has so much humour and positivity in her. Moreover, she’d rather see how I’m doing and share her support with me.

She’s one of the most selfless people that I have ever met. And, Fort McMurray is honoured to have her voicing women’s health.

She’s one of the most selfless people that I have ever met. And, Fort McMurray is honoured to have her voicing women’s health.

Every woman I spoke to recently about Vilia have all agreed that she has changed their lives in some way or form. Whether she was guiding them through a mental or physical struggle; or challenging them to bring out their confidences and eliminate their insecurities.

One thing is undoubtable. She has our support.

Our support with the hopes she gains full recovery and our support on continuing to fight for our community needs.