Tofino Profile: Thérèse Bouchard
by Jan Janzen, Tofino
is known to many people in Tofino, probably more than she knows herself.
Her talents and skills bring her into the public eye where her physical appearance is unmistakable: wild curly locks of dark brown almost black hair, big brown eyes, cool-funky to elegant clothing style, the cackling laughter of a friendly witch and a calm and powerful presence that is grounded and compassionate.
You may know her as a flamenco dancer: she's been dancing for over ten years, taking lessons here and in Spain, performing at various venues in Tofino and in Ucluelet. You may know her as a wicked percussionist, playing cajon for the flamenco troupe, congas and djembe to accompany bands or with other drummers in public or private events.
The rest of the world has caught glimpses of her lovely adventurous self in her travels throughout North, Central and South America, Europe, North Africa, and Thailand.
Therese is also in the public eye volunteering with Pacific Rim Hospice Society for over ten years (voted Volunteer of the Decade last year). She also worked seven years as a relief worker with the West Coast Women's Society. Her time working at the Common Loaf should also be mentioned, after all, that's where I first saw her.
It is however, for her present work that she is most renowned: Therese is a healer, using a variety of techniques to help people in their quest for well-being. With over 20 years of practice in Tofino, she's been continually upgrading and expanding her repertoire through courses, workshops and training to include several different body-centered treatments, massage, energy work, and healing through hypnotherapy.
Her work is where the transition from public persona to private person takes place. Here the public is offered refuge in her home and into her heart of healing. She gives each and every one of us her very best, her deepest and most sincere effort to help facilitate our well-being. (Knowing her, she'll probably blush when she reads this. I think she's humble about her abilities because she accepts the need for everyone's healing as a given: so who wouldn't put their all into it?) This is where writing this profile becomes tricky for me: we've been in love for over twenty years (more so all the time); I could write this whole thing myself, but that would be only my version of Therese, so now I will become the 'Interviewer'.
(scene: Therese's glass house, plants all around, indoor garden beside massage table, woodstove making it all cozy; from where we sit sipping tea and snacking on smoked salmon, I can see many drums on the floor, a guitar on the wall, flutes and all sorts of smaller percussion instruments hanging above her piano. Her love of beauty is apparent everywhere, from the way she decorates her home, right down to details such as gluing beautiful images over the bland covers of notepads. A sense of a calm, relaxed vitality permeates the space.)
Interviewer: What makes you happy?
Therese (smiling): "A sunny day, (smiling wider) time with my partner (laughs), playing music and dancing, playing outside, being in nature, being silly, spending time with my friends.
I: What are your views on the healing arts?
T (eyes closed, pensive look): The healing arts are about being a channel to helping people heal themselves. The person seeking help must be willing to heal and the person offering help must have both knowledge and sensitivity. I would say it's about 50% technique and 50% "listening".
I: What would you say about your own practice?
T: Aside from the trainings I've taken over the last 20 years, my listening skills have im?proved a lot: I can "hear" with my hands, with my body, with my senses. I often find that by the time people come in to see me, because of their willingness to heal, the process has already started.
We ended the interview by finishing the tea and most of the salmon, and went our separate ways for the evening: me back home to write this, and she off to a flamenco lesson. We parted as we like to: smiling, kissing and looking forward to seeing each other at the next perfect moment. Therese the private person is the one I am uniquely honoured to know: honest, insightful, hilariously funny, I could go on and on, but that's 'my' Therese, you've got your own version. We are all fortunate to know her.
Jan Janzen has been living in Tofino for two decades. His life has been diverse and creative, making art with wood, words and ink.
Tofino profile of Therese Bouchard. Written in Tofino by Jan Janzen for Tofino Time Magazine in January 2009.