ANGELA BLENKHORNE - FOUNDER, CHAIR, LEAD FACILITATOR
A passionate advocate for alternative resources for grieving kids, Angela has been navigating grief since the age of 14 when her father died.
Turning this experience into action to help bereaved kids find a sense of community by
honouring their losses together and remembering how to thrive again was the driving force
behind creating Bernie's Buddies.
For over 20 years, Angela has worked with kids' and youth groups through teaching skiing,
yoga, and facilitating peer support networks.
Angela's interest in offering alternative support options has led to continued education in
grief support, workshops, and seminars. In addition, she has held senior roles in several industries, including oil and gas, restaurant and event management, snow resort operations, and non-profit charitable organizations.
SUE SMILEY - DIRECTOR
Sue Smiley is a retired university and community college educator living in the Annapolis Valley
of Nova Scotia.
In private practice since 1998, specializing in grief and loss, Sue believes children are the true
teachers on grief and have much to teach adults on this topic.
She has spoken nationally on a variety of grief related topics as well as a resource for local
DARLENE MACARTHUR - DIRECTOR
Darlene MacArthur has over 20 years in the legal industry working in the area of corporate law.
She has worked with clients ranging from small start-up companies to large global organizations
as well as with non-profit organizations.
Her belief in supporting children going through a tough time in their lives is the reason for her
support of Bernie's Buddies. Plus there is an added benefit of meeting some amazing children
and adorable dogs!
BERNIE THE SAINT BERNARD - CO-FOUNDER
Bernie the gentle giant bounced into Angela's life as a four month old pup. Bernie was found
out on the cold winter streets by an animal rescue group. She was deaf since birth, had no tail,
and wasn't one bit concerned about any of these things. The story of how Bernie adopted her
fur-ever family was published in Dogs in Canada magazine.
Bernie's undeniable connection with kids was the piece that solved the alternative grief support
puzzle and inspired using therapy dogs in Bernie's Buddies workshops.
Bernie also visited with other youth organizations, community groups, schools, and summer
camps from 2009 to 2016. Bernie died in 2017 at the age of 9 but her legacy lives on through
the four-legged volunteers who are so important to our programs.
We're proud to have committed volunteers to help us provide programming - their participation in our vision creates a positive impact in supporting Calgary's bereaved children.