2017-10-18

October 15 proclaimed Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

by Brittany Wentzell

  • <p>CONTRIBUTED PHOTO</p><p>MLA Tim Houston, Paula Harmon, and Premier Stephen McNeil pose for a photo after the bill passed on October 13.</p>

Thanks to the efforts of a South Shore woman, the Nova Scotia government has proclaimed October 15 as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.

Tim Houston, MLA for Pictou East, re-introduced the bill at Province House following a press conference on October 11. The first bill only made it to the second reading, but just three days after re-introducing it, Houston's bill was a success. It passed with unanimous support of all MLAs in the legislature.

The move to re-introduce the bill partly came from the advocacy of Paula Harmon, formerly of Bridgewater and currently living in Halifax, who has spent months traveling the province and writing municipalities in hopes of having the proclamation made.

"It was monumental," Harmon told LighthouseNOW. "It's validating for the parents and the children that they lost."

Harmon started an advocacy group to bring awareness to miscarriage and infant loss as well as make the subject less taboo. Her group also hopes to create memorial gardens, dubbed Gardens of Grace, for parents dealing with miscarriage or infant and child loss.

"So many families think they are alone," said Harmon in a news release. "But I want them to know they are never alone. Losing my child was the saddest thing my family could ever go through. Nothing will replace her, but by proclaiming this day, we can at least honour her and the other children who were gone too soon."

Harmon spoke to LighthouseNOW in early September and disclosed how she had lost her three-year-old daughter Grace to an unexpected condition involving invisible scar tissue last December. After a mourning period, Harmon took it upon herself to start advocating for families dealing with the same grief.

South Shore municipalities, including Municipality of the District of Chester, Town of Bridgewater, Town of Lunenburg and the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg, signed on to the proclamation and some also agreed to light up municipal buildings in pink and blue as a part of a "wave" of light.

The Town of Mahone Bay and the Region of Queens Municipality do not make proclamations.

According to Harmon, 28 municipalities have agreed to make the proclamation.

"We've got a long way to go but this is a good first step to start the conversation," she said.

Harmon, as well as Raylene MacPherson - who lost her unborn child and spoke out on support systems for miscarriage the last time Houston tried to pass the bill - were present for press events regarding the re-introduction of the bill.

Harmon will be present at a ceremony at Halifax's city hall on October 15 where the building will be lit up pink and blue for an "international wave of light."

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