Born in 1978, as the youngest woman ever elected to the Islands Trust, the municipal level of government for the Gulf Islands of British Columbia, Bronwyn Preece served two terms on the often fractious board of governance, from 2002 to 2008.

Having a daughter inspired her to write books for children resulting in The Gulf Islands Alphabet (Simply Read Books 2012). She subsequently wrote Off-the-Grid Kid (Eifrig Publishing 2015) and simultaneously edited a collection of homebirth stories for In the Spirit of Homebirth: Modern Women, An Ancient Choice (New York: Seven Stories Press 2015). These illustrated memoirs, all by mothers and fathers in British Columbia, are celebratory endorsements of the homebirth process. Numerous perspectives are from First Nations parents. Preece's inclination to collect and publish these testimonials was inspired by Ina May Gaskin's Spiritual Midwifery as well as her Birth Matters: A Midwife's Manifesta.

"We are not interested in lambasting the medical establishment," Preece writes. "In fact, there is much gratitude expressed in these pages for the prowess of doctors who have helped with complications. I am one of those women. Though I birthed at home, I later had to be transferred to a hospital due to excessive bleeding. For the care I received, I am extremely thankful."

According to Preece the Netherlands has one of the lowest perinatal mortality rates in the world and approximately 35 percent of Dutch births occur at home. Of the approximately 380,000 women in Canada who gave birth in 2011, according to Statistics Canada, only 1.6 percent of those women (just over six thousand), did so outside of a hospital. The statistics for B.C. however are very different from the national standard. In BC, midwives deliver about 5,500 infants each year or 14 percent of the babies born in the province. Approximatly one-third of those babies delivered by midwives are birthed at home.

Not merely a hippie back-to-the-lander, Preece has published several peer-reviewed articles in academic journals and her play Never Cry Dam won the 2013 Act Now! Sustainability Competition and was short-listed for the Earth Matters On Stage Ecodramaturgy Playwriting Competition
in 2012. Preece continues to perform and give workshops internationally. She lives "off the grid" in a land cooperative in the Gulf Islands of British Columbia that she helped to establish in 2000.

Also an improvisational performance artist, Bronwyn Preece completed her SSHRC-funded MA and BFA with distinction (both in Applied Theatre) at the University of Victoria from 2007 to 2013. She was awarded UVic's 2009 President's Academic Award in the process, en route to pursuing a Ph.D in Theatre in the U.K.


The Gulf Islands Alphabet
(Simply Read Books 2012) 978-1897476291

Off-the-Grid Kid (Eifrig Publishing 2015) $14.95 978-1-936172-84-9

In the Spirit of Homebirth: Modern Women, An Ancient Choice (New York: Seven Stories Press 2015) $18.95 9781609805791

[BCBW 2015]