By Mike Straus
Anja Dumas was named a Capital News’ Community Leader of the Year in the courage category at the 4th Annual Kelowna Capital News Community Leader Awards, held at Okanagan College, Oct. 23, 2017. The Community Leader Awards are given to local members of the community who demonstrate exceptional commitment and leadership.
Courage in the face of adversity is something Anja Dumas shows every day.
Dumas has been the head baker for the Westside Daze Canada Day cake since 2012, when she first took responsibility for crafting the 24-square-foot patriotic dessert. Every year, Dumas has handcrafted the 17-layer cake that West Kelowna citizens know and love.
And that includes this past year when she was in her regular spot at Canada Day, even after suffering a workplace accident that resulted in the loss of much of her dominant arm.
This August, while working at Nature’s Oven, Dumas’ right arm became stuck in a commercial dough mixer and was drawn into the machine.
WorkSafeBC ruled it wasn’t the fault of the operator and the equipment did not have the proper safety equipment.
However, Dumas was determined to continue working for Nature’s Oven and to continue baking the Canada Day cake. She had already created plans for the Canada 150 cake, and didn’t want her work to go to waste.
Dawn Wilkinson of Kelowna Community Resources, who nominated Anja for the Courage Award, says that Dumas had planned to return to baking almost immediately.
“Visitors at the hospital expected to comfort Anja, but they were shocked to find that she was in high spirits and more determined than ever,” said Wilkinson. “She’s a woman of her word. At the Canada Day celebrations, a 4-by-6-foot cake shaped as a Canadian flag was unveiled to the public. It fed 500 people.”
Dumas is now learning to write and bake with her left hand, and she continues to participate in employment mentoring activities at Kelowna Community Resources.
“I’ve had my prosthetic for two weeks now,” she says. “When I came home from Langley last Friday I just wanted to keep baking, cooking, and crafting. You just have to keep going.”
Dumas will be returning to Langley in the near future for prosthetic training, and will soon be taking driving lessons and a road test, as is mandated for all BC drivers following the loss of an arm or leg.
“I want to drive again. I want to be independent.”
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