The Story of the Izzy Doll, Calgary; Linda Blackwell

Uploaded by AccessibleMedia on 27.11.2012

ANNOUNCER: From our community to yours. this is...
Hi, I'm Linda Blackwell with Accessible Media,
and I'm standing in Peacekeeper's Park.
Now, it was built in 2004 on what was the former grounds
of the Canadian Forces Base Calgary.
The park features a wall of honour
that commemorates Canadian peacekeeping missions
and pays tribute to those who have lost their lives.
There's also a bronze statue,
which depicts a Canadian peacekeeper
giving an Izzy doll to a child.
So what is an Izzy doll?
Singer-songwriter and author Phyllis Wheaton
tells us about this remarkable and touching story
in her book In the Mood for Peace:
The Story of the Izzy Doll.
PHYLLIS: I had seen an Izzy doll in an exhibit
at the Museum of the Regiments,
and it made me smile.
And I realized "Why am I smiling?
"This is a war museum.
And what is a doll doing in a war museum?"
I'll never forget that.
The education director said,
"This is called an Izzy doll.
You have to meet Carol and Brian Isfeld."
LINDA: Carol and Brian Isfeld are the parents
of Master Corporal Mark Isfeld
who served with the 1 Combat Engineer Regiment
of the Canadian Military Engineers.
PHYLLIS: Well, Mark Isfeld was a very compassionate soldier.
He felt for the abandoned,
the elderly he saw, the children.
And one day he took a picture of a doll in the rubble,
and he showed it to his parents when he was on leave,
and he said, "These children don't have a childhood, Mum.
"A little girl has lost her doll,
and a doll has lost her little girl."
And so, his mother decided she would turn to
her knitting basket and maybe make something
that he could fit in his soldier's pocket
and give out to children as he met them.
And so that's what she did.
She designed a little boy doll with a blue beret,
and a little girl doll with pigtails,
and sent them to Mark.
And he started giving them out to the children.
He did that for his second tour of duty
in the former Yugoslavia,
and then on his third tour of duty in Croatia,
Mark was killed and his troop asked
if they could continue to give out the dolls.
And that was actually the beginning of
the phenomenon of the dolls.
LINDA: Phyllis had written a song about the Izzy doll
and subsequently formed a bond with the Isfelds.
In 2007, while in Calgary for a peacekeeping event,
Brian paid Phyllis a visit.
He showed her family photos along with letters
Mark had written while on peacekeeping missions.
They also talked about the family's history.
At the time, it was a little puzzling.
PHYLLIS: Why is he doing this?
And I thought, you know, something in my head said
just be quiet and listen, and I did.
Later that week,
Brian went back home to Vancouver Island
and his wife passed away the next day.
Brian passed away five months after that.
And then, it became a little more clear, maybe,
why he gave me this, but I still wasn't sure
what I was supposed to do with it.
Two years after that passed, and someone sent me an article
about the Izzy doll that-- the facts weren't correct.
They were distorted.
And I knew then that I had to write everything down
or another great Canadian story would be lost.
LINDA: She then devoted the next two and a half years
to interviewing, researching, organizing
and eventually writing In the Mood for Peace:
The Story of the Izzy Doll.
At the heart of Izzy are its creators:
the women who dedicate their time
to handcraft the dolls that are given to children
around the world
as a beacon of peace and hope
in a time of war and suffering.
NARRATOR: Linda and Rick Wright, the National Vice President
of the Canadian Association of Veterans
in United Nations Peacekeeping,
walk along the wall of honour
in Peacekeeper's Park.
RICK: There's 323-- or 25 people's names on these walls
that died in the service
of the United Nations.
Most members of the Canadian Forces
signed up because they believed that they could do something
to help the country and to help other countries.
We're not in this to take over the world.
We're not in this to take over another country.
We're here to help
because that's what Canadians do.
NARRATOR: Phyllis reads from In the Mood for Peace
and relates her own observations
of the Izzy doll.
PHYLLIS: "The Izzy doll is soft and cuddly.
Not forced upon, it is given freely
and accepted easily.
It cannot be bought or sold,
therefore has no monetary power.
A gesture of kindness, it brings hope
to those who have lost hope.
It is created by and distributed by volunteers,
all who are in the mood for peace
in a world full of woes and wrongs.
It is cheerful and right and it is a gift of peace.
LINDA: For Accessible Media, I'm Linda Blackwell.