Cindy Heske, formerly of Kitimat, now lives near South Hazelton and has an arts and crafts show at the Misty River Art Gallery.
Heske, under the direction of Kitimat doctors, chose the Hazelton area for her relocation because of her ailment.
For more than 18 years she has dealt with what is known as Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, which is a hyper-sensitivity to a plethora of airborne and chemical agents.
“If ever I go to a hospital I usually end up in the emergency room because of all the chemicals involved in a hospital,” Heske said.
“So I pretty much stay as close to home as possible.”
Heske has to carry an epi-pen wherever she goes because she never knows when she’ll encounter a chemical that will trigger a reaction.
One specific reason led to Heske’s relocation.
“The air quality in Kitimat was the major reason I had to move,” she said.
“I’m highly allergic to diesel and chlorine, so I have to stay away from most major centres.
The only real difficulty Heske has now is when her neighbors burn wood stoves, but that is more easily dealt with than keeping adequate drinking water for herself.
“I can’t drink the tap water here,” she said.
Even if I boil it more than once I have to throw it out, so I basically drink spring water.”
However, all the environmental limitations have fostered an artistic side.
“I paint a lot now,” Heske said, adding that she started dabbling in art around 2005.
“I do a bit of everything from abstract, to landscapes and still life.”
Heske gets by on full-time disability stemming from MCS, but is hoping to get a few sales from her creative ventures.
“The Grand Cache, Best Western hotel actually bought one of my paintings a while back,” Heske said.
“But the first painting I sold was to an art gallery in Alberta and I was kinda like, ‘I can do that?’
“And have been painting ever since.”
Along with painting, she crochets and makes beaded ostrich eggs.
“They’re really unique pieces of work,” she said.
“I haven’t even been able to find anything like them on the Internet.
“I make stands for them to sit on as well.”
Although Heske hasn’t made one sale at Misty River, she is undaunted.
“I have a pretty good life here,” she said about her house, which is made of recycled wooden palettes.
“I have a gorgeous view of the Seven Sisters.”