Vancouver Island woman draws portrait of B.C. fire chief who was swept away by floods

‘I felt their loss, and wanted to reach out to them’ says Harpaul Nandhra.

Harpaul Nandhra’s portrait of Cache Creek fire chief Clayton Cassidy.

When Harpaul Nandhra—a mother of three who lives in Cobble Hill on Vancouver Island—heard about the disappearance of Cache Creek Fire Chief Clayton Cassidy in May 2017, and how he was found three weeks later, she knew she had to do something.

“I didn’t know the family, but I read about it online when they were searching, and then when they found him,” she says. “I felt I really needed to do something for the family.”

Nandhra says that art has been a hobby of hers for many years. “I’ve been drawing since I was a kid. And I enjoy doing portraits.”

She did a pencil portrait of Cassidy based on a picture of him that she saw online. When she finished the portrait, she reached out as to how she could send it to Cassidy’s wife Rose.

“I sent the portrait to Rose, and heard back from her that she loved it,” says Nandhra. “It was very touching. I got quite a few messages back from family members saying ‘Thank you.’ Clayton’s son Derek got in touch with me and said I’d captured his father’s eyes and smile perfectly. That was what I’d wanted to do; and I started crying.

“I could tell there was so much love in that family, and could feel how great his loss was.”

Nandhra lost her own partner suddenly several years ago, and says she knew what the family would be feeling. “I felt their loss, felt for Rose, and wanted to reach out to them.”

“Friends asked me why I would do that [the portrait of Clayton] for someone I don’t know. When you’ve experienced that loss, and then hear of someone else losing someone, you feel that loss, you feel for them. You know what they’re going through, because you’ve been through that yourself.”

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