published in Animals, Change, Charities, John Petropoulos Memorial Fund, Police, Wolves, Workplace Safety by Maryanne | September 14, 2019 | No Comments

Can a Sad Story Save a Life?


“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

– Martin Luther King

Can a sad story save a life?

I don’t know. But this much I do know: doing nothing in the wake of a preventable tragedy won’t bring about a better future. That’s the belief I’ve built my life on for the past 19 years.

When John died of a brain injury after stepping through an unmarked false ceiling in 2000, several of his police recruit classmates stepped up to the plate and started a memorial fund in his honour. Nearly two decades later, the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund is still going strong, raising public awareness about why & how people can make their workplaces safer for everyone, including first responders.

Over the past 19 years, the JPMF has produced eight 30-second workplace safety public service announcements that have aired over 2 million times on TV. The Fund’s powerful 10-minute safety video has been viewed in presentations, at conferences and on-line thousands of times.

In 2020, the JPMF will be producing a new PSA that will raise awareness about the shocking fact that since John’s death in 2000, nearly 20,000 Canadians have died as the result of a workplace injury or illness.

Yes, you read correctly: 20,000 Canadians.

From my perspective, one workplace fatality is one too many; 20,000 deaths (and thousands of life-altering injuries and occupational illnesses) is unacceptable.

It’s time to create a new legacy for workers – and their families – in Canada.

For further information on the new PSA and/or to make a donation to assist with production costs, here is the link.

Or perhaps this fundraiser might be of interest…

John and I both loved wolves. I suppose you could say wolves were our spirit animal…whatever that might mean to you. What that means to me is that, as a person and a police officer, John shared similar characteristics to that of a wolf: integrity, honour, courage, dedication, loyalty, commitment to excellence and being a strong team player.

John and I used to sponsor a wolf in Alberta through the organization, Wolf Awareness. Our sponsored wolf’s name was Nakoda and she was the alpha female of the Peter Lougheed Pack. John and I used to love reading updates about her and her pack’s activities.

When John and Nakoda died within a week of each other, I began to wonder if there really was some sort of connection between John and I and wolves?

I’ll never know for sure, of course. But the JPMF chose the wolf as the logo because the police pack is rather like a wolf pack…

“For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.”

– Rudyard Kipling

Since 2005, more than 2000 wolves in Alberta alone have been killed inhumanely: shot from helicopters, poisoned with Strychnine or caught in strangling snares. Wolves in Western Canada are running out of places to hide…they need our help.

And so, as a fundraiser – and to raise awareness – for both the JPMF and Wolf Awareness, I wrote a little story: A Wolf Called Nakoda. 

The story is $9.95 (plus $2 shipping), with $2 from each story sold going to the JPMF and $2 to Wolf Awareness.

The story is printed on small cards (2.5 inches x 2.5 inches), held together by a stainless-steel book ring and packaged in a pretty little gauze bag with matching tag. The story is 900 words, 22 cards total.

To order, please visit our Etsy store.

Can a sad story save a life…of a wolf and/or a worker? 

That remains to be seen. But this I know: raising awareness about issues that matter is an integral part of bringing about change for the better…and organizations such as the JPMF and Wolf Awareness are doing just that.

Thank you for caring…and for sharing.

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her weekly blog, please sign up here.






published in Beauty, Inspiration, Photos, Travel by Maryanne | August 20, 2019 | 2 Comments

Welcome to the Jungle – Ecuador Photo Blog #5


MA, Lynne & gang on the Nepo River in the Amazon basin, Ecuador

“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.”

– Robert Swan

Finding the above quote for today’s blog sure got me thinking.

This is the fifth & final photo blog about our Ecuador adventure…

After the Galapagos, we returned to the mainland (Cumbaya, a suburb of Quito). I love this photo…I was buying a belt from a guy outside a market and this old fella was supervising the transaction:

Basílica del Voto Nacional, Quito, Ecuador

Then we headed to the Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest. Our base was the ever so lovely La Casa del Suizo jungle lodge (I highly recommend it…the food was outstanding). From there, we did day trips as well as an overnight stay in a local community…right IN the rainforest (our hut was on stilts; the ants were HUGE).

Our mode of transportation was by boat on the Nepo River (a tributary of the Amazon River):

Amazon-sized leaves, primary forest

Yours truly ticking another item off the bucket list: hiking in the Amazon 🙂

Our community-stay in a local village…

Muddy trails


Margarite the matriarch


Goofing around with selfies (looking a little wild)


Goofing around with a blow gun

And look what we found on a tree in the village…if you look closely, you’ll see it is hundreds & hundreds of caterpillars:

Another thing we found in the village…two of our own group dubbed as princesses:

Lynne & Nancy were singled out (in a good way) by the local women for asking lots of questions

Back at the La Casa del Suizo, we heard an informative presentation by the sister (third from right, back row) of our Altropico guide, Sante. She works with OMASNE, an organization that raises awareness about mining development in Ecuador. Their hashtag is #Bosques Sin Mineria, which means Forests Without Mining.

Some of us in our OMASNE t-shirts

“Destroying rainforest for economic gain is like burning a Renaissance painting to cook a meal.”

– E.O. Wilson

We also visited a butterfly farm just down the road from our lodge…

Check out the GOLD cocoons!

After leaving the butterfly farm, we walked past a school and I popped my head in a classroom and snapped this pic:

Not to be outdone by Lynne’s princess-status, I received some recognition of my own on the tour as a DOUBLE WINNER of the Party Animal Award AND the Sung Hero Award. No wait…I think it was called the Unsung Hero Award – but by the time I was finished wearing it for a few days, they may have had to rename it…a humble Double Winner I am not.

And that’s a wrap! Our adventure was truly a trip of a lifetime and I am beyond grateful that I was able to go. Thank you for sharing in my photo journey…and if you have a hankering to go to Ecuador yourself, I highly recommend traveling with Experience International and Altropico. I have been blessed to travel to many places but these two organizations ensured my time in Ecuador was a truly unique (and fun!) experience that I will never forget.

Thank you Charlie & Sante…and Lynne, of course, for putting up with me. Rooming with a Double Winner cannot be easy 🙂

About Experience International Study Tours

Experience International (EI) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational organization based in Bellingham, Washington. Incorporated in 1988, their mission is to embrace and create opportunities for international understanding and human resource development through technical and cultural exchange in a wide spectrum of disciplines including but not limited to agriculture and natural resources. EI also works with community and choral groups of all ages that travel and often sing to celebrate human diversity, peace, and social justice; to exchange and share with local groups and communities off the beaten track.  Please click here for details. 

About Altropico

Altropico is an organization committed to social and environmental causes in the binational region of Ecuador and Colombia. They collaborate with indigenous, afro-descendant and mestizo organizations, with programs and projects oriented to the good living of their populations. Please click here for further info.

Related Blogs by Maryanne

Great Galapagos – Is that a Giant Tortoise or What?!

Surviving Inti Raymi – Ecuador Photo Blog #3

Magical Moran – Ecuador Photo Blog #2

Walking the Line – Ecuador Photo Blog #1

Celebrate Good Times – Saying Goodbye to Sadie Pope

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her weekly blog, please sign up here.


The Gift of Tough Love

“Today, I live where I want to live, do the work I believe in, and travel where I wish to go. I have a freedom I never thought imaginable. But not a day goes by that I don’t remember the tremendous cost at which this freedom came. John gave me everything he could in life and what he couldn’t, he gave me in death. As difficult as it was for our relationship to end with an argument, his tough love words turned out to be a tremendous gift.”

– Maryanne Pope

Need a kick-in-the-pants to get you back on track to achieving YOUR dream? 

You might want to read this article of mine that was recently published in Love What Matters:

What would you do if the death of your soul mate meant the birth of your dream?

‘I am so scared,’ I said to my husband, John, while walking our dog, ‘of waking up 20 years from now and still not having finished writing a book.’

John stopped, turned to me and said, ‘You’re probably right about that, Maryanne…just as long as you know that will have been your choice.’


Then he leaned back his head and laughed. ‘Geez,’ he said, ‘I can be a real jerk.’

But in all fairness, we’d been together for 12 years by that point. That’s a long time to listen to someone talk about writing—yet doing very little in the way of actual writing. John’s dream had been to become a police officer. It had taken him eight years to get hired and I had watched him every step of the way as he worked towards his goal. Little did I know he’d also been teaching me the perseverance it took to achieve a dream…

Please click here to read entire article.

A huge heartfelt thank you to Eliza Murphy at Love What Matters for sharing our story!

Maryanne & John, 1994

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her weekly blog, please sign up here.