Kate Toye and her children Griffin

Heart of our City: Kate Toye does it for the kids

Prince Rupert’s Kate Toye is glad she always followed her intuition, as it led her to happiness.

Prince Rupert’s Kate Toye is glad she always followed her intuition, as it led her to happiness.

“I enjoy my life; I’m grateful for my life everyday,” Kate said.

Kate is a born-and-raised Rupertite, who spent a great deal of her childhood in her parent’s corner store. Kate’s parents had purchased Henry’s B-Y when she was three, running the ma-and-pa business for 28 years all together.

Henry’s B-Y opened at 10 a.m. and closed at 10:30 p.m. each day, which meant long hours for Kate’s parents. It also meant late nights for Kate, her two sisters and  her brother.

“We had a low-lying magazine rack and I remember sleeping on it when they were doing boat orders,” she laughed.

“My parents worked every day of the year [except Christmas] … I think my work ethic came from seeing how hard my parents worked in the grocery store.”

After graduating high school, Kate moved to Edmonton and, later, Whistler. In the mountain resort town Kate met a group of Australians who inspired her to visit “the land Down Under”.

Shortly after, Kate embarked on an international adventure.

“The minute before you’re going on the plane [is so scary the first time you go travelling]. But after you go, you’re changed forever,” she said.

Kate backpacked around Australia for more than a year before heading to New Zealand. For six years Kate made travelling a priority, occasionally returning to Prince Rupert to make enough cash to continue on.

After a trip to the United Kingdom, Kate made her way back to Oceania.

Kate was working a split-shift in an Australian café when she got an unshakable urge to return to Canada.

Although she had no idea why she had this desire, Kate decided to listen to her heart. On her break, Kate purchased an airplane ticket to Prince Rupert and when she returned to work she informed her boss she was leaving.

Today, Kate is glad she followed her instincts because while in Canada she met her partner Ken Oesch; the pair has spent the last 18 years together.

“If something tells you to go or do, you should go and do,” Kate said.

For the next decade Kate and Ken lived in Ontario, opening a café called The Smiling Dog.

The café hosted countless musical performances and art exhibits over its nearly 10 years in operation, which was inspired by a Prince Rupert establishment.

“I had worked at Cowpuccino’s and really loved the energy,” she explained, adding she also incorporated ideas from other coffee houses she worked in to create a place she would like to frequent.

Nearly a decade ago Kate became pregnant with Griffin, the couple’s first child of three.

“I would do 15 hour days while pregnant. I remember falling asleep on the totes of flour,” Kate laughed.

“His first year of life was spent in the coffee house.”

But when she became pregnant with Wiccem, Kate and Ken decided it was time for change.

“I wanted more kids … so we made a decision to move,” Kate said, noting they’re still in contact with former café regulars.

Seven years ago the family relocated to Prince Rupert in order to be close to Kate’s family.

A few months later Kate started working at Northern Savings Credit Union, taking on the role of Success by Sick regional coordinator about four years ago.

“I’m very passionate about my job. I absolutely love it,” Kate said.

“I have no idea how many hours I put into it a week, but when it’s your passion it doesn’t matter.”

Kate said she loves meeting and working with people from around B.C. and Canada who are advocating to create change and opportunities for all children.

There’s plenty coming down the line for Success by Six, says Kate, including the first-ever Children’s Day in the Park later this year.

And Kate’s Success by Six work extends beyond Prince Rupert. She also works in Hartley Bay, Kitkatla, Lax Kw’alaams and Metlakatla and loves visiting the communities.

“The people are so amazing. I’m so honoured by the connections I’ve made,” she said.

“I’m Métis, so it’s wonderful that I’m learning more about myself, as well as the Tsimshian culture.”

While Success by Six demands a lot of Kate’s time, she’s thankful to have her family’s assistance.

“I couldn’t do anything I do without the incredible support I have from Ken,” said Kate, noting her children also regularly help her out.

On top of career and family responsibilities, Kate has been involved with the Prince Rupert Skating Club for years and sits on the executive of the newly-formed Prince Rupert Gymnastics. Kate said it’s a dream of hers to see both groups expand in future years.

Kate said she aspires to be like Prince Rupert’s Charlotte Rowse, and has been an avid volunteer over the years.

As her parents did with her, Kate hopes to instil a desire to help their community in her children.

“I think that anyway you can make a positive impact, no matter how small, is a huge thing,” she said.

Although community involvement and her career are extremely important to Kate, nothing comes before her kids.

Four years ago Kate and Ken welcomed their second daughter, Quayen. Kate spends as much time as possible with her three children, exploring the outdoors and finding ways to have fun.

“I just love to be in their presence. Whatever they’re wanting to do, it’s an honour that they want to include me in that,” Kate said.

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