January 20, 2019

Eva DeBoer’s career in mental health and social service often opened doors to other pastures. In fact the first thing she bought when she had real money from her first job was a horse - a beautiful American Saddlebred with a sweet disposition who she trained herself, and who her own children would learn to ride on. If someone had told her that one day her career would lead to a friendship with a tarantula named Rosie, would she have believed it?

She might have. Eva takes surprises in stride, and is always ready to see new possibilities. 

Later on, her career saw her working as a parole officer and probation officer until her retirement in the wake of health problems caused by an accident. Eva had to readjust in terms of how much she could do each day, so that’s when she decided to open her own therapy business, Insights & Outsights. It was a good fit: Eva’s respect for nature and its healing power were woven into her practice to help others, and she enjoyed a new flexibility in terms of time and energy, which allowed her to try new things. 

In 2012 she volunteered in a community development and social innovation project. A long out-of-commission paper mill in Sault St. Marie was being repurposed into a cultural hub that would include a farmer’s market, music venue spaces, museums, and a conservatory. In the early stages, Eva gave historic tours around the site to visitors, and performed community outreach to help develop more ideas for the site. 

One of the ideas that came from that was for an insectarium. When it came to fruition, it was the first insectarium in Canada where the insects could be taken out of their terrariums for adults and children to interact with. It was here that Eva began to see how therapeutic it was for kids: they loved it! There was no fear; everyone was coming out of their shells. Eva thought, “we need to do a therapy program with these bugs.” 

And that’s how, in 2019, The Good, The Bad, and the Buggy was born. Eva ran the program in-person at the farmer’s market after hours, and later from the fields of the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre. When Eva sees great big open spaces, she sees opportunities for wellness in her community. 

Over the course of the pandemic, Eva began adapting the program to a digital format by writing it into a script that will be filmed and made into a six-week therapy program. The storytelling element appeals to Eva, who had loved writing as a child. Now rich in stories from her work in the realms of nature and human emotion, Eva feels compelled to make like Rosie and weave those threads into something beautiful, and useful.