Interesting Vancouver Presents: Where Are They Now? Gaby Eirew, IV16

“What you need to do […] creatively, doesn’t shout. It whispers to you. Listen to it in the quiet depths. It’s amazing how many people want to come and join you.”

In celebration of Interesting Vancouver’s 10th anniversary, we reconnected with a speaker from each year to find out where they are now.

This week we’re featuring the recipient of our inaugural IV Prize, Gaby Eirew. She is the director and founder of Recordmenow, a free app that gives people an opportunity to leave messages for their loved ones after their death.

When Gaby and her family first arrived in Vancouver, she came up with wacky and fun ways to help her children get over the separation from their loved ones in the UK. First, she started putting up flyers looking for an older couple to play her children’s grandparents. That quickly progressed to dressing up as an old woman herself to go to her child’s ‘Grandparents Visiting Day’ at school.

These fun and games were enough to fill the gap for a while, but when Gaby suddenly lost two close friends, her entire life changed.

For the next five years, she began putting up adverts on craigslist and on the walls of community centres and spoke with 500 people who had experienced loss (with a focus on people who’d lost their parents as a child). She asked them what information they wished they’d known about their loved one.

Her original plan was to write an article with all the data she collected. However, after listening to so many people speak about the death of their loved ones, it inspired her to create an app encouraging people to record a part of themselves instead.

Unfortunately, it was not an easy road turning this dream into a reality.

After many false starts, it was hard to believe there was a reason to even continue this project. But by the time Gaby reached our stage for IV16, her Recordmenow app was being used in 32 countries around the world, even receiving about 14,000 clicks a day.

“We made it for children who’ve been left behind, but what’s really amazing is that it gives people who are dying – even if they have no next of kin – a chance to think about their life and reflect on it.”

Since her talk, Gaby has been co-writing a book with the Division Head of Palliative Care at UBC, Dr. Pippa Hawley. ‘A Rather Unusual Time: The No Fear Guide to Death and Dying’ will be released early in the new year — its main focus is providing guidance for those nearing the end of their lives.

The reception Gaby received at Interesting Vancouver gave her the courage to continue with this heartwarming project. Her most memorable IV experience was connecting with the wacky and varied people from IV – both onstage and off.  

For her full IV16 talk, check out the video below:

*Feature photo by Trevor Jansen

The 10th anniversary for Interesting Vancouver is happening on November 10th. Tickets are on sale now. Buy yours here.