T H E W I L D L I L Y I N S T I T U T E
Emily Isaacson Biography
Emily Isaacson Biography
Emily Isaacson does a professional photo shoot for the release of her book Hallmark, for Canada's 150th birthday.
Emily Isaacson poses in the empty mall during COVID. Spring 2020
Emily Isaacson does a photo shoot of Hayward Lake in Autumn.
Emily Isaacson was born December 11, 1975 in Windsor, Ontario. Her father was an ordained Presbyterian Minister, and built the Forest Glade Presbyterian Church. She lived in Windsor in the manse until she was six and attended the Presbyterian church with the red brick and white steeple.
Her parents doted on her and read her Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown on a daily basis, while teaching her to read words at only one year old. She could read 40 words by her 2nd birthday, and began French Immersion preschool with the Catholic nuns of St. Therese, where she also attended Kindergarden and Grade 1 while learning to speak and read in French.
Emily Isaacson's family with three young children then moved from Ontario to Victoria when she was six and lived there for 14 years, Eventually the family numbered eight, with an older foster daughter, as well as an adopted daughter the same age and grade as Emily, and Emily's three younger siblings. There were usually nine people at dinner around the Headley table, with always room for guests. It was the Sunday dinners they enjoyed the most, with a roast or delicious soup, and an invitation to someone or a family to share a meal with them on Sunday after church.
Emily Isaacson suffered from anorexia nervosa at 14 and was admitted into an out-patient treatment program called Montreux Clinic, with the clinician Peggy Claude-Pierre. She weighed only 75 lbs upon finishing Grade 9, and her tireless efforts at community work, and leadership roles both at Prep school, in sports, and in the arts left her emaciated.
She graduated from the program after six months and resumed her studies, going to a private school in English, she also studied French and travelled to Quebec in Grade 12. She won the French Award on graduation, as well as the Spirit Award, and a scholarship to the school of her choice. She took a gap year after Grade 12 where she worked for the Montreux Clinic as a care worker, now helping other anorexic and bulimic patients. What she really wanted to do was become a nutritionist herself, so she could help those suffering from eating disorders.
Emily was accepted into Trinity Western University, and moved to the mainland, where she studied as a Psychology Major for three years. The Headley family then moved from Vancouver Island to the mainland when she was twenty to a farmhouse. Eventually her two younger brothers and sisters married and there were twelve grandchildren. Her younger sister lives in Calgary; her brothers live in Maple Ridge and Campbell River with their families.
Emily finished her nutrition studies at Bastyr University in Seattle Washington, where she received her Bachelor of Science in Nutrition. She was hired out of university to work at The Center for Counselling as an eating disorder nutritionist.
Her parents lived in Mission at the foot of Bear Mountain, near Westminster Abbey. After moving back to Canada, Emily Isaacson wrote the three volumes of THE FLEUR-DE-LIS, for which she became world-famous in this home, in her blue and white Victorian bedroom.
Emily Isaacson began writing poetry at age ten, where she lived on Vancouver Island. She was first published at age thirteen for her poem, "The Wild Madonna" in a journal for doctor's offices. Although she usually had a secret stash under the bed, her hiding place as a child; she in her lifetime published over 1,550 individual poems. They were produced in over twelve books of poetry. She also did a solo art gallery exhibit (2010) and participated in three online exhibits during Covid (2021), published a photography assay (2008), and an illustrated children's book (2007).
Isacson's refined taste in what she would write and publish established her as somewhat of a Canadian icon. They were depicting her style in hair and clothing from the front of Cosmopolitan UK to the runways of Europe. We at the WLI preserve her immortal legacy.
Isaacson had numerous publishers, and also published at the WLI under her own imprint Potter's House Press. She was studied by McMaster University in a study on Canadian Authors in 2016.
Emily Isaacson takes photographs at Fish Trap Creek nature reserve where she enjoys the ducks, geese, and other birds while living in Abbotsford.
Emily Isaacson was nominated for the Community Achievement Award (2010), the Arty Award in Literature (2013, 2021), the Christine Caldwell Award for Outstanding Arts Advocate (2015), the Lifestyle in the Arts Award (2020) and was a lifetime member of Cambridge Who's Who. She also served on the board of the Mission Arts Council (2007-10) and the board of the Fraser Valley Poets Society (2013, 2018-20) in Abbotsford.
Emily Isaacson became a nutritionist in 1999, and successfully worked to reverse eating disorders. She had worked at two eating disorder clinics, both in Canada and the United States. When she started her private practice in 2005, her focus was on the treatment of eating disorders. In her life, she found that science and art must be in balance to do so effectively.
Isaacson created The Rainbow Program as a community nutrition website in 2006 to teach her global audience about eating by the rainbow. She put an emphasis on naturally brightly coloured whole foods. She successfully integrated cutting edge research on bitter "sugars that heal" into a practical dietary program. Then she taught nutrition education from a colour-based perspective at conferences, support groups, high schools, community centers, and health clinics. She also offered her colour-based program at two food banks, both in Mission (UGM, 2006) and Abbotsford (Abbotsford Food Bank 2012-2014).
Isaacson was the one of four practitioners in the pithouse at Xa:ytem Longhouse in 2009 for nine months where she studied the Stó:lō Nation and history at this historic location. Later, in 2013 she wrote the book A Familiar Shore on the future development of Aboriginal Medicine. It was greeted upon its publication in 2015 with much success and given as a gift to many people with First Nations background, even professors in the Stolo Studies department at UFV. Her publisher nominated the book for the Governor General's Award. They produced the needed print run of 300 copies. Unfortunately, the Canadian Council for the Arts has a very strict list of accepted publishers who can nominate, and her publisher's application was rejected. Her publisher then, in 2016, revealed they were in debt for $6 million. They went bankrupt.
Isaacson opened her own clinic in the Fraser Valley in 2016 as a nutritionist and offered family nutrition care by appointment at the P U L S E Nutrition Clinic. This was her own clinic after running a practice out of other health clinics and offices for over ten years. She invested $31,000 over three years in her office on First Avenue in downtown Mission City, making sure each detail of an accomplished practitioner was attended to. She worked as her own administrator, graphic designer, photographer, publisher, and bookkeeper, doing the work often of five people, as was her style instead of employing others. Not to say she did not have staff who came alongside her over the years as paid or volunteer. She worked with ten editors over a spance of 10 years, and had three secretaries, and three directors work with her over ten years time on the community projects and initiatives she coordinated as a dedicated humanitarian.
Emily Isaacson waits at Starbucks on a break for a Save-On-Foods demo as a product ambassador. She spent weekends doing demos at over 15 stores across the Fraser Valley, Aldergrove, Langley and Maple Ridge.
Emily Isaacson founded what is now the Wild Lily Institute in 2005. There were many news articles written locally about her. We have decided to re-publish the articles and links to them as well as the dates they appeared here.
Isaacson was trained in Creative Writing at TWU. She later began to write full-time in 2005, and did not publish her poetry volumes until 2011 when she was 35. She later submitted poetry to numerous journals, calls, and contests, and even submitted a novel to the Bath Contest in the UK.
She became a Restorative Justice facilitator and mentor through Mission Restorative Resolutions and Abbotsford Restorative Justice and Advocacy Association (ARJAA). She has learned many lessons along the way about building a restorative community, healing, and acceptance.
In her early years, she spoke to dietitians and nutritionists about behaviour modification and its limitations in treating eating disorders. She sought to inspire people instead of controlling them. Her belief was firm that behaviour modification could not bring about significant changes in people, but that love and acceptance did.
Her readers learned from the inside out, skills of conflict resolution, and healing through forgiveness. Her themes included the sea, circle keeping, healing the community, forgiveness, and reparation.
Share with us in this timeless ecumenical prayer (below).
All photos used by permission.
Emily Isaacson photographed Beacon Hill Park in Victoria in sepia.
Emily Isaacson photographed the clematis on the fence of the enclosure, at MSA Hospital.