Guitarist helps girl fighting cancer

Local musician Dan Engelland hosts two concerts in support of Haida Gwaii's Kaiya Williams, who is undergoing treatment for neuroblastoma.

Kaiya Williams

Kaiya Williams

Dan Engelland is known for his weekly jams at Rosie’s Pub in Armstrong’s “blue” hotel, but this weekend and next, the blues-rock guitarist is on a different kind of mission through his music.

Engelland is performing two concerts in support of eight-year-old Haida Gwaii resident Kaiya Williams, who has a deadly form of cancer known as neuroblastoma.

“I’ve known Greg, her father, for about 20 years and I first performed on the Haida Gwaii (formerly Queen Charlotte Islands) in ‘92. We played in a band off and on over the years, and I was up there performing with Greg and others early last year,” said Engelland, who is based in the Shuswap and has also fronted local rock band The HooDoos.

Williams, who lives with her family in Skidegate and turns nine this month, has been battling cancer for the past four years, and her fight continues.

“She has undergone 15 rounds of chemotherapy, six major surgeries, 12 bone marrow biopsies, one stem cell transplant, and 24 more rounds of chemo and radiation are slated for the next round,” said Engelland. “I know Kaiya personally and we’ve played (video game) Wii together and she stomps my butt. She is a beautiful person who has gone through more than most people do in a lifetime, so you see a child who is wise beyond her years and takes her time letting people in.”

Engelland hopes to raise enough money to help Williams with the costs of a non-toxic cancer treatment method at a clinic in Texas.

“The methods used today are quite simply unacceptable,” he said. “You get stricken with cancer today and the results are the same as if it were the year 1920. I think that’s absolutely wrong.”

Engelland is holding his first fundraiser Saturday at Lorenzo’s Cafe, east of Enderby on Mabel Lake Road, and the following week, Dec. 10 at Rosie’s Pub in the historic Armstrong Hotel.

The events will feature a live music jam, 50/50 draws, and an auction of merchandise.