Suz, Liz and Yasmin 2005 sale

Who we are

Turn to the Sun is a Canadian grassroots non-profit group which comes together annually in a fundraising effort to support community based HIV projects in sub Saharan Africa. We are nurses, other health care and support workers, people living with HIV, school classes, families and friends.

What we do

Volunteers grow ornamental sunflower seedlings in their homes, at work and in a small, family greenhouse. The annual sale, which typically features at least 25 varieties of sunflowers, is held on the Mother’s Day weekend.

$6, 239.00 was raised in the 2014 sale! Last year's proceeds were donated to the Stephen Lewis Foundation which distributed the money to grassroots projects focusing on direct care and programs for HIV/AIDS impacted families.

Why we started

Suzy Coulter, a community nurse in the Downtown Eastside, was inspired to start Turn to the Sun in 2005 after she volunteered for four months in Kisumu, a city in Kenya with one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in that country. She decided to raise sunflower seedlings after meeting a Kenyan woman living with AIDS whose income generating activity included growing sunflowers for seeds. The chickens were fed the seeds and the income from selling the chickens and eggs helped support her family.

Alice, Siaya District, Kenya 2005

Current HIV/AIDS Statistics:

From UN AIDS website (March 2010)
There are currently 33.4 million people world-wide living with HIV.
That number is about the same as the entire population of Canada.
There are currently 22.4 million people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa.
60% of the people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa are women.
HIV is the leading cause of death and disease among women of reproductive age (15-49) world-wide.
In 2008 alone, there were 430,000 new HIV infections in children, all from Mother to Child transmission.
With no treatment, the rate of transmission from Mother to Child is 30-35%. With antiretroviral therapy and replacement feeding the rate is reduced to 1-2%.
Globally, there are now 5 million people on antiretroviral therapy. However, this represents only 42% of those in need of treatment today, and there are 5 people newly infected every day for every 2 people started on treatment.
20 million kids will be without one or more parent because of AIDS by 2010.

Fundraising efforts so far

Since 2005, Turn to the Sun has raised over $58, 679.00! These funds have provided support to women’s programs affiliated with:
Ann and Emily, Ryder Lake 2006

Volunteer growers

For 2014, the lineup will feature many returning growers including the students at Chief Maquinna Elementary and Gary, Val, Murray, Kath, Laura, Yasmin, Fiona, Suz, DB, Sal, Ann, Norma and the Chilliwacky GoGos.

Amazing Volunteers

Kath , Sally, David, Roy and Michael, Paul, Monique, Anna, Jean, Laura, Joanne, Daphne, Fiona, Suz, Rowan, John and ZsuZsi.


The following local businesses generously donated various seeds, seed starter mix, pots, music, and honey:

Magnet Hardware (Commercial Drive), Garden Works (Burnaby), Pacific Northwest Seeds and Fiona Gold of Fee's Bees Honey.
open quote We all participate in weaving the social fabric. We should therefore all participate in patching the fabric when it develops holes. close quote

Anne C Weisberg

Media coverage

Turn to the Sun’s efforts have been featured in local and nursing publications, including:

Contact Us

For more information or to volunteer contact Suzy Coulter at or Kath at 604.251.4065
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