Sidney’s Life

Cailin Sidney Shea McIntyre-Starko died tragically at the age of 18, far too young for any of us to comprehend.  Many of you know her as Cailin, more recently she changed her name to Sidney. Sidney was born and raised in Vancouver and spent the last 4 months of her life at the University in Victoria.

Ken Starko and Caroline McIntyre were privileged to be her parents and Oliver was blessed to have her as his sister.   She has loving grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins in both Edmonton and Ontario, and she spent large parts of her summers with her cousins whom she adored in a small cottage community called Tenaga.

Sidney entered the world with a strength and determination that she carried throughout her short life.  She was a funny, bright, loving, engaging child who grew into a strong, passionate, clear eyed young woman who had a remarkable depth and breadth of compassion and understanding for those around her.  She was capable, resourceful, and creative.  She loved her family and friends fiercely.  She was kind, generous and loyal in her relationships.  Sidney gave you her full attention when speaking with her and always tried to understand the meaning of your words.   Her honesty and authenticity were inspiring. Sidney could be energetic and adventuresome but she also enjoyed quiet moments.  Some of our family’s fondest memories will be the fun we had when we were all at home playing games where we all enjoyed her quick wit and sense of humour.

Sidney loved little people… babies, toddlers, kids whether family, friends, or little ones she taught at dance.  She had a love for all living creatures with a very special place in her heart for her dog Lucy.  From an early age she loved to read and was passionate about novels based in fantasy and Greek mythology.  She has an impressive collection of books, many that she read, reread, referenced and shared with friends.  Sidney had a gift for words, often articulating a thought with a clarity that could take your breath away.  She was a self-confessed serial crafter, teaching herself many skills including sewing, carving, crochet, pottery and metal work.   When giving gifts, Sidney always preferred to make a gift so she could give a small part of herself with it.  Those around her often received her hand made creations.

When Sidney pursued something, she invested herself completely.  This was most obvious in her love, passion and dedication to dance and music.   She started dancing when she was 6 and continued dancing and competing until she graduated from high school.  She danced multiple styles ranging from ballet to hip hop and everything in between.  When performing she could connect on a deep emotional level; other times she would uplift her audience leaving them energized with a sense of joy and passion. In addition to dancing, she contributed to her studio in as many ways as she could.

She built furniture, cleaned, organized birthday parties, volunteered as an assistant teacher and, in her final year, she proudly became an instructor.  She held the hands of little ones during their first recitals and helped spark their love of dance by contributing to making the studio a warm friendly and fun place to dance.  Many of her closest friendships were forged at dance and she had many instructors who became important mentors in her life.  Sidney also shared her father’s passion for singing and playing music.  She taught herself to play the ukulele, the guitar and the piano.  She recently started voice lessons and would take any opportunity to sing and perform.  She had a lovely sultry voice with an impressive range.  She was just starting to realize the power of her voice.

In September Sidney moved into residence at the University of Victoria and started her first year of a general science degree.  She was embracing life in her new city. She had built a lovely community of friends with whom she went on adventures or hung out playing games.  She immersed herself in school and was planning on declaring her major in biology with the hope of one day studying medicine.

Sidney’s life was tragically cut short. On January 29th, she left this world, donating her lungs, kidneys, liver and heart to five different people.

The loss of our beautiful Sidney leaves a hole in our hearts and our lives that will never be filled. We will love her forever.

Click this line to see a beautiful tribute posted to her by her dance studio.

From Friends and Relatives:

Sidney should be here.

I just wanted to reach out as you know I loved Cailin very much. Her friendship meant the world to me and I am in awe of the beautiful woman you raised. If there is ever anything I can do for you or your family, please reach out. I am forever thinking of her and sending so much love.

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She was smart, had so many creative talents, loved animals (even cats!) and was just an delight to talk to. When she was here for a visit, she made a point of talking with me and each of my sisters, not just hi how are you sort of thing but a real effort to make a connection. What a loss for all of us.

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I am grateful we had the opportunity to know her and was always struck by her sincerity and natural warmth and charm. Such a genuine loving and caring spirit.

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If you could pick a kid that you think this would never happen to, it would be Sidney. She’s the most unlikely. It’s just unbelievable, … When in reality, of course, this is happening to so many kids like Sidney.

Your daughter is one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met in my life I’m just so happy we got to be in each other’s lives. I’ve always had a hard time connecting with people and making friends but your daughter was one of the few people I could really connect with and be myself around and open up to without worrying about judgment of any kind.
I’m just so thankful for all the good times and the fun memories of her I get to carry with me.

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My friendship with Sidney is innate, I met her when we were both eight years old after asking the age old question: « can I play with you? » Since then, her friendship has been a given; as easy as breathing. How much we meant to each other was never in question. Sidney’s dependability was one of her best qualities. Ever since we met, she was unfailingly loyal, and to the perpetual new kid that was worth the world.
Sidney was my childhood, wrapped in a person. We danced together, we played make believe and video games together, we went to school together. I spent at least half of my weekends in middle school sleeping over. Sidney is my sister in everything but blood, and I am eternally grateful that she said yes to being my friend way back in the third grade. She is an irreplaceable lifelong friend.

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She had so much love to give and I’m honoured to have been even in a fraction of her life she was truly amazing.

VCDC Instagram Tribute:


It is with profound sadness and devastation that we share that one of our most beloved and treasured community members, Cailin, passed away unexpectedly on January 29th, 2024.

Cailin started dancing at Westside Dance Centre when she was only a teeny tiny twirler. She grew up at the studio, always finding a way to involve herself and help out in any way she could. Cailin was a VCDC-birthday-organizer-extraordinaire, dedicated assistant instructor, tireless studio cleaner, hardworking backstage helper, recital program editor, passionate student of all disciplines, all of which earned her a position as an esteemed faculty member in her final year at VCDC. She was at the studio more than any one individual in our community, and played an integral role starting up our business back in 2020.

Cailin was adored by our community of little ones on Saturdays as she collaborated with Miss Emily in leading 3 to 5-year-old dancers through fun games and movement exploration. She used to play “monster” with them, chasing them around the room whilst the music was being drowned out by a wave of high-pitched giggles. She held their hands at their first recitals, and sparked their love of dance.

Instructors at VCDC were in constant awe of Cailin’s ability to dedicate herself to so many styles simultaneously, whilst maintaining a busy school schedule and a social life. Many of us taught Cailin for many many years, and developed close personal bonds with her. We were so proud to see her venture off to the University of Victoria and live in residence.

Everyone who knew Cailin can attest to the insurmountable impact she had upon our community. She approached each tear shed in the wings at competition with compassion, each challenging new skill with a determined sparkle in her eye. Cailin did not take the responsibilities she was entrusted with lightly; she adopted these roles wholeheartedly and with great pride. We could never thank her enough for her invaluable contributions to our community.

We will love you forever, Cailin. We will keep dancing for you until the end of time. 💖

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