Izzy Dolls - A Canadian Gift of Love to Children Experiencing Trauma. You can Help by Knitting or Crocheting these Dolls!

Posted in Community Programs / Immigration News

Izzy Dolls - A Canadian Gift of Love to Children Experiencing Trauma.  You can Help by Knitting or Crocheting these Dolls!

Izzy Dolls, a gift of love for children experiencing trauma around the world.  

For over two decades, Canadian soldiers and health care workers have given out more than 1.3 million of the tiny dolls, a gift of peace, to children in worn-torn countries and regions affected by natural disaster. 

The dolls have helped to put a smile on children’s faces during difficult times. The public can help get these dolls into the hands of the thousands of refugee children who resettle in Canada. They can be knitted or crocheted.  www.izzydoll.ca  

Many innocent children coming into our country have been 'bumped around from place to place', have had to leave everything behind - and these little dolls will bring them some comfort.

History of Izzy Dolls

The 'Izzy Dolls', which cannot be bought or sold for profit, were inspired by and named after Master Cpl. Mark Isfeld of No. 1 Combat Engineer Regiment (Canadian Military), who served on peacekeeping missions in Kuwait and Croatia in the early 1990s. There, he was deeply affected by the suffering of children he encountered. Because they often had to quickly flee from dangerous situations, many children he met had no toys or personal possessions, as they had to leave them behind. His mother, Carol Isfeld, started knitting little woollen dolls that he could give away to the kids he met. 

Isfeld was killed in Croatia in 1994 while removing landmines, and his mother has since died. But the legacy of the Izzy dolls lives on.

The dolls - at first made either as boys with the peacekeepers’ UN blue berets or girl dolls with braids and a floppy hat, are now made in many different versions and colours by volunteer creators.  They are to be about six inches tall and kept light so they are easy for soldiers or others to carry in their pockets.

There is a design on the website http://www.izzydoll.ca/dolll/dolll.html that can be followed. Typically they are made out of scrap or donated wool and take about three hours to make.

Those creating the dolls share that the process can bring on an “overwhelming” sense of emotion, knowing the gesture will cause a ripple effect, and have testified to the joy it gives to know that this small gesture can mean so much to a hurting child.  

“It’s about the person knitting the doll because to me it speaks for Canadian women. It says we care about the children of the world, we care about the soldiers and health care workers; when they get the dolls there’s always smiles on their faces - and when you are knitting the dolls knowing that all that love is coming from Canada to the children of the world.”  (Quote from the former Canadian Coordinator)

Youth have also been interested.  Through the program 'Encounters with Canada', sponsored by Veterans Affairs Canada, selected students have participated in a program where they discover their country through many experiences - including an Izzy Doll workshop (where they learn the story/history and finish making a doll to be donated to a child in some troubled spot in the world). 

Distributing agencies have increased over the years, and children around the world have received Izzy Dolls from the Toronto International Police Officers in Afghanistan, ICROSS Canada, Canadian doctors on short term medical missions, and various Canadian charities, including refugee settlement agencies, which continue Mark’s legacy.

The Izzy Dolls continue to bring comfort and smiles to the faces of the children around the world, in Mark's memory.

Instructions to make the dolls can be found online at http://www.izzydoll.ca/dolll/dolll.html - for both knit and crochet.

A printable copy for both knit and crochet can also be found here

In Regina, there is a special drop-off location for the Izzy Dolls:
Regina 'Izzy Doll' Drop Off Location

Thee Lingerie Shoppe
4037 Albert St, Regina SK  S4S 3R6 

Locally, Regina Open Door Society (RODS) staff distribute the Izzy Dolls to refugee children arriving from many countries. RODS is the local Settlement Organization serving Government-Assisted Refugees (GAR's). The story of the dolls is printed and shared with the family (sometimes translated into different languages).  See and download the story here.

Izzy dolls will also be given to private sponsors to share with sponsored refugee children.
If you are part of a group sponsoring refugees, please contact the RRLIP (Regina Region Local Immigration Partnership) office at 306-529-6505 or [email protected] for further information on receiving Izzy Dolls to distribute to refugee children you have sponsored, in Regina and district.


There is a continued great need for refugee sponsors in Canada.  As seen recently in Afghanistan and other countries, there are more and more displaced persons around the world who seek a place of shelter, safety and peace. 
For more information on the process of privately sponsoring refugees, see the Refugee Sponsorship Training Program website at http://www.rstp.ca/en/ 

In Regina, RSTP collaborates with Regina Open Door Society to have monthly training seminars.  As well, the RSTP trainer is available for private meetings and consultations - either online, or in person.  Helen Smith McIntyre can be reached at: 306-343-8303 ext 107 or [email protected] 

As well, the RRLIP coordinates a support network for Sponsoring Groups in Regina - hosting meetings, bringing information on resources available, and connecting local sponsors.  Please contact the RRLIP if you are interested in learning more, getting on the email list or attending a meeting. Call 306-529-6505 or email [email protected]  for details.