Creating a community: catching up with Kaitlyn Hillier
By Emily Stonehouse
In a small town, sometimes we don’t see the scope of the world for what it is. For Kaitlyn Hillier, she knew Minden was only the beginning.
The full-time content creator resides in Sydney, Australia, with her twin toddlers Oscar and Brooks, and her husband, Harry. “But Minden will always be home,” she said over a FaceTime interview, “and I really want my kids to grow up knowing this community.”
While she was waking up and I was winding down for the day on separate continents, she took some time out of her busy schedule to chat about growing up in Haliburton County, making her big move overseas, and finding her community online.
Hillier grew up in Minden, and attended Archie Stouffer Elementary School before heading to Haliburton Highlands Secondary School. She was active in all athletics as she worked her way through school, but was bitten by the travel bug shortly after. Hillier went on to explore different corners of the world before landing in Toronto. “I was exploring and partying and doing the things you do in your 20s, but I always knew at my core that I wanted to be a mom,” she said, “so I really did want to meet someone.”
This was when her paths crossed with Harry Bunton, who was on a year-long contract position with work in Toronto, but was born and raised in Sydney. The two met after he had been in Canada for only a few short weeks, and the two became “inseparable” according to Hillier. “We were both all in.”
When Harry’s contract came to an end, the two had to make a big decision: stay in Canada or head back to Sydney. “So we decided to trade in snow for beaches,” Hillier laughed, “and we didn’t think it would be a forever thing. We thought we could have an adventure together.”
But then, four months after they settled into their new home, the world shut down with the COVID-19 pandemic. Hillier knew that if she left Australia, she would not be allowed back in indefinitely while the lockdowns ebbed and flowed, so they made the decision to make the most of this new chapter in their lives.
Kaitlyn and Harry got engaged shortly after, before finding out that they were expecting their first child together. “I remember going to that first ultrasound, not knowing what we were having, and thinking to myself ‘there could be two in there!’ But I really never imagined that that could be true!”
Twins do not run on either side of the family, so when the couple found out that it was not one baby, but two, life started getting pretty interesting. “I was so happy,” said Hillier, “but also so, so scared. It was the height of the pandemic, I was living in another country without any family. I felt super isolated, and really scared.”
This was when she turned to social media. “Google had become a very scary place,” said Hillier, sharing that she didn’t know where to turn when it came to questions about the high risk pregnancy, “so I started looking up hashtags on Instagram, and I would read what other moms said, I would message other moms, and it would bring me to real people who were going through this. It was the only thing that would bring me comfort and peace of mind.”
At this point, Hillier started documenting her own pregnancy journey; showcasing the highs, the lows, and everything in between. “I always wanted there to be an educational component,” said Hillier, “and an overarching theme I share is to be the realistic mom. I try to show all the angles of that.”
Hillier noted that while social media is a place where people can connect, she recognizes that it also has the ability to be dangerous. “It’s easy to compare yourself to some of the moms you see on social media,” she said, “but if all you ever see is that shiny outlook, it can really impact your mental health.”
That’s why Hillier is dedicated to showcasing the real and raw side of motherhood, hoping to connect with mothers around the world who may be feeling the same fears, challenges, and isolation that she continues to experience on occasion. Her following has reached over 215,000 on Instagram, and 430,000 on Tik Tok. “I just think about some of the things I wish I had heard when I was pregnant or those early days of motherhood, and I try to talk about that, so that other people don’t feel so alone.”
While she has found her community online, Hillier reflected back on the community she has at home. She brings her family back to Minden every summer, but for now, she knows that Sydney is home.
“There are so many opportunities for my kids here, and I know some of these things just wouldn’t be possible in a small town,” she noted. “There is such a diversity of activities here.”
But while Sydney may be home, she continues to carry Minden in her heart, and raise her kids with the compassion that she believes she learned from growing up in Canada. “I’ll forever be very proud of Minden.”
Did someone you know graduate from Hal High and are doing great things in the world now? We’d love to share their story! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to be featured in an upcoming Where are they now? column.