Retired Associate Professor

BA, BEd (Ireland); MEd (Queen's); EdD (Toronto)

I was born in Nyeri, Kenya, East Africa in 1950 and grew up feeling totally at home in a land full of snakes, monkeys, ants, chameleons, and hyenas. I was a wild child whose life focused on being outdoors climbing trees and running without shoes. I had broken my arm three times before I was nine and photographs from that time show me as ragged, dirty, and tomboyish staring with a sullen, defiant look at the camera. School was not a central part of my experience, just a place to be confined before going outside. Freedom was important and has been a theme in my life ever since.

In 1960 my father’s medical needs forced the family to move to England. It was a shock to face London’s drab streets with people dressed in coats and boots against the seeping rain. Everything seemed oppressive and constraining to me as I struggled to come to terms with being in a new country. I did not feel at home. Fortunately I found myself in an experimental, public school in London. It was the heyday of radical educational change for the elementary programs in England and I recall my excitement as we pretended to be ancient Britons by making caves in the school hedges or learned about farming by watching the school principal shear the sheep that grazed in the fields around the school. We learned science through hands-on experiments. We created museums, drama productions, and art exhibitions, and enjoyed an exceptional physical education program. The teachers were caring and passionate about the approaches they used and soon I was on fire with learning. My academic achievement and creativity were fostered and encouraged. I felt special and could not wait to get to school each day. In 18 short months that school and those teachers shaped my fundamental beliefs about education, and while they have gathered depth over the years, the values remain intact. Once you have experienced what is possible in education, it is very hard to accept that school needs to be confined to classrooms, rigid programs, or traditional, transmission approaches to instruction. By the age of 11, I was totally convinced that education deserved to be one of the most exciting things about life.

Before I turned 12, we moved to Ireland, a country I dearly love. Though the educational system was very traditional, the teachers cared about us as young people and pushed us to learn. Moving to Canada in 1975 I was fortunate to teach in Ontario for seven years and in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut for 17 years in dynamic, progressive public school systems. In the NWT and Nunavut the work was often overwhelming as we faced many social problems, and an array of linguistic and cultural complexities in an ever-evolving system. I watched many promising, talented educators burning out in northern classrooms and as I moved to UPEI my philosophy turned more and more towards building resilience in preservice teachers and developing caring, communities to help teachers to stay alive and connected to themselves and students. I believe that when we are intellectually and spiritually alive and engaged, our teaching is infused with energy and passion.

Recent Publications

Decolonizing cyberspace

The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 2011

Protecting embers to light the qulliit of Inuit learning in Nunavut communities

Études/Inuit/Studies, 2009

Protecting embers to light the qulliit of Inuit learning in Nunavut communities

Études/Inuit/Studies, 2009

Voice of the community

Andes Press, 2008

Families learning together

Canadian Journal of Native Education, 2008

Research Classification

  • No classification given

Research Interests

  • Inuit educational leadership
  • Decolonizing indigenous education
  • Parental involvement in indigenous education
  • Student engagement in indigenous education
  • Foucauldian ethics
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