FALL/WINTER 2015 VANCOUVER ISLAND UNIVERSITY
Living Better Connecting culture, nature and economy in the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region
This is your brain on learning 12
ď€‡ Young entrepreneur builds on authentic leadership 17
A grey whale legacy 22
2 VIU Magazine
Welcome to the first issue of VIU Magazine!
ANCOUVER ISLAND UNIVERSITY IS AN
developing teaching strategies to inspire deep learning
EXCITING PLACE TO BE THESE DAYS,
in their students (see story page 12)? You can also join
FOR STUDENTS, FACULTY, STAFF AND
us as we take a trip through one of the United Nations’
alumni. The University is coming into its own, having
model sites for sustainable development – the Mount
grown from its vocational and college roots into an
Arrowsmith Biosphere Region (see story page 24). Or
internationally respected university. To reflect this
learn about a new ceremony at VIU Convocation that
evolution, the editorial team that was behind VIU’s
will forever link our graduates to each other, to our
alumni magazine Journey has shifted gears to create a
faculty and to this University (see story page 20).
publication that reflects the stories that are shaping the
These are just a few of the stories you’ll find within
VIU of today, and also honouring the journey that has
the pages of our new magazine. We hope you like it
delivered us to this time and place in the University’s
and that you’ll share it widely with your contacts.
history. The result is what you’re holding in your hands –
Please let us know what you think – send us your thoughts and ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org. –VIU Magazine Editorial Team
the very first edition of the new VIU Magazine. Within its pages you’ll still find inspiring stories about VIU alumni (check out page 17). And now you’ll find
more articles that highlight what makes VIU great.
Janina Stajic, Manager
For example, did you know a team of VIU faculty
Communications & Public Engagement (right)
and student researchers are engaged in cutting
David Forrester, Manager
edge research that could revolutionize the way we
Advancement & Alumni Relations
understand environmental policy in Canada (see story page 30)? Or that VIU’s faculty are leading the way in
Editor: Shari Bishop Bowes, Communications Officer 2 0 1 5 FA L L / W I N T E R
A gift in your will can support a student’s dreams.
Sometimes economic hardship interferes with a student’s ability to focus on their studies, but with the help of VIU’s generous donors many of us are able to overcome these struggles. I was extremely grateful to receive the Stan & May Radzik Bursary of $2,000 in January of this year. The funds helped to take some of the pressure off and I was able to significantly increase my GPA
over the spring and summer semesters.
— a grateful student
Direct your gift to support a cause you care about. We’re here to help you explore how your legacy can make a difference. Call the VIU Advancement Office at 250.740.6216 to discover the options.
Advancement & Alumni Relations Vancouver Island University 900 Fifth Street, Nanaimo, BC, Canada V9R 5S5 Tel: 250.740.6216 • viu.ca/giving
The Stan & May Radzik bursaries were established by a gift in their will. The fund will continue to support students like Alison in perpetuity.
inside v i u m ag a z i n e
fa l l
7 12 17
This is your brain on learning Mentors lead the way for VIU alumnus and young entrepreneur
Graduates touched by new ceremony at convocation
Grey whale exhibit leaves legacy Living better – Connecting culture, nature and economy
Knock Knock – a story in photos On the move with real-time environmental tracking
3 3 38
Q&A with VIU’s Chancellor 2 0 1 5 FA L L / W I N T E R
STAY CONNECTED! Find VIU on social media – keep in touch, learn about events and activities, and celebrate success with us!
ALUMNI SOCIAL MEDIA facebook
FALL/WINTER 2015 VANCOUVER ISLAND UNIVERSITY
Volume 1 / Issue 1 / Fall/Winter 2015-2016 VIU Magazine is published in the spring and fall by VIU’s University Relations department and is distributed free of charge to alumni and friends. All material is copyright ©2015, Vancouver Island University, University Relations and may be reprinted only with written permission. Opinions expressed in the magazine do not necessarily reflect the views of Vancouver Island University. The VIU community acknowledges and thanks the Tla’Amin, Qualicum, Snaw Naw As, Snuneymuxw, Quw’utsun, Halalt, Penelakut, Lyackson, Chemainus and Lake Cowichan First Nations on whose 6 VIU Magazine traditional lands we teach, learn, research, live and share knowledge.
Vancouver Island University MANAGING EDITORS Janina Stajic Manager, Communications and Public Engagement
COVER DESIGN Strategic Marketing We welcome letters to the editor. Editor, VIU Magazine
Manager, Advancement & Alumni Relations
900 Fifth Street, Nanaimo, BC V9R 5S5
EDITOR & WRITER Shari Bishop Bowes CONTRIBUTORS Marilyn Assaf, Communications Officer Brian Kingzett, Manager, Deep Bay Marine Field Station Gloria Bell, Island Expressions Photography
email@example.com Canadian Publications Mail Agreement #40063601
VIU Spotlight Totem poles rise above Shq’apthut Two ceremonial totems are standing tall, looking out over the Salish Sea from VIU’s Nanaimo Campus in recognition of the strong relationship that continues to evolve between First Nations communities and the University. Located next to Shq’apthut, VIU’s Aboriginal Gathering Place, the two poles were unveiled in June at a traditional ceremony and are part of an initiative of the VIU Students’ Union (VIUSU). The Totem Pole Project was introduced by VIUSU in 2014 with the goal to honour the importance of traditional knowledge of First Nations people, and provide ongoing educational opportunities for all who come to view them. The Totem Pole Project will recognize the major First Nations language groups on Vancouver Island; the first two were carved by artists from the Snuneymuxw and Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations, with a third totem pole representing the Kwakwaka’wakw Territories to be erected at a future stage. The Western Red Cedar trees, from which the totems were created, were provided as gifts from Island Timberlands, Western Forest Products, TimberWest and First Nations from Vancouver Island.
The public is welcome to visit the new ceremonial totem poles. This one was carved by Noel Brown of the Snuneymuxw First Nation.
VIU Powell River welcomes Dr. Greg Cran as new Campus Administrator Dr. Greg Cran has joined VIU Powell River as the new Campus Administrator. A Lund resident, Dr. Cran joined VIU in August from North Island College where he was Dean of University and Applied Studies. He has worked as an administrator at Royal Roads University and taught at the University of Victoria in dispute resolution. Dr. Cran has past experience working for the BC government in treaty negotiations and policy analysis, and also has a broad range of international experience in teaching and working as a consultant to the World Bank Institute. “Greg is keen to start working toward a reinvigorated model that includes the advent of new program ideas and business possibilities for skills development, which fits right in with his entrepreneurial spirit,” said Dr. David Witty, VIU Provost and Vice-President Academic.
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Students, alumni vie for $17K in prizes in VIU business plan competition
VIU students collaborate on ideas for the VIU Business Plan Competition.
Fans of CBC’s popular Dragon’s Den show enjoyed a business idea “pitchfest” at VIU, where contenders for $17,000 in cash and prizes presented their best ideas in hopes of taking the top spot in VIU’s Business Plan Competition. Open to VIU alumni and students, the second
annual competition recognized the strong entrepreneurial spirit in the region and offered valuable skills and expert coaching to entrants. Business mentors from the community volunteered their time to coach participants in everything from financial management to professional presentations. Finalists in the competition came together Dec. 4 at a Dragon’s Den-style pitchfest, where a grand prize winner was chosen from top entries in the student and alumni categories. The top prize included $2,500 in cash and a package of donated business services valued at $7,000. VIU partnered with lead sponsor the Pieter de Reuver Foundation as well as StartUp Nanaimo, the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation, Young Professionals of Nanaimo and
Coastal Community Credit Union. Regional business partners donated business services that include graphic design and web design service, a City of Nanaimo business license, a banking package from Coastal Community Credit Union, desk and meeting space at SquareOne, business consultations, and memberships in Young Professionals of Nanaimo and the Nanaimo and District Chamber of Commerce, along with several other business services. Last year’s alumni category winners were Jessica Reid and Patrick Whelan with their business Rewild Homes, which builds tiny, affordable homes on wheels. In the student category, Elisa Köhler took top spot for her idea for a smartphone app that links grocery shoppers with food allergies or intolerances to the right food products for them. viu.ca/bp
New health clinic serves VIU students VIU students now have access to a medical health clinic on the Nanaimo campus. Developed in partnership with Island Health and with support from the Nanaimo Division of Family Practice, the new VIU Health & Wellness Centre provides students with a holistic range of health and medical services in its mid-campus location in the Student Services Building. Many students who study at VIU, particularly those who come from outside the city to attend university or who are among the University’s 1,600 international students, do not have a family physician. The clinic is staffed by Nurse Practitioner Diane
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Middagh and Medical Office Assistant Heather Carr, who together offer clinic services Mondays through Fridays to students who drop in or make appointments. As well as medical services, registered students can also access counselling, advising, disability services and financial aid.
Fulbright Canada and VIU to establish new Visiting Research Chair in Aboriginal Studies Fulbright Canada, one of the most prestigious scholarship programs in the world, has chosen VIU to be the home of their newest research Chair, the Visiting Research Chair in Aboriginal Studies. Fulbright Canada chose VIU because of the leadership role the University has taken in building relationships with First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities and supporting Aboriginal education. The new Chair will focus on research related to reconciliation and Aboriginal education. Part of the Chair’s role will be engaging VIU students in the research process as well as continuing to build relationships between the University,
First Nations, Métis, Inuit and the broader community. “The establishment of a Fulbright Chair at VIU demonstrates that regional universities are engaging in work that has a profound impact in their own regions, on the national policy agenda and around the world,” says Dr. Ralph Nilson, VIU President & Vice-Chancellor. “For many years, VIU has recognized the importance of working with First Nations, Métis and Inuit in our region to support Aboriginal education. We respect different ways of knowing and have established strong and respectful relationships across many communities. We thank Fulbright
Canada for recognizing VIU’s strengths and providing the University with support that will allow us to enhance our work in this important area that is so essential to our nation’s future.”
Earth Sciences 4th-year student Cody Broda talks about his research at the 2015 CREATE conference.
VIU CREATE Conference presents the best in student scholarship Students studying in VIU’s undergraduate programs get a chance to present their best work from major projects and research to the public in the annual VIU CREATE Conference. The three-day event held near the end of March each year is a chance for students to share posters, displays, presentations and performances on their scholarship.
The public can wander through displays, learn about the wide variety of research activity at VIU, and sit in on the “Scholarship Slam”, involving minipresentations by students and faculty. VIU CREATE is capped by an awards presentation each year. See viu.ca/ research/create for 2015 winners and news on the spring 2016 event.
Students who participate in research and major projects, and who present their work at VIU CREATE, are building a research portfolio that can assist them in applications to graduate school and in research scholarship applications.
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VIU hosts Canada-Mexico Roundtable on Indigenous higher education VIU hosted delegates to the CanadaMexico Roundtable on Indigenous/ Aboriginal Higher Education in June. Discussion centred on natural resource extraction in territories held by Indigenous people; the role of postsecondary institutions in Indigenous language training, education and retention; and Canada-Mexico collaborations in Indigenous Higher Education.
First day speakers included Douglas White, Bob Pasco, Matt Pasco, Rob McPhee, Ovide Mercredi and Shawn Atleo. It was moderated by Roshan Danesh. One of the highlights of the roundtable was a student panel, which examined the theme of “Language and Culture Retention”. The panel discussion, called “The land: its language, its sounds and its stories”, was presented
by three VIU students: Katelyn Beale, currently completing a BA with a major in Criminology and a minor in English; Emily Johnston, Graphic Design; and MaryDawn MacWatt, working on a Bachelor of Education with a BA major in First Nations Studies and a minor in English. VIU Elder Florence James also took part in the panel discussion. The conference was sponsored by TECK.
New Speaker Series on Indigenous Peoples VIU has joined The Laurier Institution and CBC Radio One Ideas to host an annual speakers series focused on reconciliation and engagement with Canada’s Indigenous peoples. The series was announced as part of an event marking the release of the draft report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in June. It will be held each year in Nanaimo on the traditional territory of the Snuneymuxw people. The lectures will be hosted by VIU’s
Centre for Pre-Confederation Treaties and Reconciliation with involvement from the Shqwi qwal for Indigenous Dialogue. The Shqwi qwal (or “Speaker” in the Hul’qumi’num language) is Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, past chancellor of VIU and former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations. The first in the series took place Nov. 26, with Atleo presenting on “Daring Greatly together: Re-imagining Canada”.
Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo was the speaker at VIU’s inaugural Indigenous Speakers Series.
‘Mind Over Metal Summer Camp’ sparks interest in welding trade
Tansor Elementary Grade 7 student Rori Wratten gets hands-on with her project at the “Mind Over Metal Summer Camp”.
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Twenty young students got a chance to try their hand at welding in August at the “Mind Over Metal Summer Camp” at the Cowichan Trades Centre. The cost of the camp for students aged 12 to 15 was fully covered through a donation by the Canadian Welding Association, in partnership with VIU and School District 79. The young people learned about welding equipment and tools, welding safety and symbols, along with an overview of how welding impacts our daily lives. The highlight, as expected, was a chance to have some fun with real arcs and sparks, crafting a few small projects to take home. VIU will run two camps in summer 2016.
public lectures & films
Take part in VIU’s public lecture and film series Stimulating discussion, fresh ideas, diverse perspectives and opportunities to meet new people and forge new interests. These are just a few of the reasons why community members are getting involved in VIU’s free or low cost public lecture, film and learning sessions.
The Arts & Humanities Colloquium Series One of the most popular lecture series at VIU is the Arts and Humanities Colloquium Series, now in its sixth year and running three free presentations in each of the fall and spring terms. Faculty (and sometimes student) presenters share their expertise on a variety of topics including contemporary culture, design, art, music, literature and the impact of technology. For those with a scientific bent, join in on one of our spring Science & Technology Lecture Series presented by VIU professors and visiting scholars. Past topics have included “Marine natural products: medicines from the sea”; “Bring back the bluebirds: Avian restoration in the Georgia Depression” and “The legacy of glaciation in Canada”.
Film buffs can enjoy two film series – the Worldbridger Film Series, which screens films on Thursday evenings at the Nanaimo campus and the Alternative Film Series, which presents films on Friday evenings. Drop-ins (and their donations!) are welcome at the Worldbridger series, while the Alternative Film Series, moderated by retired professor Ron Bonham, costs $30 for six evenings and is by pre-registration at 250.740.6400.
SATURDAY SPEAKERS VIU’s ElderCollege program offers a Saturday Speakers series, with several presentations each fall and spring. Recent offerings included a talk on the Department of Fisheries and Ocean’s large whale disentanglement program, and another on the life of ordinary Germans in WWII and beyond. See viu.ca/eldercollege. Beyond lecture and film series, there are many other opportunities throughout the year to take in presentations by VIU faculty and students. Check out the VIU Events Calendar at viu.ca, join the Facebook.com/VIUniversity page, or send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org for information on any of the above opportunities to learn and connect with us at VIU.
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EARNING IS A TRICKY BUSINESS. AND REMEMBERING WHAT WE’VE LEARNED SO WE can use it later in our careers and lives can be trickier still. As you read this, thousands of VIU students are poring over textbooks, reviewing lessons online, studying for tests and pondering key points they heard in inspiring lectures. You’ll find them deep in conversation with their professors and each other, making sense of new concepts, complex information and challenging ideas. At VIU, the goal is to ensure learning follows students out of the classroom and into the rich learning journey that is their post-secondary education and right into their future careers and lives. Instructors across disciplines are doing this in a number of ways from using tried and true teaching practices to implementing technology in different ways to support classroom learning. Some are also delving into the latest research on learning and using it to inform the way they approach teaching. At the foundation of these methods is a concept called “metacognition”. Simply put, metacognition is the process of thinking about how we think and thinking about how we learn. A growing number of faculty, with support from VIU’s Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning 12 VIU Magazine
(CIEL), are introducing students to new learning approaches based on research into metacognition. You might think these au courant teaching methods would be inspired by Apple, the latest gaming technology, or the highest tech online learning platforms. While there’s no doubt technology is an important learning tool, it might come as a surprise that most of the new teaching and learning methods have more to do with people than computers. Professors inspire students to take risks in their learning and delve into questions that interest them so much they’re burning to report their learning back to the class. Words like “autonomy”, “reflection”, “transparency”, and even “discomfort” are common in discussions on teaching methods that result in deep learning. As students benefit from different approaches to learning – including tactics that help them remember what they’ve learned and apply what they’ve learned in a new context – they’re set up for success beyond the classroom. What they’ve learned sticks with them, following them into their new job and along their chosen career path. We checked in with some VIU instructors to hear about the learning strategies they’re using to inspire and engage their students.
DR. KEN HAMMER, Retired Professor, Faculty of Management, Tourism and Recreation Management and Master of Business Administration “Deep learning isn’t necessarily comfortable, but it’s invigorating and exciting,” says Dr. Ken Hammer, who’s retired after 33 years’ teaching at the postsecondary level, including 17 at VIU. Dr. Hammer refuses to believe there’s a great divide between the academic world and the world of work and service that lies ahead for students. “Students, once they graduate, will bring their character, their discipline and their deep learning to work,” he says. “The deep learner becomes a deep worker in many ways.” Reflection, lots of planning and constant evaluation have been key to Dr. Hammer’s approach to developing and refining his deep learning teaching strategies. “The last few years I’ve been experimenting a lot in one course,” he says. “I wanted to make it more real.” In their course on strategic leadership and innovation, fourth-year students in the Tourism and Recreation Management program led a small team
This is your brain on learning by Shari Bishop Bowes
of first year students in an assignment that involved organizing a recreation or leisure activity. While the assignment presented challenges for the students, including the need to coordinate schedules amidst their busy class, work and personal lives, the exercise presented many opportunities for deeper learning.
Students, once they graduate, will bring their character, their discipline and their deep learning
“There was mentoring that went beyond the assignment,” Dr. Hammer says. The fourth years were tasked with supporting the first years through their assignment, but also took the time to share valuable information – like what the first years were to expect in the coming years of the program, and how they might best take advantage of coop work experiences available to them. After the experience of coaching and delegating responsibilities amongst the first-year students, the senior students came away with a deeper appreciation of leadership – and a taste of what they might expect in the work world ahead.
Dr. Hammer was also motivated to design courses and employ deep learning instruction techniques by another firm belief he holds: each learner is unique and different. “I try to design something that has flexibility for the learner; we know each learner comes with a different package.” At one point in his career, Dr. Hammer was giving some deep thought of his own to the idea of how class participation could best be measured. He had long challenged the idea that only students who spoke out in class and asked questions were the best participants. “I arrived at the notion that it’s not about participating, it’s about contributing to the class and how you can contribute in many ways.” While an obvious measure of participating is simply showing up, students in Dr. Hammer’s classes were also measured by other, less obvious contributions. Students who listened attentively and showed they were receptive to others were recognized, as were those who shared articles, observations or “a-ha” moments in class, on field experiences or in online learning platforms. Dr. Hammer wants students to understand that their contributions in class will one day soon be contributions in their work or in service to greater society. “We need a worker that’s adaptable,
can think, and is curious and innovative and good with people, and humble, with a professional will to succeed.”
PAIGE FISHER, Professor, Faculty of Education There’s a wave of change in BC’s K-12 education system, with BC’s Ministry of Education engaged in a transformative agenda that is affecting every learner and teacher in the province’s classrooms. Paige Fisher, a professor in VIU’s Bachelor of Education (BEd) programs for the past eight years, and an experienced classroom teacher with 12 years in the K-12 system, remembers a faculty retreat three years ago when she and her colleagues decided they were going to keep ahead of that wave. After a day-long presentation by a Deputy Minister of Education on the education transformation to come, Fisher and her colleagues set out to develop strategies they hoped would best prepare student teachers for the teaching and learning environment they would face upon graduation. Soon after that retreat, Fisher began an experiment that she hoped would immerse her students in the classroom
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environment before they began their required teaching practicums. “When I started at VIU I was wondering ‘How am I going to teach my student teachers how to teach something without kids?’” The solution she landed on involved teaching her students right in a school, rather than in a VIU classroom. For example, Fisher might teach a class on reading assessment to her cohort in an elementary school. “I teach them in the morning, then they go directly into the classroom and practice it, then they come back and debrief.”
When students keep delving into questions that interest them, they sometimes don’t learn what they expected and usually uncover more
This term, five cohorts of VIU’s Bachelor of Education and Post Baccalaureate students are in four elementary schools and one high school in Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools and one elementary school in Parksville. “Autonomy, authenticity and community connections – those are really big pieces of what we’re trying to do,” says Fisher. Fisher believes the success of new initiatives in the BEd and Post Baccalaureate programs can be attributed to strong collaboration among faculty and to creating a “powerful learning mindset” in student teachers. There’s a cyclical nature to autonomous learning, Fisher says. When students keep delving into questions 14 VIU Magazine
that interest them, they sometimes don’t learn what they expected and usually uncover more questions. “We’re trying really hard to help our students understand that teacher education isn’t the end of your learning,” she says. “It’s just the beginning.”
CHARLENE STEWART, Faculty, Adult Basic Education and Academic and Career Preparation On their first day of class, students attending Charlene Stewart’s math literacy course in VIU’s Faculty of Academic and Career Preparation can be found sitting quietly alone, likely wondering how they are going to progress through a course that stands between them and their future hopes for a career. “A lot of learners are older and have been out of school for a while, or maybe they didn’t do very well in school, or even like school,” says Stewart. “So they come with a lot of history.” Math literacy students, then, might be surprised to find the first day’s topic in Stewart’s class is anything but math. Rather it’s about what they expect from learning, how they feel about learning and, ultimately, about strategies that will set them up for deep learning and success in this course and the ones that follow. “In my top things for learning, one would be a safe space for learning and the second would be being part of a community, whatever that looks like – you learn with support,” says
Stewart, who has been teaching at the secondary and post-secondary level for 14 years and expects to complete her Masters in Educational Leadership at VIU this year Stewart immediately gets classmates talking to each other. Before long they are helping each other in a course that covers the very basics of math to the Grade 9 level. The first day, classmates take part in a “graffiti” activity, gathering around poster paper on the walls where they’re asked to write one reason they’ve chosen to come to the class and a few words to describe how they’re feeling. “They write words like ‘nervous’, ’anxious’, ‘don’t like fractions,’ ” Stewart says. “Students tell me later, ‘I thought I was the only one who was that anxious about math.’ ” Stewart also teaches higher levels of math, as well as Biology and Chemistry 11 and 12. These are courses full of students eager to attain the best results possible to get into Science or Nursing programs. In these courses, Stewart encounters students expecting to continue learning just the way they learned in high school. “They’re using the same techniques, but they’re not working. They’ll say, ‘I stayed up all night and studied, how come I didn’t do so well on this?’ ” At this early point in her class, she introduces students to strategies for learning how to learn. “It’s about knowledge organization,” says Stewart. “How we organize our knowledge sets us up for how we’re going to access it later.”
Strategies like concept mapping or mind mapping are employed, where the main ideas are collected together to form a grouping that is relevant and more easily recalled after the lesson.
How we organize our knowledge sets us up for how we’re going to access it
In a biology lesson on how urine is formed in the body, for example, Stewart will draw a large image of a nephron – the basic functioning unit of the kidney – across the chalkboard and have the students work together with her to label the diagram. Using guiding questions, she encourages students to think about what they had learned previously on the subject and connect that knowledge to the new concept of nephron function. “They’re actively doing it, you can see the flow through the system, you can almost visualize movement, you have words describing what’s happening and you’ve got colour.” Once a student has been introduced to new learning, Stewart encourages them to go revisit what they’ve learned the next day, even briefly. “Because after that, you forget it. If you revisit it, your brain starts transferring it from shortterm to long-term memory. The more times you revisit something, the more it sticks in your long-term memory.”
One student’s learning story Just about every student has a story to tell about an overwhelming moment they’ve had while struggling to learn something very difficult and completely new in class, a time when all they wanted to do was give up and go home. Pascal Luthi was down the stairs and on his way out of the building, ready to quit the physics course he’d just begun in VIU’s Adult Basic Education (ABE) Pascal Luthi program, when instructor Linda Neilson caught up to him and convinced him to come back and retake his seat in the class. “The first day was just absolutely horrible, I didn’t understand a thing and I thought I was too stupid and couldn’t take it, couldn’t get it,” said Luthi, who’s glad he took that instructor’s advice a few years ago and returned to tackle the course. With help and support in completing that physics course – as well as all the other prerequisites for entrance into VIU’s Bachelor of Science degree program – Luthi scored an A+ in not only that course, but in several others he took. It was a major confidence booster for Luthi, as a mature student returning to complete his post-secondary education, and one he sorely needed at the time. As a mature learner, he credits the supportive learning environment for helping him get past not only his trepidation at tackling some notoriously difficult courses, like mathematics and physics – but also for helping him regain the confidence he’d lost after a particularly difficult time in his life. After a car accident in 2007 left him depressed and unable to walk for a year, Luthi decided to take several ABE courses. “I went back primarily just to start retraining my brain, to come out of isolation and start socializing again,” said Luthi, who didn’t know he’d be lighting a fire within himself to pursue a degree in the sciences. Charlene Stewart, another one of Luthi’s former ABE instructors in a chemistry course, uses many different approaches to engage her students in deep learning – but it all begins with helping them develop the confidence they’ll need to tackle their studies. “Pascal is a fantastic student because he understands the need for a learning community and often takes the lead to help others with their questions,” says Stewart. The key to learning, for Luthi, was not so much a specific learning strategy (though he says those have come in handy, too) as the learning environment that rebuilt and inspired confidence in his own abilities. Managing the stress that can go hand-in-hand with learning is key to a student’s success, says Luthi, who’s recently taken on a paid position as a Peer Support Learning Leader with ABE, while juggling his own studies. “Now I’m excited about what I’m doing, life is awesome and I feel good about myself; I’ve got more confidence now.” 2 0 1 5 FA L L / W I N T E R
Strategies like these, in a supportive community of learners, lead to the kind of deep learning that is the antithesis of surface learning and memorization, she says. “Our students are heading into an economy where employers are looking for workers who are critical thinkers and can analyze and transfer knowledge into new situations. These are all characteristics of deep learning.”
MARILYN FUNK, Professor, Resource Management Officer Training Marilyn Funk can imagine hundreds of scenarios where the information she provides to students in her Resource Management Officer Technology (RMOT) courses will be critical when they’re out working in their field. Sometimes as the only person working in enforcement within hundreds of square kilometres, resource management officers encounter hunters hunting out of bounds or out of season, campers defying campfire bans or damaging sites, hikers interacting inappropriately or dangerously with wildlife, and visitors at historic sites doing harm to resources that officers are sworn to protect. Problem is, in her first few years’ teaching RMOT courses at VIU after a 15-plus year career in the field, Funk wasn’t seeing the retention, recall, and genuine comfort with course material she knew her students would need on the job facing high-stress and potentially conflict-ridden situations. “I just knew they weren’t connecting to a deeper understanding of the course material,” says Funk, who several 16 VIU Magazine
years ago began to shift the way she taught her degree and diploma courses, in order to discover instructional methods that would engage students in deeper learning. In recent years, you’ll find Funk and her students out in the field a lot more, applying learning in real-life scenarios, or, as it’s known in academic circles, “placebased” or community-based learning. A recent example of this approach had Funk’s class gain some real-world experience on Newcastle Island, a Provincial Park on lands co-managed by the Snuneymuxw First Nation and BC Parks. Tasked with an environmental monitoring project, the students worked collaboratively and were given autonomy in their approach to collecting data.
I try to create experiences for students where they have that kind of messiness that
goes with learning.
“I try to create experiences for students where they have that kind of messiness that goes with learning, where they do that self-struggle, saying ‘I can’t figure this out, why is this so complicated, what does this mean, what does environmental impact look like… nobody’s telling me what to do,’ ” says Funk. “These are real world things that they’re going to run into when they’re employed, so they have to build some confidence in themselves.” What Funk noticed in her students following these types of hands-on experiences in the field was a marked increase in complex thinking – the ability to take what they learned in class, apply it in a new, unfamiliar
context, and then continue the learning by imagining further scenarios where the learning might be applied. “I noticed immediate feedback on other possibilities – they had really good questions,” she says, adding that hands-on field experiences, followed by encouragement to reflect on learning, allows students to apply their own framework to the problem or question before them, rather than simply listening to a one-way lecture where the same information could be delivered. Back in the classroom, Funk continues to tweak her instructional methods and introduce new exercises and approaches that encourage deep learning. She’s introducing team-based learning this fall, where students will be assigned to groups based upon their strengths. Working collaboratively in small groups through an entire semester has a real-world application, she says, as students will find themselves working in teams to accomplish objectives and solve problems once they’ve established careers. “The team is where the rich discussion takes place,” says Funk. “It’s taking the professor/lecturer out of the space and redistributing the power and autonomy to the students. I’m there as the expert to help them solve problems.”
LEARN MORE! Find out more about how students at VIU are learning and faculty are teaching differently on VIU's Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning website viu.ca/ciel.
Mentors are everything to award-winning Nanaimo entrepreneur by Shari Bishop Bowes
REVOR STYAN (WELDING ’04) ISN’T THE KIND OF BOSS WHO SHOWS UP ON HIS COMPANY’S REMOTE, NORTHERN BC WORK SITE WEARING A white hard hat and shiny steel-toed boots fresh out of the box. He’s not there for a quick check-in, with handshakes and a pep-talk for the work crew tasked with completing a complex infrastructure build for the province’s energy sector. It’s just not his style. Instead, the 29-year-old Nanaimo entrepreneur and coowner of Nanaimo-based Northern Civil Energy (NCE) will arrive on site for a full week of work with the crew, labouring as one of the team to install culverts, build foundations, run equipment, and do whatever the site foreman needs doing to get the job done on time, on budget and to the highest quality in the industry. “You can really see how the job’s truly being run, and that for me is something I’m a big believer in,” says Styan, who was named one of BC Business magazine’s Top 30 Under 30 for 2015 and won the 2015 Emerging Entrepreneur award in the
EY (Ernst & Young) Entrepreneur of the Year program in the Pacific region. While he’s realistic that being hands-on and up close is likely to get more difficult with his company’s growth and diversification, Styan is quick to point out he’s learned the business from people who have deep experience in growing something from scratch and getting their hands dirty. Motivation to pursue a trade and gain experience in construction came early for Styan, who credits family and friends who have encouraged him from the time he was a mechanically inclined youngster to a 25-year-old embarking on a joint venture that would lead to incorporating NCE in January 2012. When he wasn’t learning the business from his uncle, owner of Nanaimo’s Graf Excavating, or gaining entrepreneurial insight from his dad in Quesnel and his stepdad in Nanaimo, Styan was pursuing an educational path that would ensure he had lots of options. As a Grade 12 student at Wellington Secondary School, he 2 0 1 5 FA L L / W I N T E R
Northern Civil Energy co-owner Trevor Styan is grateful for mentors and role models who have helped him build a thriving, Nanaimo-based business.
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was one of the first to embark on VIU’s “dual credit” program. He spent half his days learning welding at VIU, and the remainder in his high school classroom completing the calculus and physics he needed to graduate. “I was fortunate having that opportunity in high school,” he says. “I think it gives a person a lot of strength when it comes to other challenges. My welding instructor, Sugi Tabata (now retired), was the type of guy you didn’t want to let down. It was really important to him that I made it through.” After completing a diploma in mechanical manufacturing from BCIT,
Styan went to work again with his uncle at Graf Excavating, where they entered into a joint venture in 2010 with Nanaimo brothers and business partners, Frank (Business Management) and Mike Crucil and their construction company, FMI. To some it may seem like an ambitious move for a young 20-something to make. But there’s a certain amount of stubbornness that comes into play in the success of this determined young entrepreneur. “I think I have a lot of confidence, but maybe it’s more a bullheaded unwillingness to quit or lose,” he says. The decision to build a full service
gaining new skills and taking on new responsibilities to move the company forward. “With a good team in place, it means I’m more of a mediator and an information gatherer,” he says. NCE operates with a small core staff in Nanaimo, with between 80 and 150 people employed on projects located from BC to Manitoba. While work levels have varied seasonally and with the economy, Styan says about 60 of his crew are Nanaimo residents and travel to job sites.
I’ve realized in the last couple years that it’s okay to be who you are. You don’t need to necessarily fit into the standard mold of what a leader looks like. It’s pretty important to be
civil engineering and construction business focused on the utility and power generating sector has paid off for the Crucil brothers and Styan, with 40 projects completed to date and approximately $40 million in gross revenues. Working with clients like BC Hydro, Yukon Energy Corporation and ATCO Electric comes with high expectations, mountains of documentation and weeks of planning before the dirt gets moved. Key to NCE’s success, Styan says, has been finding the right people for his team, getting everyone pulling in the same direction, and empowering them to do the jobs they’re trained for while
With a rapidly growing company, Styan finds himself thinking about the role he’s assumed as a leader and the responsibility the role carries as he contemplates the next big project and the years that lie ahead. When problems and serious challenges arise, he remembers some words of wisdom from his business partner Frank Crucil, who told Styan that at times like these he should ask himself, “Am I dying? Nope? So then everything’s good.” While he’s aware his actions and words, and the work ethic he models can influence at every level in his company, at the same time he knows he has to be true to himself.
“I’ve realized in the last couple years that it’s okay to be who you are. You don’t need to necessarily fit into the standard mold of what a leader looks like,” he says. “It’s pretty important to be authentic.” Just as his mentors expected a great deal from him at a young age, Styan looks to his team when there’s talk about NCE and its potential for growth. “It’s going to depend on what our people want to do, and how much they’re able to learn and step up, because I’m only one man and I can only do so much.” With more business and hands-on experience behind him than many people twice his age, Styan is grateful for the mentorship and support of his family and friends – including fellow VIU grad Alissa Crucil (BBA ’12), the daughter of one of his business partners and now his fiancé. Every now and again as he works with employees who are bringing great ideas and innovation to the business, Styan finds he’s now a mentor himself. He recalls one new employee who joined the firm with solid training in project management, but no background in the construction industry. With patience, time and experience, he says, the employee soon became a valuable asset to his team with her critical thinking and attention to detail. Before long, she was pointing out errors that had been missed in plans and suggesting solutions to all kinds of issues. “That’s one reward when I built Northern Civil that I didn’t expect would be such a feeling of success – seeing how some people have learned so much in the environment we’ve created,” he says. “It’s just the best reward a guy could have.”
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Graduates touched by new ceremony by Janina Stajic
NCE A UPON A TIME ANCIENT TREES STOOD TALL AND PROUD IN THE OLD GROWTH FORESTS of Vancouver Island. They listened to the whispers and felt the shifts in the world, bore witness to the upheavals, the joys, the tragedies. They soaked in the stories of hundreds (perhaps thousands) of years until – crash – they fell, tumbled by disease, old age or perhaps a forester’s axe. There they lay for decades, even centuries, until they were discovered by an artist who, fueled by his creative spirit, his legacy and his heritage, gave them a new life, transforming them into breathtaking works of art that are now poised to inspire generations of people with their beauty and their new story – the story of how the power of education can have a profound impact on people’s lives. That is the history of the old growth cedar that world-renowned artist Arthur Vickers used to create VIU’s new Ceremonial Convocation Suite. With generous support from Coast Capital Savings, Vickers spent thousands of hours dreaming his plans and creating the suite using the grey ghost cedar from the forest floor. The suite is made up of three distinct pieces: • The Keeper of Wisdom & Knowledge, the Chancellor’s Chair •T he Keeper of Knowledge, the President & Vice-Chancellor’s Chair • The Huupukwanum, the Ceremonial Parchment Bentcorner Box Each of the suite’s 22 original images was inspired by time Vickers spent at VIU, sitting in different classrooms, in the gardens, in the library – all over the campus – soaking in the atmosphere and the energy around him. The images,
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etched in 24 karat gold leaf, shimmer and play against the natural cedar fibres of the ancient wood, forever encapsulating the University community of students and faculty, the natural and spirit worlds, as well as VIU’s architecture. Today, the suite is an integral part of VIU’s convocation ceremonies. As the students proceed on to stage they pass by the two chairs, pausing for a few moments to view the artwork and images. When the moment comes for them to receive their degrees, they walk back across the stage in front of the chairs and towards the Huupukwanum. There they are granted their degree parchments and asked to touch the lid of the bentcorner box – a symbolic gesture in that they have left behind a piece of their DNA, connecting their story with all those who have come before and all those who will come after. It’s a profound reminder that they are forever part of the VIU family. The Ceremonial Convocation Suite was first unveiled in VIU’s June 2015 convocation ceremony. We spoke to two students to find out what it meant to them to have this work of art woven in to the traditions of their graduation ceremony. Gina Mowatt, Graduate of Bachelor of Arts in First Nations Studies Seeing the Ceremonial Suite made me feel proud as an Aboriginal student – to have us represented in such a central way during the ceremony. I think it’s pretty meaningful
VIU Chancellor Louise Mandell (l) and President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Ralph Nilson (top photo) are the first to preside over graduation ceremonies with the new Ceremonial Convocation Suite. A student touches the corner of the bentcorner box to become a new graduate.
that VIU is indigenizing by having these pieces as part of convocation. The University is making an effort to bring in sacred pieces like this art and it’s so important. Indigenous art is more than just a piece of carved wood. Our artists bring our ancestors through them to help them create their work and so the pieces of art are alive. They also represent relationships and they are a part of commemorating events that happen. Having the suite at the ceremony made an impact on me – I really felt that I became a part of that
relationship with our ancestors and also with my fellow graduates when I touched the wood of the bentcorner box. It made the ceremony a lot more comfortable for me and I was so much happier to be there. Basically, it brought in an Indigenous aspect to the whole ceremony. George Anderson, Graduate of Bachelor of Arts, Major in Criminology I feel this suite tells the beautiful story about our continued journey as part of the VIU community. What do I mean by that? VIU is an institution that promotes the importance of acknowledging the members of our community and using its special status as a university to repair harms and attempt to bring about dialogue on
issues within our community. As well, at VIU the professors and faculty know the students; they know our names. This creates the ability for students to develop intellectual and academic relationships, which challenge our minds to look outside our own bias and perceptions of how the world works – something that might be more difficult at larger institutions. This new tradition within convocation symbolizes the commitment this institution has to its students and the connection we as students will forever have with Vancouver Island University, the community and the world around us. It’s a wonderful representation of how this University empowers its students and will continue to do so even after they have graduated. For more information on the Ceremonial Convocation Suite go to: viu.ca/ceremonial-suite.
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Underwater Harvesters Association Grey Whale Exhibit inspires generations by Marilyn Assaf
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HARON COOPER WAS OUT FOR AN EVENING WALK FIVE YEARS AGO WHEN SHE first saw the body of a huge grey whale washed up at East Sooke Park near Victoria. “I was so sad,” said Cooper, a member of Scia’new First Nation. “People carved their initials into the whale’s body and huge chunks of blubber were removed. I knew that I had to save this whale and leave a legacy for future generations.” Cooper’s vision became a reality on June 23 when she joined more than 160 people – donors and volunteers – who gathered at VIU’s Deep Bay Marine Field Station for the grand unveiling of the Underwater Harvesters Association Grey Whale Exhibit. “It was meant to be,” said Cooper on unveiling day, wiping tears from her eyes. “When I saw the whale on the beach, I went home and said to my husband, ‘I want that whale’. It’s something I was supposed to do.” The path to the moment of the unveiling involved an incredible communal effort. Cooper rallied support from her husband and a friend, as well as the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and VIU. The next day, the whale’s body was towed from the beach to Scia’new First Nation land where it was respectfully buried. In 2014, after four years of decomposition, the
whale’s bones were exhumed and transported to VIU’s Field Station. Field Station Manager Brian Kingzett and VIU’s Advancement & Alumni Relations Office launched a unique “Raise the Whale” online fundraising campaign and sold more than 160 bones to raise the $70,000 to cover the costs of creating a permanent exhibit.
When I saw the whale on the beach, I went home and said to my husband, ‘I want that whale’. It’s something I was supposed
Led by the Underwater Harvesters Association and its members, the whale articulation project involved a team of 100-plus volunteers, including VIU students
and community members. They were involved in the detailed process of cleaning and preparing the bones for the final exhibit. More than 2,000 volunteer hours went in to preparing the whale bones and working on the articulation process. Lead volunteer Ken Magnus, a retired radiologist who lives in Qualicum Beach, contributed more than 200 hours alone, researching and identifying bones, bleaching them and figuring out a way to put some of them back together. Thanks to the commitment of community donors and volunteers, as well as VIU’s employees, Sharon Cooper’s vision is now a spectacular reality. The 10-metre long whale skeleton is an impressive centrepiece on the main floor of the Field Station, hanging above the stairwell as though it breeched straight out of the ocean. And Cooper has accomplished what she set out to do – creating a legacy for future generations so they can come and learn a little bit more about the fascinating life of our ocean’s creatures. For more information visit viu.ca/deepbay. Lead Donors: • Underwater Harvesters Association • Jamie’s Whaling Station and Adventure Centres of Tofino/Ucluelet
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Living by Janina Stajic
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O ME THIS IS HEAVEN – THIS IS THE PLACE TO BE. These simple sentiments, shared by a local farmer living in the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region (MABR), represent the feelings of many of the 45,000 people who call this unique area home. Stretching across 1,186 square kilometres, the MABR, just north of Nanaimo, is a spectacular region encompassing the largest variety of ecosystems on Vancouver Island. From soaring mountains to deep sea valleys, from winding rivers to white sand beaches, the MABR is home to a diverse variety of species – bird, animal, plant, marine – and, of course, us.
Biosphere reserves are challenged with finding ways to create a profound and positive connection between themselves and the natural environment, supporting and sustaining all the different ecosystems and species that call this place home. The twist? This isn’t just about conserving the environment. It’s about finding ways to preserve the balance so that every species – whether human, bird, reptile or mammal – can live in a healthy, sustainable way. That could mean everything from taking responsibility to protect local habitats to working hard to create locally based economic opportunities. Enter the Mount Arrowsmith
environments; the thriving economy – and recognize immediately “that is a place where people live better’. Fortunately, the MABR is unique even among biosphere reserves because it’s attached to a university, which means there are already numerous faculty, students and staff getting involved in research projects to support MABBRI’s aspirational goals.
Science on High – Snow Pillow Weather Monitoring Station No, the snow pillow isn’t a part of the décor in a new ice-hotel – it’s the newest weather station that’s been
Better The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognized there was something special about the MABR, and in 2000 designated it a UNESCO biosphere reserve – a “unique and significant environmental region where residents sustainably engage with the land”. With this important designation comes a great responsibility. UNESCO biosphere reserves are expected to serve their region and the world as sites of excellence, demonstrating creative ways to resolve human and environmental conflicts through local community efforts and sound science. In short, UNESCO expects those who live in biosphere regions to figure out ways to “live better.’
Biosphere Region Research Institute (MABRRI), the newest research institute at VIU (they celebrated their one year anniversary in August). Their purpose is to work collaboratively with VIU students, staff, faculty, community partners, First Nations, businesses, non-profits, landowners and individual citizens to explore the varied ways all the different species in the MABR – including humans – can live together in a sustainable, mutually beneficial way. The goal of those spearheading MABRRI is simple but ambitious – that one day people from around the world will look at the MABR – the high quality of life that residents enjoy; the large variety of robust ecosystems; the numerous species; the healthy
installed in the MABR with the purpose of monitoring the snow pack on Mount Arrowsmith – something that’s never been done before. It’s been made possible through MABRRI’s collaborative approach which allowed researchers to engage with all the participants – government, business and local landowners – that were needed to make this project happen. Nestled into the heart of the mountain at 1,500 metres, the snow pillow is part of the most sophisticated weather station on Vancouver Island. It uses an array of sensors to expand on the data that is collected by most weather stations, which typically includes information such as snow depth and precipitation. 2 0 1 5 FA L L / W I N T E R
This weather station will measure that information but also provide data on net radiation, wind speed and direction, humidity, soil moisture and soil temperature. That means the information the weather station collects will shine a new light on an element that impacts every single ecosystem and species in the MABR – water levels. This data will be used by a variety of people including flood and avalanche forecasters, wildfire managers, water managers and research scientists. “The data from the snow pillow will allow us to predict in a much more exact way what is happening at that elevation,” says Graham Sakaki, MABBRI’s Research Coordinator and a Master of Community Planning student at VIU. “And it can be used in a variety of ways. For example, it will help municipalities predict how much drinking water there is going to be and help them plan accordingly. It will also allow us to predict more accurately how much water is going to be coming into the reservoir at the top of the dam – and how much can be released in the drier summer months to help support life in the river.”
Educating the Community – MABR 101 For those unclear about exactly what a UNESCO biosphere reserve is, the team at MABRRI has put together an interactive workshop to help answer their questions. MABR 101 was developed by students, staff and faculty at VIU as an interactive community course focused on helping community members understand what the MABR is all about (and hopefully instilling in them the same feeling as the local farmer – that it really is a little piece of heaven on earth.)
“It’s been challenging for biosphere reserves around the world to clearly communicate our purpose and potential,” says Monica Shore, MABR’s Communications Coordinator. “We worked hard on the curriculum for this course to try to explain what the MABR is in a way that’s accessible, fun and engaging.”
If we wrote a list of all the amazing activities people are taking part in on any given day in the MABR it would include at least 25 to 30 different types of
The team wants to get people from all backgrounds exploring and talking about what it means to be a part of a biosphere reserve. The course curriculum can be tailored to suit all ages and interest levels. There are colouring books for children, in-depth research papers for seasoned scientists and everything in between. The team’s ultimate goal is to inspire community members to take on the role of citizen scientists and get engaged in exploring the question of how they can work together to support the UNESCO mandate.
Exploring Culture through Digital Storytelling What does it mean to be connected to the land, to truly nurture a nature/ human connection – a key part of the UNESCO mandate? An enthusiastic
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group of VIU students were engaged to explore that very question as it relates to those who live, work or play in the MABR. The students embarked on a digital storytelling project, recording the stories of a diverse range of people who live or work within the biosphere region. They discovered something interesting – that although each person was deeply connected to the biosphere and the land within it, everyone connected to that land differently, experiencing or interacting with it through a variety of activities such as farming, diving, mountain-biking, birdwatching or running a small business. “If we wrote a list of all the amazing activities people are taking part in on any given day in the MABR it would include at least 25 to 30 different types of activities,” explains Doug Wortley, one of the student researchers and the project’s chief video editor. It was also clear that participants felt something else – a special responsibility
to balance out the need for human development and a viable economy with the need to protect and conserve what all felt was their greatest asset – the natural environment. “These stories are critical to promoting understanding between all the different people who live within the biosphere,” explains Jennifer Perry, another student researcher. “The stories demonstrate that it doesn’t matter what your connection to the biosphere is; what matters is that a diverse range of people who use the land in different ways all share this deep connection and can come together to ensure the reasons for that connection are sustained well into the future.” The stories also allow the students to document the history of the MABR and identify areas where research is needed. This includes what types of projects citizen scientists could engage in to lead to a deeper understanding of what it means to live better within the MABR.
VIU alumna and MABRRI researcher Sarah Lumley enjoys the view from the Garry Oak Ecosystem at Notch Hill in the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region.
A collaborative effort – the partners of the MABR The MABR itself (outside of the research institute) is currently co-managed by a regional roundtable including VIU, the City of Parksville, the Town of Qualicum Beach, First Nations, regional and provincial government representatives, private industry and other major landholders and stakeholder groups.
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knock knock... Who’s there? Even if you don’t find VIU faculty and staff in their offices across campus, you’ll see evidence of their humour, passions and personalities on their doors and office walls. Here’s just a small selection of what we found on a recent tour of the Nanaimo campus.
credit: Luis Carlos Cifuentes Martinez
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21 89 3 8 6 1 0 2 9 75 4 0 5 6 3 3 7 1
Mobile Contaminant Tracker
Illustration by Gregory Vandergrift, VIU Math and Chemistry student
On the move with real-time environmental monitoring
TRAIN CARRYING TOXIC CHEMICALS DERAILS, SPILLING ITS CARGO AND potentially polluting the air and nearby water bodies. Emergency response crews are mobilized to mitigate a potential environmental disaster. Before cleanup can occur, they need to know exactly what they are dealing with – what type of chemicals have spilled, what areas have been impacted, and most importantly, how they can clean up the mess and ensure the area is safe. If this type of incident were to happen today, the process to identify and measure pollutants could take two weeks, as air and water samples often need to be collected in bottles and transported to labs for analysis. 30 VIU Magazine
If a team of researchers in VIU’s Applied Environmental Research Lab (AERL) has its way, however, that two weeks will one day be cut down to mere minutes, possibly seconds. Led by Chemistry professors Dr. Chris Gill and Dr. Erik Krogh, AERL researchers, including both undergraduate and graduate students, are developing innovative methods to measure pollutants in air and water on site instead of in a lab. They are also developing ways to report on the information they’ve collected in real time – in other words, immediately. The only project of its kind in Canada, the team was recognized for its forward-thinking research with a $1 million grant from the Canada
Foundation for Innovation and the BC Knowledge Development Fund. At the centre of their research is a device called a “mass spectrometer”. “This is a device researchers use to identify contaminants and determine their concentration levels in the environment,” says Dr. Gill. “It can also provide clues that determine where contaminants are coming from.” Where VIU’s researchers are going a step further is using the mass spectrometer to take measurements continuously rather than measuring one sample at a time. The cutting edge piece? AERL researchers are making the modified mass spectrometer portable and taking it out of the lab and into the field.
In order to take continuous measurements, the AERL research team created a specially designed membrane to place in between the air or water samples and the instrument. Without the membrane they could only do one sample at a time. They are now focusing on making the mobile lab a reality. The first step is outfitting a research vehicle with the complex instruments they’ve developed in order to do the continuous measurements “on the fly”. Their plan is to have this up and running by the end of 2016 so they can begin reporting from the field. Most of the faculty, graduates and undergraduates working on the project come from a chemistry background. The scope of the project has meant that Drs. Gill and Krogh needed to pull in scientists from other disciplines. Darien Yeung, a talented VIU Computing Science student is now working with the team supporting the complex analytics process.
“Because we’re monitoring contaminants in the environment continuously we are generating huge amounts of data which can’t be dealt with manually,” explains Dr. Krogh. “As a computer scientist, Yeung is able to do the in-depth analytics that are required so we can produce useful information out of our massive data sets.”
This work has the potential to revolutionize the way in which we study the fate and distribution of environmental pollutants in the environment.
Yeung is also researching ways for the mobile lab to gather more information and answer questions about a contaminant once it’s been detected. He is using local weather information such as wind speed and direction and incorporating it into the other data that is being collected by the mass spectrometer. With this innovation, when the mobile lab passes through a plume of pollutants for example, researchers can not only measure what it is and how much there is, they can also measure more accurately where it is, where it’s coming from and, more importantly, what impact it may have. This type of information will provide timely information to make better VIU Computing Science student Darien Yeung
decisions, minimize the environmental consequences and mitigate human exposure. “The final goal will be to take that data and layer it on to Google Earth maps,” says Dr. Gill. “That way anyone, anywhere in the world can get immediate and comprehensive information about the nature of the environmental pollutants.” Eventually, Dr. Krogh says, the mobile research lab will be able to provide early warnings of major impacts associated with oil and gas production, storage or transport, or be used in the event of a chemical spill. “This work has the potential to revolutionize the way in which we study the fate and distribution of environmental pollutants in the environment,” says Dr. Krogh. And that revolution could be felt across Canada (and potentially further afield) as researchers will be able to use the data that is collected and analyzed to inform policies and practices that will help protect the environment and the health of all Canadians.
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JAMIE BRODER (L) AND KRISTINA VALJAS
Alumni News 1990s
Terence Fitzgerald (Diploma in Applied Arts – Graphics ’91; Diploma in Fine Arts – Visual Art ’92) is the newest member of VIU’s Board of Governors. An active alum who sits on the VIU Alumni Association Board, Terence also acts as a mentor in VIU’s Graphic Design program. He’s worn many hats during his career and is currently working on a children’s book series entitled BeBe and Miko, in between flying all over the world for his consulting business. He lives in the Cowichan Valley with his wife. Sarah Frejd (Certificate in Cook Training ’99) runs Curvalicious Boutique in Victoria, which caters to plus-size
women. In her spare time, she works as a full-time rep for Island West Produce, which supplies restaurants in Victoria, Sidney and Salt Spring Island. curvaliciousboutique.com
Nav Parhar (University Program Transfer ’99) was born and raised in Nanaimo and currently runs Infinity Law in Victoria. The firm recently opened a downtown Nanaimo office. infinity-law.com
’00) switched directions and is now the owner and travel curator at Nanaimo-based Vancouver Island Expeditions which offers small group tours on Vancouver Island. vancouverislandexpeditions.com Jamie Broder (Bachelor of Business Administration) is a star Canadian beach volleyball athlete. She started playing beach volleyball when she was 15 years old and recently won the first medal for Canada in the history of the women’s Federation Internationale de Volleyball. Jamie and her partner Kristina Valjas are currently ranked fifth in the world and are working towards representing Canada at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
2000s After 11 years in the world of public accounting at MNP, Leif Bogwald (Bachelor of Arts ’02 Major in Business Accounting; Associate of Commerce
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Erin Brook (Bachelor of Arts ’04) recently opened her own law firm, Brook Law in Nanaimo. It offers a variety of legal services including family law, general litigation, employment law, wills/estates and independent legal advice on agreements. brooklawnanaimo.com 34 VIU Magazine
Kankan Liu (ABE ’12) is a manager at TAO’s Museum of Handcraft Paper, a new museum dedicated to the historic Chinese art of papermaking. The Museum is located close to Xinzhuang village at the foot of Gaoligong Mountain, in the province of Yunnan, China. It provides exhibition space for ancient paper craft and artefacts produced locally. Pictured above, Kankan (middle row, red gown) meets with a group of students from the nearby primary school. Bobbie Buckle (Bachelor of Business Administration ’07), owner of Elite Gaming Entertainment, has also enjoyed working as a Director of LOVEWINX, the fastest growing romance company in North America. Bobbie was awarded the Top 10 in Sales for the year from LOVEWINX in North America. Samantha Letourneau (Bachelor of Arts ’07 Major in Global Studies) won the Marie Gillen Award in 2015. The award was given by St. Francis Xavier University where Samantha graduated with a Master of Adult Education in 2015. Her research project for her master’s examined the transformative possibilities that a safe learning environment can create for women impacted by abuse. Her research addressed inequalities through
community dialogues and used the arts as an innovative tool for engagement. Jennifer Kennedy (Bachelor of Arts ’02 Major in Business; Associate of Commerce ’99) recently accepted a position as the new Financial Controller for the United Way Central and Northern Vancouver Island. Daniel Martinez (Master of Business Administration ’09) is the Development Director of the Nanaimo Foundation, Board Member of Innovation Island, a Wealth Manager with Integral Wealth Securities and the current President of the Young Professionals of Nanaimo.
Would you donate stem cells to help save a stranger? That is exactly what Mike Hogman (Bachelor of Tourism Management ’09 Major in Recreation; Certificate in Event Management ’07; Diploma in Tourism Studies ’06) did in 2009. He came across a Facebook link to the Canadian Blood Service’s (CBS) OneMatch stem cell network and filled out an information form. Shortly after he received a kit in the mail to provide a swab sample of his mouth and sent it away. To his surprise he was contacted by CBS and told he was a close match. After a screening process, Mike travelled to Vancouver to provide stem cells from his blood that helped save the life of a 44-year-old husband and father of three who suffered from leukemia.
ANDREW FRASER, DANIELLE SWEENEY, JESSE MCNEILL AND MIKE CLEMENT Formed in 2013, Lovecoast is a west coast inspired Indie R&B/soul pop band. The four members all attended VIU at the same time, but graduated in different years. Danielle Sweeney (Diploma in Jazz Studies ’12) is the lead vocalist, Andrew Fraser (Diploma in Jazz Studies ’11) plays bass, Jesse McNeill (Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies ’15) is the drummer, and Mike Clement (Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies ’14) is the guitarist. lovecoastmusic.com Ines Alvarado (Certificate in Automotive Service Technician ’15; Certificate in Business Management ’15; and Essential Skills for the Workplace – Auto ’15; Certificate in Management Skills for Supervisors ‘14) was awarded the Lt. Governor’s Silver Medal at VIU’s June convocation ceremonies. Ines has a vision of one day owning her own automotive shop, where she can employ the skills she’s developed in VIU’s Automotive Service Technician and Management programs.
Breanne Quist (Master of Education in Educational Leadership ’14; Online Learning & Teaching Graduate Diploma ’14; Diploma in Physical Education ’14; Bachelor of Education ’11) was nominated for the Ernest C. Manning Innovation Award for her work in putting together a website called The Private Company, which helps schools, teachers and parents in BC navigate privacy issues when using social media and learning management systems. She currently works at Anchor Academy as a high school teacher and privacy officer. Breanne lives in Nanaimo with her husband and two daughters.
Shaleeta Harper (Bachelor of Arts ’15 Major in Creative Writing) is the founder of text magazine (textlitmag. com) a free, bi-monthly in-print and online literary magazine that focuses on concise and eclectic poetry. The intent when creating text was to share poetry in all of its forms. This includes lyrics, brief narratives, social media epigrams, text, artwork and photographs. text welcomes submissions year-round.
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company, Rewild Homes. They provide portable, affordable and sustainable “tiny homes”. rewildhomes.com
Kaitlyn Matthews (Bachelor of Education ’14) works in the small First Nations community of Ahousaht on Vancouver Island’s west coast, where
Jordanna Southall (Bachelor of Social Work ’15) was among VIU’s first students to benefit from the Youth in Care Tuition Waiver program. She graduated in June and has now joined BC’s Ministry of Children and Family Development as a Child Protection Officer in Campbell River, BC.
Zainab Alzuri (Master of Business Administration ’15) is the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital’s Emergency Room Hostess. If you are visiting patients at NRGH, there is a good chance you will meet Zainab. She can be found greeting and talking with patients, family members and visitors while they are waiting in the department. She also assists visitors in navigating the hospital – helping them to find where their loved ones are and making enquiries on their behalf to nurses and physicians regarding patient conditions.
Jennifer Vroom (Bachelor of Science in Nursing ’15; Certificate in Home Support/Resident Care Attendant ’07) has been an outdoor adventure enthusiast and guide for many years and is the founder and owner of Van Isle Paddleboard Company. Her company offers tours and lessons in stand up paddle boarding. vanislepaddleboardco.com Patrick Whelan (Resource Management Officer Technology) and partner Jessica Reid (Bachelor of Arts ’15 Major in Graphic Design) started their own 36 VIU Magazine
she has completed her first year teaching in a Grade 1 and 2 split class at Maaqtusiis Elementary. This fall she returned to teach Grade 4 in the remote community. Erin Heeney (Master of Arts in Sustainable Leisure Management ’13) was the first graduate of VIU’s MA in Sustainable Leisure Management program and also became its first published student. Her article, “Connection and understanding: the basis of a positive mutual gaze between residents of a small island developing state and a community of multinational ocean cruisers,” has been published online and in print in the World Leisure Journal through Taylor & Francis. Erin continues to find connections through travelling, and has recently returned to Nanaimo from adventures in Australia and South East Asia.
Bikini Empire is owned and operated by twin sisters Monica (Bachelor of Arts ’12 Major in Graphic Design; Diploma in Tourism Studies ’08) and Kelsey Rush (Bachelor of Arts ’12 Major in Global Studies). Their love for the water and surfing influenced their decision to start their own company, a made-in-Canada bikini line. bikiniempire.ca
Amy Pye (Bachelor of Arts ’10 Major in Graphic Design; Diploma in Information Technology and Systems '05; Diploma in Applied Arts – Graphics '04) is a VIU Alumni Ambassador and the owner of Pye Design. She has received several international awards for her work and has a wide variety of clients, including start-ups, mom-and-pop shops and national franchises. Amy recently opened a new office location in Nanaimo. pyedesign.ca
Adam Baker (Bachelor of Arts ‘14) is an interdisciplinary Master of Arts student at Simon Fraser University in Experimental Psychology and Political Science. He’s currently working in the Laboratory for Affective and Developmental Neuroscience and has devoted his master’s thesis to studying new methods for understanding why we stereotype and discriminate. Using a variety of approaches from neuroscience to examine this question, Adam’s research has explored gender stereotypes and will investigate political stereotyping. His goal is to raise peoples’ consciousness of social inequality and bias. sfu.ca/people/akb20
Three of VIU’s alumnae work for Dreamlines, an online cruise and travel portal in Europe. Nicole Martinetti (Bachelor of Tourism Management ’14 Major in Recreation; Diploma in Recreation and Sport Management ’13; Certificate in Event Management ’13) recently moved to Germany and is working in Content Management for the Australian department at Dreamlines. During Nicole’s undergrad at VIU, she was a student ambassador and upon graduation was hired as a Recruitment Officer in the Office of Enrolment Management. She will continue her connection with VIU as an Alumni Ambassador. Hannah Schecter (Bachelor of Tourism Management ’14 Major in Recreation; Certificate in Event Management ’14; Diploma in Tourism Studies ’10) studied abroad at the Cologne Business School where she found the opportunity to work at Dreamlines for the Australia office. She started as an intern in July 2014 and is now a Team Leader in Content Management. Larissa Hulsmann is originally from Germany and attended the VIU High School on the Nanaimo campus from 2009 to 2010. From there she returned to Oldenburg, Germany and apprenticed as a tourism management assistant until 2014 when she interned at Robinson Club in Hanover. She is now a Team Leader in Content Management in Germany at Dreamlines.
HANNAH, NICOLE AND LARISSA
A STUDY IN STEREOTYPING
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Q&A with Louise Mandell VIU’s Chancellor
Why did you want to take on the role of Chancellor at VIU? I knew that VIU was involved in making solutions happen to problems that I had been working to resolve all of my legal life. I liked the possibility of working with a big institution that places itself against racism and uses its stature as a place to teach and find solutions.
What’s been your favourite part of the experience so far? Meeting the students at convocation – their energy and their family’s. Each of the students has their own experiences, passions, talents, dreams, perspectives. All are uniquely qualified to offer the world something.
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What has been the most challenging?
What is a trait you most value in others?
Realizing the overall [financial] constraints the University works under and the effort made to meet the University’s goals under these constraints. Our regions are changing from a resource-based to a knowledgebased economy and VIU must provide the region with the skills – it’s the only path of survival. And yet, under-funding has us … reacting to the experience of change with anxiety as opposed to embracing it and putting our resources behind where the future paths can unfold in a good way for us.
Kindness. I don’t think there is such a thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end. Kindness is the golden thread. We humans are intricately connected, and how we treat each other matters – it means our survival and that of all other species.
If you could go back in time to meet someone, where would you go and to whom would you speak? Mother Teresa – not only for the inspiration she provided and her humility, but for some things she said that struck a chord with me such as “you can’t make change by being against, you have to be for something”.
What’s your favourite memory of being a student? A day in law school where myself and four other students decided to start the women’s legal clinic. There were more women who graduated in our class than in the entire history from 1910 to 1976. The idea of starting a women’s clinic for women – we weren’t sure what would emerge. I remember the day we all went ‘high five let’s do this.’ It was exciting and I felt like we can do anything we want.
What would a perfect day look like? I find myself with a great deal of gratitude in my life. I’ve found a place where I’m going a lot slower and find I can achieve more by doing less. I’ve also been meditating each day. It doesn’t change your life – my life remains just as fragile and as unpredictable as ever but meditation changes my heart’s capacity to just accept life as it is.
What would you like to be remembered for? The quality of love I can bring to the world and the job I’ve been given. I think of John Lennon when he said, “We all shine on like the moon, stars and sun.” I hope to inspire people to be a part of the change in their own beautiful important ways. More broadly I’d like to add my voice to the energy of reconciliation, peace and mindful living.
What legacy do you hope to leave for VIU? I’d like my breath to speak with VIU and others to make change happen in a good way: a legacy of healing and inspiration and change. The 20th century industrial culture – this narcissistic wound that we’ve been building an economy on – all of this has to change. I’m just hoping that the legacy I can make is to echo the collective in such a way that individuals will be able to grow and contribute to the collective growth.
What legacy do you think VIU will leave with you? There’s been a growth of humility on my part. We are all such beautiful unique little snowflakes in the world but we are all such tiny little cogs. With VIU I’ve been in a state of “wow” in terms of what people can do in this educational realm that’s not adversarial – working in a collaborative way with each person’s talents. For more Q&A with Chancellor Louise Mandell, see viu.ca/chancellor.
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