Category: Student Experiences

The ESS is navigating pandemic and making connections

Jordan Balfour, ESS President

When Jordan Balfour was voted in as Education Students’ Society (ESS) President for 2020/2021, he didn’t expect he would be navigating a pandemic.

“The world we are living in now, it isn’t what I signed up for from the start. There have been a lot of bumpy roads, and still are. I’m still trying to figure out how to navigate, how to communicate, how to represent the students, how to communicate with faculty and represent that to students. I wasn’t sure how to do this—it’s really been a complete adjustment.”

Balfour is a busy third-year secondary Education student, with a major in Biology and two minors, who is also working on a second degree in Indigenous Environmental Sciences. Despite the difficulties of remote studies and pandemic restrictions, Balfour with the ESS team are finding their way and making connections.

The addition of a new executive role, VP of Community Relations, is one way that the ESS is reaching out. “I thought we didn’t have enough representation in the community, so we created a new position called community relations,” says Balfour.

Paige Hamann, ESS VP of Community Relations

The position was offered to Paige Hamann, new to the ESS and in her second year of the Secondary program with a major in Social Studies and a minor in English. Hamann says, “I inquired about how to become an ESS member, had an interview to see what team I would fit best in, and then they offered me the position on the executive because of my experience with nonprofits.” Hamann had started her own photography business in Grade 10 and then last summer, following the loss of a friend who struggled with mental health, she incorporated Inside the Box, a nonprofit seeking to address the stigma around mental health within the sports culture.

Hamann says her vision for ESS community relations involves, “letting the community know that the University of Regina ESS wants to support them. We want to do as much as possible to help everybody in our community.” The Community Relations team of five has been providing opportunities for students to volunteer and creating spotlights on local organizations that support education, such as the Inspiring Young Minds book store and Ascendant Martial Arts.

The ESS is reaching out through donations as well. Balfour says, “we donated $500 to five schools for PPE funding because we could not go to the schools and volunteer our time. We also provided Street Culture and Rainbow Youth Centre a large sum of pumpkins and donated time to carve pumpkins with youth.” And they have purchased gift cards to contribute to giveaways for student draws.

Balfour says there have been many changes because the social events typically hosted by the ESS are restricted. “We just had a social event that we were worried about hosting. A month ago we rented a movie theatre, and we had to follow the COVID-19 restrictions, limiting our numbers from 20 to 15. We were worried about how it would go. We did get some backlash, but we followed our protocols. It was our last face-to-face social event.” To ensure they could keep to the restricted number who could attend, the ESS charged a $5 ticket price and had students register to attend. All proceeds from the event were donated to the Big Brothers and Big Sisters Foundation of Regina.

Without face-to-face events, the ESS has found it difficult to connect with students and build an Education student family. Balfour says, “Because we are online we don’t have the same ability to build that connection, a culture of relying on each other for support while we are undergrad students.”

Danielle Meader, ESS VP Social
Sara Tokarz, ESS VP of Communications

Instead of face-to-face socials, the Social Team, headed up by Danielle Maeder, is offering giveaways and prizes in exchange for tags, follows, and likes on the ESS social media, managed by the VP of Communications Sara Tokarz.

Balfour has realized that remote studies due to COVID-19 have given ESS executives another new role. “We benefited from a really bad situation. We had a lot of first-year students sign up. New students who joined the ESS are trying to achieve this social, cultural connection with the University that they don’t get through remote classes. Some of them have never been on campus. We are trying to help them with that community. Some of the best aspects of the Faculty are the classes we get to attend. I was looking forward to the interactions and being a part of the educational experience in the Faculty of Education. We are here to provide…almost a peer mentorship. We’re like big brothers and sisters, cause we are experienced in the program,” says Balfour.

Kiah Holness, ESS VP Professional Development

With new students in mind, the ESS’s Professional Development (PD) team, headed by Kiah Holness, offered their first virtual event, “Ed’s Declassified School Survival Guide” where more experienced students offered tips and tricks for when new students finally come to the campus, such as where to buy the best coffee, how to find parking, how to buy textbooks, and how to navigate their own involvement. Other PD events offered virtually were “Building Resilience for Stress of Teaching” presented by Dyan Roth and “Indigenous Brilliance” with Justin “Jah’ kota” Holness.

The ESS executive is also working with Dr. Pamela Osmond-Johnson, the associate dean for undergraduate programs, to develop a new pilot program to provide small grants to pre-interns and interns to support practicum-based projects. Balfour says, “They are the only ones out there facing everything going on with the pandemic. Interns and pre-interns are unable to connect with community resources and bring them into the classroom because schools are locked down. With funding, they will have the resources to assist their practicum experience. Students won’t have to pay out of pocket.”

Hanna Gross, ESS VP Finance & Secretary

To apply for funding to provide resources, to make community connections, or to assist in lesson planning, pre-interns and interns can apply to the ESS for a specific amount with a proposal for PD funding.

There are more plans for collaboration with undergraduate Student Services. Balfour says, “Pam is excited about what we are accomplishing. We will be working with Student Services to host events where they can provide feedback for students, such as town halls and other opportunities for students to learn to navigate the ‘what’s next?’ in their programs.”

The ESS is also looking into collaborations with the University of Saskatchewan Education Students’ Society to broaden and extend their reach to offer PD events to Education students across Saskatchewan.

“The ESS team is amazing this year. They are so thrown out there even during pandemic. They are doing so much with the resources they have,” says Balfour. “This year has brought more than I expected. I didn’t expect 25 team members. These young individuals are so self-driven with their leadership and where they want to take their careers and what they want to accomplish.”

Balfour continues, “The pandemic has really changed everything. The way we can support students and the University at the same time. We’ve had to figure out how to navigate through that. It has been a challenge to make sure we follow proper protocols and to make sure we are inclusive to team members and the student body. Some of the ESS executive has navigated in ways that they couldn’t even anticipate. The experience has been phenomenal.”

Finding Phyllis Webstad approved Orange Shirts at Karen Mah’s Inspiring Young Minds store in Regina was just the beginning of the ESS’s work in the community. Finding out that the store was doing a toy drive to support Gifts of Hope 2020, an initiative started by a Grade 12 student, Emily Messier, to give the gift of play to children in need during the holiday season, the ESS purchased items from the store to donate to the Toy Drive as well as purchasing gift cards to contribute to a giveaway at a Regina School.

Student donates November tips and wage to local organizations

Brayden Larson at work

An inspiring student story! Because of the uncertain and troubled times of the pandemic, 3rd year Secondary Education student Brayden Larson wanted to spread some hope and positivity, so he decided to give 20% of his Boston Pizza job wage and all of his tips for the month of November to three local organizations: The 4 Life Foundation, First Steps Wellness Centre in Regina, and Regina Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Regina General General Hospital.

Using his social media to spread the word about what he was doing, where and when he would be working, and also information about the organizations he would be donating to, Brayden was able to raise $2053.35!

Brayden says, “The amount of joy, support, and encouragement I have received throughout this entire month is something I am beyond thankful and grateful for. ⁣ Thank you to everyone that donated, tipped, or offered words of support and encouragement during this process. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. “

Le Bac student creating film series on Canadian languages

Le Bac #UREdu student Wahbi Zarry and Tony Quiñones have created a 1/2 hour film, 10 Days of Cree, which follows Zarry’s 10-day journey engaging with the larger community while working to learn the Cree language. This is the first of a planned educational webseries exploring Zarry’s experiences with Canadian indigenous languages

Interim President and Vice Chancellor Dr. Thomas Chase writes, “10 Days of Cree is a fine example of the quality work our students produce, and just as importantly, a fine example of reconciliation in action that should inspire and serve as an example for us all – particularly as we work to bring to life our new Strategic Plan, kahkiyaw kiwâhkômâkaninawak.”

Episode 2 on the Nakota language will be released in November. For updates follow Zarry’s Facebook site, Canadian Languages.

Canadian Languages is a webseries exploring indigenous languages of Canada through educational documentaries.

Click to read the University of Regina Feature Story

Educating about life with a service animal

Erin with her service dog Stella. Photo credit: Shuana Niessen

Erin Strueby (BEd/BKin ’20) has a passion for working with students with exceptional needs. But teaching wasn’t Strueby’s career goal when she first came to the University of Regina (U of R). After being recruited to the U of R Cougar’s Track and Field team, she started out as a Kinesiology student. Teaching became her goal through working in the U of R Summer Sports School (SSS) as a camp leader.

“Through SSS, I discovered that I really enjoy working with children, building relationships, and teaching new games and skills,” says Strueby. After her second year of SSS, Strueby decided to do a joint degree, beginning her Education program while also completing her Kinesiology program. Because Summer Sports School had given her an opportunity to work with children of all abilities, Strueby says she, “developed a true passion for working alongside children with exceptional needs.” She thus decided to complete a Certificate of Extended Studies in Inclusive Education. Strueby says, “Although becoming a teacher was not where I thought I would end up, I am incredibly happy with the path I ended up on and cannot wait to start my career as a teacher.”

However, Strueby has concerns about her career path as a teacher because Strueby herself is a person with an exceptional need: She requires the assistance of her service dog, Stella. Strueby’s reasons for needing Stella are not immediately apparent to others: As a student, she has demonstrated academic proficiency having just finished her seventh year at the University of Regina and she is also a dedicated athlete, as seen in her competitive cross country and long distance running with the U of R Cougars for four years.

Strueby says, “Because my disability is not visible, I often get asked, ‘Why do you need a service animal?’ I have also been asked, ‘What is wrong with you,’ ‘Are you blind or something,’ and ‘Whose service animal are you holding?’ Fortunately, these questions do not easily offend me and I am able to respond in a way that provides people with further knowledge on service animals.”

In her public life, Strueby faces challenges and obstacles because of a lack of knowledge about the use of a service animal. For example, many public places do not know the difference between a service animal and a support/therapy animal. Strueby says, “According to the Saskatchewan Code of Human Rights, support or therapy animals do not have the same rights as service animals do, and are restricted access to many public places. I have often been denied access to places because people think my service animal is a support animal. Trying to explain the difference between a service animal’s role and a support/therapy animal’s role can be rather difficult when people are not open to understanding. This is where I have encountered many issues and struggles when I am trying to live everyday life.”

While Strueby turns many difficulties into opportunities to educate, she also experiences situations which can’t be responded to. For instance, she says, “People have glared, whispered, and said ‘I guess anyone can get a service animal for anything now-a-days’ or ‘They seem to just let dogs everywhere.’”

Another challenge Strueby faces is how others respond to her service animal. She says, “I have also had people swoon over my service animal, make kissy noises or whistle at her to get her attention, and mention how cute she is. Additionally people also try to take pictures of her as if seeing a service animal is a rare phenomenon.”

Strueby compares Stella to a wheelchair: “It is not often that people make snide remarks to people who are in wheelchairs, or to comment on ‘how cute’ a wheelchair is, or to take pictures of it.” Strueby points out that societal norms about visible disabilities teach the public not to ask about how another person is managing their disability, but these norms don’t extend to invisible disabilities.

For example, because Strueby requires Stella only in certain conditions, she is often asked, “Where’s Stella?” when she leaves Stella at home. Strueby says, “Seeing that I make use of my service animal only when I feel I need it, people often think I am faking mental illness, or only had Stella certified because I wanted to be able to take her places with me. This is so far from the truth—having to take a service animal with you in order to function can be such a burden; it is not ‘fun,’ it is not ‘cool,’ and it can make everyday tasks much more difficult.”

“Stella is an incredible tool I have the privilege to use. When I am in busy environments she acts as a barrier between me and other people to ease my social anxiety. During stressful and overwhelming moments in class she will lick my hand or become restless when she recognizes I need a break from the environment I am in. When I have panic attacks or moments of distress she will lie on the floor beside me and paw at me until I am fully focused on her. At home Stella can usually be found right by my side; however if she is not with me, she is constantly checking up on me. Whether I am napping, working on homework, or even in the bathroom… it is never long until she pushes her nose through to see what I am up to,” says Strueby.

While troublesome, these experiences have taught Strueby about what she needs and when she needs it. Though she has some bad days, she says, “I now have the ability to understand exactly what I need during those moments in order to push through.”

“Moving forward, I am working on feeling less guilt and judgment around how I use my service animal,” says Strueby. The use of Stella has been a topic that has weighed on Strueby for some time. Her concerns rise as she anticipates how misunderstandings around her use of Stella might impact her employment in the education field, the work she has become passionate about.

In the fall of 2019, the final year of her Education program, Strueby, with Stella by her side, was required to complete a semester-long, in-school internship. After some initial struggles, and with the support and encouragement of the field placement staff at the U of R, Strueby was finally placed at Luther College High School in Regina under the supervision of Erin Woods and Troy Casper, where she was encouraged by a successful internship.

Strueby says, “Luther provided me such a positive internship experience. Everyone at Luther welcomed me with open arms, was continually supportive, and made my teaching experience one to remember. The Luther community accepted me for who I am and was more than open and willing to learn about my needs, and how a service animal can be used to help those with all types of medical complications. I loved every minute I spent at Luther and I am so thankful for everyone who pushed and challenged me during my teaching experience. I made many relationships with the staff and students and I am looking forward to strengthening those relationships through volunteer work (ex. coaching), and through continuing to share resources and regularly connect with my co-operating teachers and colleagues.”

Through telling her story, Strueby says, “I hope others are able to gain a better understanding about how people’s needs are never the same.”

SUNTEP Regina students engaged in project replicating Road Allowance home

Follow along the Twitter journey posted by SUNTEP Regina professor Brenna Pacholko, outlining the student project that resulted in an accurate portrayal of the interior of a Road Allowance House. The display can be viewed at the GDI Library, 2nd floor of the College West Building. They will be presenting about the project on February 27 at 7:00 pm @ the Artesian on 13th as part of  the Heritage Regina Lecture series, “gee meeyo pimawtshinawn It was a Good Life. Stories from the Road Allowance People.”

Mother and daughter from Nunavut: Students together at the U of R

Pauline Copland has come a long way since her years of working as a clerk interpreter at a health centre in her small community of Arviat, Nunavut. A love for learning and a latent desire to become a teacher induced her to quit her job to pursue a Bachelor of Education degree at Nunavut Teacher Education Program (NTEP), which was offered in partnership with the Faculty of Education, University of Regina (U of R) for over a decade.

“My teachers inspired me to become a teacher. I had been a long time employee at our local health centre, but my love for children and education was always with me; so, after I had all my children, I decided to go back to school to pursue a teaching degree,” says Copland.

In 2013, Copland applied, was accepted, and began her B.Ed. program. Going back to school was challenging at first with adjustments to academics, while also parenting her five children, the youngest of which was only 15 months old when she started the program. Copland says, “I often had mom-guilt feelings because I closed the door on my kids so many times and found a quiet place to study. After the first year, things got easier and my brain got back to student mode.”

Adjustments made, Copland thrived, graduating from the NTEP/U of R Elementary Education Program with distinction in June 2017. But she wasn’t ready to stop learning: “My love for learning grew throughout the program; the more I learned about children and their development the more I was inspired to dig deeper and gain new knowledge. I had my own sense of raising children through a mother’s lens, but it was interesting to learn more about children from an educational perspective.”

Choosing a master’s program with the University of Regina made for a smooth transition: “I decided to take my Master’s at the U of R because I took U of R courses throughout the undergrad program. U of R was partnered with the Nunavut Arctic College at that time, and I kind of knew what to expect from the courses because of my experience at NTEP,” explains Copland.

With only her internship experience to qualify her for a Master’s of Education (M.Ed.) program, Copland decided to apply anyway and was accepted to the U of R program in Curriculum and Instruction: She says, “I knew I had the determination and work ethic to pull through another program after completing the NTEP program, even without the teaching experience that was required upon application. I remember telling myself, ‘I don’t have to believe everything I read, so I’m going to take a chance at this.’”

The difficulty would not prove to be academic; the decision to take the degree in Regina meant she would be leaving behind her children for extended periods of time. She says, “The hardest part of my journey was leaving my kids. It was a different story every single semester. First semester, I had two of my kids who were 5 and 12 years old and in my second semester, I had just my youngest. In my third semester, I left home without any kids to attend the spring semester.”

Each semester, leaving home was a struggle: “It was so hard to board that airplane, but I didn’t turn back and I constantly reminded myself that I am doing this for them. The first few weeks away were brutal, but as soon as I got into a routine, time went so fast. I went home in between semesters so that breather really helped me get pumped up and prepared for another semester.”

In Copland’s second year and final semester, she had the unexpected pleasure of studying alongside her daughter. Copland says, “My daughter, Michaela, decided to come to study at the U of R because she wanted to ‘take the road less traveled.’ A number of our young high school graduates go to Ottawa or Winnipeg, but she wanted to try something different. She was accepted to the Faculty of Arts, but now she is thinking about majoring in education.”

Copland says, “We both felt so lucky to study alongside each other. I think it’s rare for a mom and daughter from Nunavut to attend the same university at the same time. The best part of it all was the support I was able to give her. We are from a small community and there was a big change in scenery so being there for her when she was trying to adjust to all the change was something I’d want to do with all my children. I want them to know that there is a whole world for them to explore out there—‘it’s a small world after all!’”

When Copland first arrived, the only person she knew was Faculty of Education Instructor Julie Machnaik, whom Copland had met through Machnaik’s work as coordinator with the NTEP partnership program for several years. Copland says, “Julie’s nice warm welcome to Regina made me feel closer to home. I live in a close-knit community, and she made the adjustment so much easier to cope with. My friend helped me in more ways than one; she took me and my kids to our new home and made sure I was settled before she left us. She was also my ‘go-to’ person as both campus and city life was new to me. I am thankful she was part of this journey.”

Living on campus gave Copland the opportunity to meet new friends who also gave her support throughout her program, and helped her deal with the hardship of being away from her children. “I met amazing people throughout the program; it was a bonus to have the support from my circle of friends,” says Copland.

Copland graduated from the master’s program in June. She says, “It was an amazing feeling to walk across the stage even for a short moment. Time went way too fast so the convocation ceremony was a great way to wrap up my thoughts around being a long time student.”

Her education has fortified her vision for education: “Every child deserves to learn in a safe and respectful environment. I think each individual should be valued in the classroom as we all learn at our own pace and time. More importantly, giving them the opportunity to learn with respect to their culture and background is something I strongly support,” says Copland.

Reflecting back on what she has accomplished, Copland says, “I close my eyes and I see and feel the campus atmosphere—I never thought, 18 years ago, that I’d get back into books and study alongside my daughter. I was a young mother so I thought I had lost all my chances of getting back into something that I liked doing and dreamed of becoming. Turns out, there is no age limit; you just have to go after your dreams and never stop believing.”

Copland has returned to Nunavut and will start her teaching career in the fall, teaching Grade 3 students. She says, “I will start in my home and comfort zone, but who knows where I’ll end up in a few years time.”

By Shuana Niessen

U of R doctoral candidate returns to China for EFL internship

Moving Towards Ethical Internationalization: Bridging Plural Knowledges in English as Foreign Language Curriculum and Instruction.

In 2014, as part of University of Regina/Chengdu University of Technology’s (CDUT) partnership, an ethical internationalization in higher education research and instructional program was conceptualized and initiated by Professor and Dean, Duan Cheng and Associate Professor, Zheng Huan (CDUT, College of Foreign Languages and Cultures), Dr. Fran Martin (University of Exeter, Graduate School of Education) and Professor Fatima Pirbhai-Illich (University of Regina, Faculty of Education).

Over the past five years, Drs. Martin and Pirbhai-Illich have engaged in academic work at CDUT that has focused specifically on learning and engaging in ethical internationalization practices in higher education in the College of Foreign Languages and Culture. Dr. Martin, Associate Professor Zheng Huan and Professor Pirbhai-Illich conducted research and in 2016, disseminated findings at a conference on Internationalising Higher Education at Simon Fraser University. They have also co-authored one journal article titled “The critical intercultural dimension of the processes of internationalization in higher education” which is under review.

Graduate Students Invited to University of Regina for Doctoral Program.

As part of the overall project, for the past three years, Dr. Pirbhai-Illich has invited one graduate student each year to apply for entry into the Faculty of Education’s doctoral program. Each doctoral student takes their required courses with faculty members and for their doctoral research project, engages in academic work with Dr. Pirbhai-Illich to understand issues around plural knowledges, curriculum and instruction in teaching English as a Foreign Language, and working towards ethical ways of doing education that honour and bridge the best of these knowledges for their particular context.

CDUT Sponsors Former Student to Return to China for EFL Internship,

Miss Feng Leyuan, doctoral candidate, University of Regina

In 2018, CDUT sponsored Dr. Pirbhai-Illich’s doctoral student, Fadi Tannouri from the English Language Institute at the University of Regina to visit, learn and teach Academic English in the Chinese context. This year, CDUT has sponsored one of its own former graduate students, Miss Feng Leyuan. Now entering her third year of the doctoral program in the Faculty of Education, University of Regina, Miss Feng Leyuan has returned for two months with Dr. Pirbhai-Illich as a preservice teacher to her alma mater to teach and engage in a 3-week English as Foreign Language internship program under the guidance of lecturers, Ms. Chen Fan, Ms. Luo Yuan, Mr. Zhou Yi and Dr. Pirbhai-Illich.

On June 19, Miss Feng Leyuan presented her first paper to faculty and graduate students at CDUT titled, “A self-study of my journey: Working towards becoming an ethical global educator of English as a Foreign Language.” Miss Feng Leyuan is the first of the three doctoral students to return to CDUT.

 

 

 

A multilingual international collaboration

The following story, submitted by former grad student and French Immersion Kindergarten teacher Ellen Lague and Minority Language Professor Heather Phipps, describes the development of a multilingual Saskatchewan-Belgium collaboration that evolved out of Ellen’s participation in the Social Justice and Globalization Study Tour to Belgium (EDFN 803) in July 2018.

“What Fills Your Heart with Happiness? kîkway kîya kisâkasineh mîyawhten kiteh ohcih?”

As part of my Master’s in Education program, I participated in the study tour to Belgium. The course was instructed by Dr. Heather Phipps, with whom I have shared interests in Early Childhood Education, French Immersion instruction, and literature. While in Belgium, we met with Heather’s colleague and long-time friend Caroline Moons, who instructs university students studying to become Kindergarten teachers at the University of Leuven in Belgium.

We discussed doing a multilingual project together with my Kindergarten students and Caroline’s university students. With Heather’s guidance, we chose an activity with Monique Gray Smith’s picture book My Heart Fills with Happiness/ni sâkaskineh miŷawâten niteh ohcih. Monique Gray Smith is an award-winning author of Cree, Lakota, and Scottish heritage. The picture book, written in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and dedicated to IRS survivors, is a positive representation of Indigenous happiness, love, strength, and life experience. Each page, vibrantly illustrated by award-winning, Métis-Cree artist, Julie Flett, expresses the happiness experienced in the simple joys of life, such as holding the hand of someone you love or smelling fresh-baked bannock. Heather suggested this book for the multilingual reading possibility, with a Cree/English edition recently published by Orca Books.

With the book chosen, my students spent most of February preparing for our project with Caroline and her students: discussing First Nation storytelling, and reading two different versions of How the Earth was Created; talking about Nanabosho or Nanabush and how he has several different names; and discussing oral storytelling and why oral stories might change in the telling, and about why February is the traditional time for storytelling because it is when the snow covers the ground. I read My Heart Fills with Happiness aloud with my students every school day in the month of February. During the break, students were asked to think about what fills their heart with happiness using specific examples. I received several responses from parents who loved the idea of our project.

On February 27, students and teachers in Regina and Belgium connected through Skype. Belgian students began by asking my students about First Nations storytelling. Next, we read the book, What Fills My Heart With Happiness in four different languages: English, French, Cree and Flemish. The children knew the story so well, they were excited to hear it read in two languages that were new to them; they “oohed” and “ahhed” when hearing Cree and Flemish. Then, all the students shared what filled their hearts with happiness. One of my students mentioned speaking with her family that lives in the Philippines. Another student spoke about the sound of popcorn popping. The children were delighted to share, and the preservice teachers in Belgium also expressed their joy in meeting with the class.

For Heather, being in Ellen’s Kindergarten classroom during this multilingual reading of My Heart Fills with Happiness was a beautiful and meaningful experience. While reading together across the world and in four languages there was a feeling of interconnectedness, where each person was invited to share one’s own inner joy and to listen respectfully to others. The story is meant to be shared and makes for an ideal read-aloud. The university students listened attentively to the voices of the children in responding to the story, and the children were eager to share their knowledge and life experience. The shared interaction with the picture book inspired the children and adults to reflect on their own sources of inspiration, love, and happiness.

This spring, we were delighted to learn that the author Monique Gray Smith, alongside authors Louise Halfe and Wendy Mirasty, would be speaking on an Indigenous Author Panel at the Regina Public Library. This was a wonderful opportunity to listen to each author’s journey to becoming a writer. Monique spoke about the importance of story and how empowering it is for Indigenous readers, particularly young children, to see themselves represented in picture books. She mentioned that she has met many young readers who tell her, ‘I’m on the cover of your book.’ Furthermore, this story of sharing love and happiness ends with a significant question, “What fills your heart with happiness?” which opens up a conversation for intergenerational sharing and healing as readers of all ages are invited to reflect on love.

A journey that began in Belgium was able to take root back home. In reconnecting with Caroline we could continue the journey of reconciliation with our students, and share the
journey with students in Belgium. Two weeks after the Skype call, Heather and I shared the project with her first-year university students. To be able to culminate our project with meeting Monique Gray Smith brought happiness to my heart and a strong purpose to continue on the path to reconciliation.

By Ellen Lague and Heather Phipps