Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a Métis woman, with Cree and settler family ancestry. I grew up in Treaty 6 Territory and have been living in Treaty 7 for the past 13 years. I have been working in the field of therapeutic recreation (TR) for 24 years. My career has taken me to New Zealand, Australia, USA and Canada. For the past 12 years before coming to ULethridge last fall, I worked for Alberta Health Services in neurorehabilitation. I knew I wanted to take on more leadership in the field of TR, so that guided me to get my Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) designation, and then on to a MSc degree (UCalgary). Now, I have the honour of teaching the next generation of recreation therapists.

How long have you been at ULethbridge and what do you do here?
I started at ULethbridge in the Fall Semester of 2023 as an Instructor in the Therapeutic Recreation program.

What's the best part of your job?
I love seeing the students engaged with the course content, have lively discussions in class and want to share their thoughts on the topics. I also love getting the students fired up about doing advocacy work for people with disabilities. I start my classes with a talking circle and love hearing the students share their reflections on the question of the day (often related to the content in that lesson).

Since it's National Volunteer Week (April 14 to 24), please share details about your volunteer efforts.
For the past year, I have had the absolute honour of being a member of the Ovarian Cancer Canada (OCC) Patient Partners in Research (PPiR) team. We are a group of 22 volunteers from across Canada who have lived experience with ovarian cancer and who advocate for change in research, diagnosis, treatment, and life expectancy outcomes for others who are diagnosed with this disease.

I have been living with a rare form of ovarian cancer for almost six years, which is longer than 50 per cent of people diagnosed with this cancer (half of the people diagnosed with ovarian cancer will not survive five years). We meet monthly with researchers from across Canada, which allows us to know what is happening in various research areas, and we also provide feedback and ask questions from a patient’s perspective during these meetings.

Many of us are also involved directly with research teams, depending on our interest areas. As a team, we are also providing consultation on a nationwide survey being conducted by OCC on the current status of ovarian cancer in Canada. In May, our team will be travelling to Halifax to meet with over 200 ovarian cancer researchers. We will be involved as panel speakers and will also have the opportunity to share our stories with the new trainees from across the country. In Alberta, there are only two of us on this team, and we are working with OCC to gain more of a presence in the province to support those who have received this diagnosis, but also to support more research and funding in this area (as it is highly under-researched). Apart from this, I also support OCC by volunteering with special events, such as “Illuminite”, a fundraiser in Calgary happening on April 18, and our annual Walk of Hope, which takes place every September.

My walk team has raised over $15,000 over the past two years for ovarian cancer research, which I am really proud of and extremely grateful for. Volunteering with this national organization is incredibly personal for me. The work that we do as the PPiR team could impact my life directly as we continue to try to find a cure and effective treatments for this disease so that more people can live full and healthy lives. WE WILL NOT REST.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
As a recreation therapist, I have many leisure interests! Outside of work though, you will find me in the mountains, camping, hiking, travelling, beading, cooking, kayaking, attending Indigenous ceremonies, hanging out with my family in Red Deer and Edmonton, attending basketball games with my partner, Andrei (Go Calgary Surge!), playing board games and volunteering for a few different community organizations.

I am very grateful to have a full and meaningful life and I try not to take it for granted.