Meet Our Instructors

Our instructors come with a wide variety of experience from different backgrounds. Have a look at some!

Active primary care medical practice for 38 years; academic appointments with University of Calgary and more recently, UBC.

Mr. Ansley has for more than 50 years been actively involved in Canada’s relationship with China. After twelve years as a professor of Chinese History and Chinese Law, and 36 years of legal practice in both Canada and China, Mr. Ansley has recently retired and now serves as a consultant on a range of China-related matters. Mr. Ansley speaks and reads Chinese. He holds both undergraduate and graduate degrees in Chinese Studies from the University of British Columbia. He also holds an L.L.B degree from the University of Windsor and an L.L.M degree in Chinese Law from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies. A former professor of Chinese History, Civilization, and Law, as well as Maritime Law, Mr. Ansley has taught at the University of Windsor, the University of British Columbia, the Law Faculty of Shanghai’s Fudan University, and the Law Faculty of Shanghai’s Jiaotong University.


  • Chinese Development
  • Chinese History
  • Chinese Language
  • Chinese Law
  • East Asian Civilisation
  • Maritime Law

Practising since 1983, Mr. Ansley has handled many criminal and civil litigation cases in Canada, and over 300 litigation cases in China.

Teaching medical students and doctors about cannabis. Prescribes cannabis to patients referred  by their doctors to GrowWise Health Clinic in Courtenay.

I am a retired postal worker and worked fulltime for a number of years as the Education Officer for the Pacific Region CUPW. I believe adult education, whether it be for seniors or union members, is important. One of my other passions is films so when the opportunity came to assist Heather on her film course at ElderCollege I jumped at it.

The knowledge of ancient India, called the Veda, has directed our sciences since the early 20th Century. An introduction to why this situation exists will be the subject matter of the lectures and discussions. Philosophy and Psychology are the two academic fields which led to many years of Vedic study. I hold an MA from Simon Fraser, the title of Jyotish Kovid (meaning a qualified teacher of the subject) and have taught for nearly 40 years.

Originator and leader of Mystic Valley Voices, a universal chanting community since 2003 in Courtenay. Previously, chant master on retreats around the US for the enlightened teacher,Gangaji . Several trips to India singing in temples and Holy sites. Many years of experience singing in choirs starting in high school and university. Voice training with Terence Kelly, music director at Imani Baptist church in Oakland, California (mixture of gospel and classical operatic). Locally, singing with Just in Time choir, and lead roles with Coval Choristers.

I have been giving presentations and leading workshops since 2001. List includes: teaching hands-on vegetable gardening to approximately 2000 students at six local elementary schools; presentations to numerous garden clubs on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland, as well as Seedy Saturday events; various subject-related workshops to clubs and organizations. Past President of the CV Horticultural Society, member of CV Growers and Seed Savers and the Campbell River Garden Club. I write a regular gardening column in the CV Record as the Duchess of Dirt (since 2004).

I'm a west coast kid - first born of the boomer generation in Vancouver, where I went through all schooling including seven years at UBC. I started in architecture but decided I had much more interest in teaching, so switched over to education, I finished in 1971 and began teaching, along with my wife now of 48 years, in the Comox Valley. I had the blessing to teach high school art for my 38 years in the high school classroom and Civilizations for some dozen of those years.

My first half-dozen years were at G.P. Vanier, followed by being part of the staff to open Highland in Comox in 1978, where I was until I retired in 2004, except for three years from 1988 to '91 when the family and I had the priviledge of working for DND in Baden, Germany. We have two boys and two girls who benefitted greatly from that experience (one became a pilot in our forces as a result of that time).

I retired early and was looking for renewal. By good fortune I came upon a job teaching my subjects in a big American International school in Cairo, Egypt. My wife and I went for one year and left after five - those were wonderful years (2006 to 2011). We travelled a lot in that part of the world and had already decided to end the posting when the Arab Spring broke out and we were in the middle of it. It was not pleasant for my wife, but I was quite thrilled to be in the midst of such a situation; I was in Tahrir Sq. in Cairo the day after Mubarak resigned - what an incredible experience!

When we came home, many people were very interested to hear about those experiences and because of my interest in history I had developed a pretty good sense of the matrix of the cultures and causes that swirled through the region.

As a result, I offered the Arab Spring course in the winter of 2012 and have adapted it year by year as regional and global politics swirled around and through. I believe this topic will continue to evolve long after I am able to keep presenting it.

Karen Cummins is an ISA Certified Arborist, and a SOUL Certified Organic Land Care Professional.  She has lectured all over the area in Landscape Design.

Bachelor of Education - Industrial Education Teacher, including House Construction, for 30 years.

Jack Duckworth, previous to serving in Christian mission for over 25 years, completed a B Mus in Classical Guitar (U.Vic., 1990), followed by a M Div (Regent College, 1993) and a D Min (Carey Theological College, 2014). His mission experience included serving two congregations and two campus missions. Concurrent with the latter postings, he taught two-week undergraduate module courses in practical theology in Ukraine and Armenia, graduate courses in The Netherlands and shorter term teaching (two and three days) in Haiti. He continues to read, study, and prep courses on issues related to religion in society.

Bill's career in sales demanded a lot of “thinking on his feet”. Upon retirement, he took the opportunity to learn and also perform Improv and now he likes to share his passion with anyone who wants to experience Improv.

I am a retired music teacher having taught for 18 years in S.D. #71 as a classroom music teacher, including teaching ukulele to intermediate students. Prior to that, I taught music in Winnipeg for 15 years at the junior and senior levels.

Turning our attention inward to the deeper realms of the self is called meditation. I’ve been a dedicated practitioner of meditation since 1970, including 8 years of living in an ashram (Sanskrit term meaning monastery). For 30 years I worked as a psychotherapist in the Vancouver area. The Foundations of Contentment Program is an integration of the understandings I’ve gained through my meditation and psychotherapy practice. I moved to the Comox Valley in 2017, drawn by its outdoor wonders and to partake in the fabulous hiking, biking, swimming and snowshoeing available here. Latin dancing is also a passion of mine, and I’ve been actively involved in helping develop the Latin dance community in the CV.

Born in former Czechoslovakia, stranded in 1968 in Basel, Switzerland stayed 10 years and studied Russian culture and European History of Art. In 1978 moved to Queen Charlotte islands/Haida Gwaii with a Czech husband. We owned a seafood restaurant in Masset. Since 1997 in the Comox Valley. I taught Russian, German and Czech languages, piano, Ballroom Dancing and creative dance for children. For the ElderCollege I gave courses on "Russian History and Culture", "Byzantine Empire", "Qatar", "Travel in Iran" and "Working with Ancient Murrelets" and my last one will be about "My beloved Prague".

With over forty years of business IT experience, and dozens of years helping family, friends, and teaching adult education computer-related classes, I have a wide set of experience and expertise to take advantage of with computer-related topics. Most recently, I have worked with and personally used the Google and Microsoft cloud email solutions, cloud drive solutions, and other applications. I’d like to pass along my knowledge and experiences for those that want to come up to speed on these services.

Rick Howell is a retired educator and cycling enthusiast. He has served on the Comox Valley Cycling Coalition’s Education Committee for the past six years, designing and implementing safe cycling curriculum for School District 71. Having cycled on several continents, Rick has experienced first hand what can happen when communities promote and provide safe cycling infrastructure for its citizens. Training cyclists to know their rights and to follow the rules of the road builds confidence and a safer environment for both automobiles and bicycles.

Evelyn Keith grew up in the Edmonton area, and taught school there for a number of years. She and her husband Rod relocated to the valley in 2012, and she is active with a number of organizations.

Rod Keith was raised in Edmonton. He worked in various aspects of strategic and long-range planning for urban and provincial parks. He moved to Courtenay in 2012 with his wife Evelyn.

B.A. English (dramatic lit.focus), film criticism and review courses; Credential, classroom teacher B. C.; M.Ed. Communications and Media; further study in popular culture, but uncompleted Ph.d. Life long film buff who has led film courses for ElderCollege previously.

Jessie has taught YOGA FOR MEN for several years. She teaches Iyengar yoga which enables students to adjust the poses to their unique needs.

Attended Vancouver School of Art and University of Victoria. Taught in the public school system, for Abbotsford Arts Council, Metis BC, and Home School Association.  Currently taking courses at NIC.

Ballet/dance teacher for UVic/Camosun College/Greater Victoria YM YWCA for 28 years

IIROC fully licensed financial advisor; 3 years with a multi-national firm; 24 years as a senior leader in the Air Force with multiple instructional and education roles

Norman began his teaching career in 1975 teaching with Edmonton Public Schools as an Industrial Education teacher at the junior high school level before moving into a position teaching Graphic Communications at high school. After some time, he became a Department Head then a teacher-consultant. And finally an Assistant Principal at a large Edmonton High School. He has held a life-long interest in amateur photography. In 1999, Norman received his Doctor of Education Degree from the University of Alberta. The title of his dissertation was, “Web-based Instruction for Self-paced Learning.” He retired after 34 years with Edmonton Public Schools.

Starting in 2012 with two courses on Film and Politics (aided by Ricarda Van Orden), Brian Charlton and I have partnered in bringing film themes as varied as Location, Location, Location; Books Into Film; Oh, Canada!; Film Noir/Now and Then; Great Directors; Comic Relief; Memorable Westerns; Australian Films; Four Films for Film Lovers (featuring films from New Zealand) and our latest series on aging called Forever Young Part I and Part II. We encourage feedback from the participants in selecting the focus of our film series, and next up is to be determined. Perhaps The Coen Brothers or Great Female Directors or Humour From Around the World...both Brian and I are longtime film lovers and we love sharing our passion for this art form. We avoid mainstream films/films readily available in local cinemas and try to focus on films that are considered works of art.

All ElderCollege presenters are passionate about their topics which are always informative, engaging, interesting, and often fun. So it might seem odd that my passion—really more of a mission—is to encourage, motivate, and provide tools for people to prepare for a health crisis, if they are unable to communicate their wishes, and for death. My “Be Kind To Those You Leave Behind” course evolved and was created over many years after many experiences (my own and of others who have shared them with me), and many people (actually hundreds) have had the courage to sign up to do this work. Participants have told me it has been meaningful, informative, valuable, and an eye-opening experience; I think I am rewarded more than they are just from being able to present this course with the very-necessary and much-appreciated support of ElderCollege. On the personal side, I put friends and family at the top of the give-attention-and-time-to list—this I have learned is most important of all. For activities and past-times I enjoy gardening, art, writing memoir and creative non-fiction, dancing, singing, yoga, taking courses (I am a life-long learner), and I’m a Marriage Commissioner, which gives me a lovely balance with my “death work.” I also ensure I include in my “must-have’s”: reading, napping, and lazing in my garden on summer afternoons (plus ice cream). I was born in Saskatoon in 1949 (you do the math!), taught elementary school for a couple of years, moved to BC in 1972, and have lived in the Comox Valley since 1982.

Spent a dozen years doing scientific research at Universities in the UK and California, studying Immunology and Virology, before starting a 30-year career developing novel pharmaceuticals. Retired after nearly a decade leading a UBC spin-off biotech company creating a new type of drug to control inflammation and infection. Has taught this course at ElderCollege in Parksville and Comox since 2016.

Have coordinated seniors' organizations since 2008 in Comox Valley.  Both of my parents spent time in residential care in Comox Valley.  Was involved in the founding of the first Residents' council at Casa Loma.

Royann Petrell and her husband, Sylvain Alie, have organically gardened to produce most of the food they have eaten over the last 24 years. Gardening was a wonderful place to unwind from stressful jobs and for these two birders to enjoy their hobby. To date, in and around their garden, they have recorded 84 species of birds. Several bird species nest there to feed their young on garden pests. Today Royann, now professor emerita from Chemical and Biological Engineering, UBC, make plans to feed and attract more birds to her garden. She employs her knowledge gained while studying for a BA in biological science and through a long career as a research bioengineer in habitat protection. Flower gardens can be wonderful habitat for birds. Small gardens are a challenge for nesting birds as the birds' needs are many. Royann likes to teach what it takes for a bird to rear a successful brood in general, and then, show what a flower garden would look like to be nature and more specially bird friendly. The numbers of birds are declining rapidly around the world. Royann feels that making small changes to how one gardens would not only help restore bird populations and reduce pest numbers but would bring added joy to the gardening experience.

Retired Physiotherapist with Kinesiology Degree (last practiced 2017).

Six years training with Doreen Hynd in Wu Style Tai Chi Chan

I began teaching first-year Russian at the U. of Waterloo in Sept. 1969. At UBC I continued teaching first-year Russian, as well as third-year oral Russian. As a Canadian exchange student from UBC, I studied and did research on the Soviet historical novel at Moscow State University in 1974–75. I received a Ph.D. in Russian Literature from UBC in 1978. Between 1979 to 1995 I taught first to fourth-year Russian language courses; in addition, I taught courses on Russian Culture to 1917, and a Soviet Culture course; I also taught a related course on Soviet film. For senior students of Russian at UVic, I lectured in Russian courses on literature; first Russian, and then Soviet. At the Univ. of Northern BC, between 1997 until 2014, I taught first and second-year Russian language courses, as well as a Russian cultural history course. On two occasions, I taught courses on Russian History. and on Soviet History; as well, I was called upon twice to teach courses on Soviet social and economic geography courses. Finally, I have 4 books published, although the same fourth book was published by two different publishers.

I'm an eclectic artist dabbling in its many forms and have Lead 5 art-associated courses with ElderCollege.

The Great books and ideas that are foundations of Western Civilization have long been an interest of mine. The Great Books class at ElderCollege has been running for about 17 years and I first joined it 13 years ago. One of the originators of the course, Ken McKenzie, still attends as does an early participant, now 97. If you have an interest or curiosity about the ideas and beliefs of our past and enjoy participating in discussions with like-minded elders, you will enjoy this class. I have a BA in English Literature from UBC too many years ago to count. I have built a pana bode house, a geodesic dome, gardened organically before it became ‘the way’, grew hydroponic tomatoes before marijuana replaced them as a good cash crop. Oh yes, taught senior English, embraced computers as a Data Processing teacher, became a computer guru/technician and bred and enjoyed showing classic Dalmatians on a small farm in the Comox Valley. I have always been an avid reader of eclectic taste. I took over the Great Books class from Ken when the series available from a Chicago publisher was exhausted. The curricula is designed by me in the absence of an appropriate text. My involvement as creator began Winter 2019 and the readings for Winter 2020 will be my third opportunity to share my enthusiasm. We began with early Egypt and Mesopotamia through the significant Greeks. Our current selections come from the Greco -Roman period including Terrance, a comic playwright, advice from Seneca and Cicero on how to Live and die well. Horace’s pastoral poetry, a major influence on English Romantic poets will be discussed as well as some of the mythological tales from the ‘short story’ collection of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. New to this class is the inclusion of some early Eastern textual writings; this time, the first part of The Bhavagad Gita and some wisdom from Confucius. As facilitator I put together the readings which you will receive via weekly email attachments. No lectures—just multiple questions to ponder each week as various members of the class volunteer to lead the often animated discussions. GreatBooks provides an opportunity to make new friends and explore many of the ideas that form the ‘spine’ of the beliefs we hold today. The class is generally light hearted despite the seriousness of the ideas explored.

Mike has been photographing birds since 2004 and wrote bird columns for the NORTH ISLANDER for ten years before it was closed. He has also self-published six successful books including three on Vancouver Island Birds and one on Vancouver Island Butterflies.