Meet Our Instructors

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

Dr. Sophia Andras studied dentistry at Semmelweis Medical University of Budapest, became a Master of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine in Texas, US and studied nutrition at the Canadian Nutrition Institute. She retired from private practice in Calgary, AB and moved to Nanaimo to assist developing a meditation centre on Vancouver Island.

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.

COURSES TAUGHT:

  • 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.

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

Marlet Ashley, B. A. , B. Ed. , M. A. , taught creative writing at the U. of Windsor and literature at BC’s Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Author of six children's books, a university level text, "Literature and the Writing Process", and a novel "The Right Kind of Crazy".

Retired Canadian Forces. Rockhound and fossil collector. Co-owner of Comox Valley Fossil Adventures, a small business that specializes in hands on fossil hunting adventures for small groups and for classrooms. 6 years of guiding customers to fossil discoveries. Taught explosives safety to all members of 19 Wing for 6 years; part of the teaching team at Borden for EOD instruction and new recruit management.

My work history includes being a journalist for CBC current affairs; a researcher with two national research organizations, and a documentary filmmaker in my own company. I have been leading Guided Autobiography (GAB) workshops for 5 years, & am a certified instructor. I have a Masters degree in Political Science from UBC.

John Black is Professor Emeritus in Liberal Studies at Vancouver Island University. He has a doctorate in philosophy from UBC, and has led many art history field schools to Europe. He is a volunteer group leader with VIU’s Adventures in Mind, a program offering educational travel to lifelong learners.

Terri Bowen (BEd, MA, Master Graphologist) is a retired principal of a Learning Through the Arts school in Calgary. A four time winner of our local Lighthouse Country's Grand Aggregate Arts Award, in 2020, she also won Oceanside's Art Warz contest. Her art can be found from the UK to Florida and across Canada. She works in many mediums and formats including mural painting.

Kate studied design in London, England then opened her own commercial interior design business in Vancouver where she also designed children's furniture/toys and women's apparel. Kate started up “Artsphere” in 2011, reported “Arts Beat” for Shaw TV, and in 2011 was awarded the Arts Ambassador Local Hero Award for the Comox Valley.

Brian paints full-time in oils and acrylics. His interest is the Canadian landscape, including painting on location (plein air). He has won numerous competitions and awards for both his studio and plein air paintings. He is represented by galleries in BC, Alberta, and Ontario. He is an elected member of the Federation of Canadian Artists, The Society of Canadian Artists, and the Ontario Society of Artists. www.brianbuckrell.com

Lyle has been a member of the Canadian Bar Association since 1983 and is a strong supporter of public legal education. He has taught with Athabasca University, Fairview College, Grande Prairie Regional College, the Alberta Real Estate Association, the Council for Lifelong Learning and the Rural Learning Network and helped create The Estate & Financial Planning Institute and FEP Institute Inc. He has given several courses for ElderCollege.

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.

Phyllis Chubb has studied and practiced both Western and Eastern astrology for nearly 50 years. She holds formal accreditation in both disciplines and an MA in Counselling from SFU.

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.

Donna is an accountant and treasurer of the NIC Foundation.

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).

Dr. Tanja Daws, a family physician from Courtenay, was one of the first MAID providers in BC upon assisted dying becoming a legally available treatment option. She is an experienced MAID assessor and provider, founding board member of the Canadian Association of MAID Assessors and Providers and serves on the Physician Advisory Council of Dying with Dignity.

Christine Dickinson is an educator with a passion for regional history. She co-authored Atlin: The Story of British Columbia's Last Gold Rush (Atlin Historical Society, 1995), which received the Lieutenant-Governor's Award, Watershed Moments, and Step Into Wilderness.

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

David Gordon Duke has degrees from UBC, the University of North Carolina, and the University of Victoria. He teaches at the School of Music at Vancouver Community College and regularly contributes essays and reviews to The Vancouver Sun and the online journal of the North American Association of Music Critics.

Retired Fighter Pilot, Airline Captain and Business jet pilot. Addicted to technology and things that move fast. But now our world is changing faster than most expected and the transition in ground transport to both sustainable and clean energy is impacting us all. Learn how we can benefit from this change. Dale will share his personal journey to owning not one but now two fully electric vehicles; and how solar panels play a role and the impact of these vehicles to our planet, our neighbourhoods, and our wallet!

I taught literature and writing, with an emphasis on Canadian literature, in the English department at MacEwan University in Edmonton for twenty-seven years, retiring to the Comox Valley with my wife in 2014.

I am a retired teacher-guidance counselor of 30 years experience. I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis over 20 years ago and have been using Cannabis as my medicine for the last 10+ years with significant improvement. I have since then been giving Cannabis as a medicine classes in my neighborhood when I lived in Manitoba.

Stewart Goodings is a retired federal and provincial assistant deputy minister who worked on many technical assistance missions to Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Romania, China, and the Philippines. He also chairs the annual Denman Island Readers and Writers Festival. He has history degrees from Queen's University and the University of Toronto.

Gordon had a career working in engineering for BCTel (Telus). His interests lie in physics and electronics. Aside from building his own airplane he has restored countless radios from older tube varieties to solid state and has researched the history of this remarkable appliance that most of us possess.

Having been interested in the history of medieval England for many years, Alana is delighted to have an opportunity to share her enthusiasm. She is an experienced instructor and has taught every level from primary to post-secondary. She has also provided several history courses for Comox Valley ElderCollege. However, please note that Alana does not take history too seriously, so a lighthearted approach is to be expected.

Ted is a retired pipefitter, who raised his family in Victoria, then relocated to the Comox Valley and full retirement in 2012. A lifetime love of hiking and exploring soon led Ted to participate in ElderCollege and "Scenic Hikes." Ted took over leading the hikes in 2014 and has happily continued ever since.

Having been interested in the history of medieval England for many years, Alana is delighted to have an opportunity to share her enthusiasm. She is an experienced instructor and has taught every level from primary to post-secondary. She has also provided several history courses for Comox Valley ElderCollege. However, please note that Alana does not take history too seriously, so a lighthearted approach is to be expected.

I retired to the Comox Valley in 2003 after varied careers as a clergyman, university lecturer, global development administrator and animateur, community college administrator and counsellor of teachers. What these all had in common was the value of lifelong learning. It was a delight to discover Eldercollege and to participate in facilitating, not teaching, the art of writing.

Amanda Hale began writing as an immigrant in 1970s Montréal. She has published four novels, two collections of linked fictions, and poetry chapbooks. Her work has appeared in many literary magazines. She won the Prism International prize for creative non-fiction and has twice been a finalist for the Relit Fiction award. She is the librettist for Pomegranate, an opera to be toured by the Canadian Opera Company in 2022. www.amandahale.com

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.

Monica is the Comox Valley's African drumming instructor and drum circle facilitator. She also teaches Drums Alive and bucket drumming locally. Monica infuses all her workshops with positive energy, enthusiasm, and a deep love and respect for the power of rhythm.

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.

Terrance James, PhD, is a retired public school teacher and administrator, post-secondary instructor, and rehabilitation consultant. He has authored eight books on education, psychology, and local history, and three biographies. He is president of the Comox Valley Writers Society.

Marilyn Jones, BA honors English (U of A), MPub (SFU), enjoys sharing her keen interest in female authors, publishing history and the arts.

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.

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.

Cory is the Community Engagement Manager and brings with her 15 years of experience in stakeholder relations and partnership building.

Joel received his MIT degree in physics, though his expertise and interests span many sciences, particularly biology and astronomy. After a successful science career, mostly researching radar applications, he enjoys organizing and presenting courses in many scientific fields designing them for the interested layperson, without the use of mathematics. His courses focus on imparting a general understanding of the subject, rather than on esoteric details that would require prerequisite knowledge.

Steve Lane (Ph. D. University of Victoria) is a recently-retired professor and academic administrator. Steve's dissertation was on William Wordsworth, and he taught numerous courses on the Romantics and Romanticism while at VIU. He has also delivered papers at international conferences on Romantic poets Wordsworth, Blake, and Byron.

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.

Kim Letson enjoys travelling and writing about her adventures. With two creative nonfiction travel memoirs published, she is working on a third. She feels that through exploration then sharing our stories, we achieve a greater appreciation and compassion for other cultures. When at home in the Comox Valley she spends her time writing, gardening or walking with friends.

Professional organizer, Toastmaster.

Norman has always had an interest in visual arts, amateur photography and teaching. He spent many years with the Edmonton Public School Board in high school positions including teacher of Graphic Communications, Department Head, teacher-consultant, and Assistant Principal. In 1999, Norman received his Doctor of Education Degree from the University of Alberta. Since retirement, Norm has been teaching his life-long interest of photography with ElderCollege.

Ms Catherine McCann, BScPharm, MBA, a pharmacist for over 30 years, owns the Comox Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy. Ms. Wendy Stewart-Fox, BScPharm. is a pharmacist with over 15 years of experience. Ms. Lisa Bui has over 10 years of experience as a pharmacist and certified diabetes educator. They serve a community-based geriatric population, working to keep seniors healthy so they can continue to enjoy an excellent quality of life.

Robert McDonald spent his career in technology and management. Since retirement, he has spent time learning about and experiencing the mystical aspects of different spiritual traditions, attending courses at theological college, doing workshops at retreat centers, exploring monasteries and churches in Europe, being blessed in the inner sanctum of Indian temples, spending hours in a sweat lodge or fasting for three days in the desert.

I moved to the Comox Valley in 2016 and jumped at the opportunity to take classes at CVEC since I had some spare time on my hands. My first choice was the Writers' Workshop to wake up that budding Mark Twain. The class was topped at 10 participants. There were many others interested in attending but they could not be accommodated. I thought that was a shame so when they asked me in my second semester whether I would be willing to facilitate another class to double the number of participants, I jumped at the chance and have been so glad that I did. I don't teach, I facilitate, proven by the fact that I have learned much more from my classmates than I could even begin to teach them. After three years of doing this, I have learned that the Writers' Workshop is a loving journey into the minds of the participants with all the emotion, challenges and rewards that entails.

Karen has been in the Comox Valley for 20 years and has a background in community engagement, teaching and entrepreneurship. She is a graduate of Royal Roads Masters of Communication program. She is passionate about community and is involved with Comox Valley Hospice and the Comox Valley Community Health Network.

Linda is an active volunteer who has lived in the Valley for 40 years. More than 450 EC members and others have taken this course. It was created after many life experiences (her own and of others who have shared them with her). Participants have found the course meaningful, informative, valuable, and an eye-opening experience. Linda feels rewarded just for being able to present this course.

Joyce McMenamon is a Master Composter from the Comox Valley, an Organic Master Gardener, and an avid food gardener. She has been making rich wormy compost for decades and enjoys helping others make compost successfully and safely.

Retiring to the Comox Valley gave Judi the chance to jump into the arts scene. Volunteering at the Sid Williams Theatre and Musicfest, acting in Half Life with Courtenay Little Theatre, interviewing local musicians for her program No Strings Attached on Shaw TV and MC'ing for the Georgia Straight Jazz Society introduced her to our amazing talented musicians.

Lived in and worked in Comox Valley for 48 years and moved to Campbell River 4 years ago. Worked for the provincial government as an appraiser of property (tax assessor).

 Later in life worked in private business as a private real estate appraiser. Retired member of Appraisal Institute of Canada [ AACI. P.app]. Retired member Professional division of REIBC [RI]. Retired member of Royal institution of Chartered Surveyors [MRICS].

Appraised (valued), many Strata’s/ Condominiums from individual units to Conceptual developments.

Served on volunteer and paid boards related to the property field. Currently Chair of the Campbell River Board of Variance. Served on strata council in many positions.

Debbie Narver BSc, MBA, MScIB worked in a variety of technical and leadership roles. She discovered the physical and stress relieving benefits of yoga 20 years ago. Fascinated by this subject, Debbie enrolled in Yoga Teacher training and completed her 200 hour certification in 2014. She enjoys some volunteer teaching, and sharing her knowledge and experience with others.

Diane Naugler is the director of Future Students & Community Engagement at NIC and executive director of the NIC Foundation.

Professor emeritus, Dept of History, University of British Columbia. Forty-plus years of teaching at all university degree levels of history, including world history, race in America, U. S. and Canadian history. Since retirement, several years of teaching in ElderCollege formats in Vancouver. Published books on American history and African slavery in the Americas as well as research articles and academic reviews. I moved to Courtenay in November, 2020.

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.

Sylvia Olsen was a teenager when she married into the Tsartlip First Nation in 1972. She has been making wool and knitting with her Coast Salish family ever since. Her Master's dissertation was the story behind the NFB film "The Story of Coast Salish Knitters" and her book "Working with Wool." Sylvia has published several other books on knitting and continues to study the history of knitting around the world.

Retired school teacher with extensive experience teaching music and physical education at the intermediate level. I have sung in many choirs and quartets, and presently sing with Island Voices Chamber Choir. Also, served the British Columbia Teacher's Federation as a Health and Wellness Associate, which involved offering workshops on staying healthy and living a balanced life.

Susan has taught improv at North Island College's ElderCollege for many years. She believes in the power of laughter. Susan has also facilitated improv programs for young adults at North Island Distance Education School.

Danny Ramadan (He/Him) is a Syrian-Canadian author, public speaker and adovate for LGBTQ+ refugees with an MFA in Creative Writing from UBC. Through his fundraising efforts, Ramadan raised over $250,000 for Syrian LGBTQ+ identifying refugees. His debut novel, The Clothesline Swing, was shortlisted for the Lambda Literary Award, longlisted for Canada Reads, and named a Best Book of the Year by the Globe and Mail and Toronto Star.

Practiced law in Alberta 1973 - 1993. Appointed to the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench 1993 and to the Alberta Court of Appeal in 2002. Retired in 2013 and moved to Comox Valley in 2014. Was legal counsel for Joe Clark during Constitutional Referendum held on October 26, 1992. Gave talks and papers on constitutional issues to Alberta Bar and to judges across Canada.

During his working years, Barry was an educator with a career focused on school aged children who learn differently. In addition, he ran many professional development sessions for teachers on various topics, in both Canada and the United States. As an educational consultant, in a variety of school settings, he learned the importance of actively building teams.

Spearheaded the construction of the successful Galloping Goose Trail in Victoria, BC. Former Capital regional Director and former Member of Parliament for Victoria.

My career in the insurance industry spans 30 years with just over 28 of those specializing directly with travel risk both as president of Simpson Group Insurance Services as well as a partner in North South Healthcare Solutions, a trade organization offering travel and health coverage to those leaving Canada for the USA.

Annie Smith has been teaching theatre and directing plays for most of her life--on Vancouver Island and in other parts of B. C. and Alberta. She has a particular interest in Canadian women playwrights and Indigenous theatre and performance. She also teaches for SFU's 55+ Program and for Antioch University in the US.

Wedlidi is Kwakwaka'wakw, Nuu-chah-nulth and North Vancouver Island Coast Salish - E'iksan (commonly, and erroniously called K'omoks). He is a hereditary chief and recognized historian, storyteller and spiritual leader. He lives in the Comox Valley with his wife.

Larry Stevenson was appointed as the chief executive officer of the Island Corridor Foundation on August 1, 2018, to provide leadership and expertise to revitalize rail operations on Vancouver Island. He has over 25 years of railway experience from the shop floor to the executive levels of the organization, and extensive experience as an entrepreneur and business consultant.

Lucas was introduced to meditation in 2004 while in India. He discovered a sense of contentment and inner peace that he had been seeking. This created a passion in him to share his practice with others. Lucas has shared many meditation sessions in schools, groups and spiritual centers.

Gregg spent long years outside Canada working in less commonly visited corners of our world - first as a Canadian volunteer teacher, then with various international development agencies. After returning to Canada, he started taking extended cycling tours to remote areas. Past board member of Comox Valley Cycling Coalition.

45 years as an educator: 28 years in SD71 (Highland; GP Vanier); 21 years as Grad Programs Professor: Royal Roads; 5 years as Grad Program FOM Professor: VIU. Applied Systems Thinking expert, with (First Class) Double Honours BAs (Lit & History): SFU (first degrees of this type issued in Canada) - (First Class) Masters degree (Leadership/Organization): Royal Roads - Education Doctorate: Online Education (ABD, with defense completed; revisions in progress).

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

Born and raised in Paris, did undergraduate studies in Caen in Normandie, moved to Montréal to teach plant physiology to students almost my age, did graduate studies in Raleigh (North Carolina) and worked 30 years in research for the Canadian Department of Agriculture. From a soil biologist, expert at chemical control of nematodes, I turned genetic engineer, and finished as head of a department of Molecular Biology. Dr. Vrain retired 18 years ago, but he resuscitated 10 years ago, with a mission to educate about the chemical contamination of food and feed from sprayed GMO crops and cereals. I have lectured extensively across Canada and the USA on this topic. I have now retired from this campaign to give more energy to create the Botanic Garden and the vision of Innisfree. On the side I enjoy growing food, teaching about life and all our relations. And I cook at the Green Dream Cafe.

Bruce Walton has Ph. D in Canadian history. He is a lifelong music fan, and has been a DJ at CKCU-FM in Ottawa since 1992. He has lived in the Comox Valley since 2015; this will be the third version of "All That Jazz ".

Dr. Roger Wong is Vice Dean (Education) in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia (UBC). He is a Clinical Professor in the Division of Geriatric Medicine, and a Consultant Physician of the Geriatric Consultation Program at the Vancouver General Hospital.

Dr. Wong received his M.D. degree with Honours in Research from the University of Alberta. He was elected to the Fellowship of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, one of the highest honours in the health sciences field in Canada.

Dr. Wong has received a number of prestigious awards for his exceptional leadership in seniors’ health, including the Ronald Cape Distinguished Service Award, the highest honour given by the Canadian Geriatrics Society. He has also received numerous medical education awards, including the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada’s Duncan Graham Award in 2020 (the top national award for outstanding contribution to medical education), the UBC Killam Teaching Prize, the UBC Faculty of Medicine Clinical Faculty Award for Career Excellence in Clinical Teaching, and the UBC Department of Medicine Master Teacher Award.

Dr. Wong works tirelessly to advance geriatrics, with significant impact on the care for older people in Canada and the world. He was the 13th President of the Canadian Geriatrics Society, the 2017 Trevor Howell Lecturer bestowed by the British Geriatrics Society and received the 2019 International Visiting Professor Medal from the Australia and New Zealand Society of Geriatric Medicine, the first Canadian who has received this highest honour

Dr. Wong has published and lectured extensively on geriatric medicine and medical education. He is also a TEDx Speaker whose talk has been curated by the TED website, transcribed in multiple languages, and viewed by international audiences around the world.

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.