The Long and Short of It (Bio)

The Shorter Version:

I was born in Salmon Arm, British Columbia, Canada–the province where my parents had lived for four years during the time they were deeply involved in ministering to, and advocating for, Japanese Canadian internees who were imprisoned there during World War II. My earliest childhood memories, however, were formed in rural Ontario, and at the age of eight, I had my first experience of being uprooted and parted from the friends and places I’d grown to love. My father and mother returned to Japan–where they had lived and studied for three years prior to WWII–taking me, my two older brothers and younger sister with them. During the nine years I lived there, my sister and I spoke Japanese fluently, moving between the two languages–English and Japanese–with ease. I attended Canadian Academy in Kobe for Grade 3, after which I was home-schooled in Tokushima for Grades 4-7. I returned to CA for my high school years, living in residence and enjoying every minute of it!

Attending an international school along with twenty-four other nationalities, shaped my worldview, which continued to develop during time spent teaching in Guyana, SA and Jamaica, WI under the auspices of the Canadian University Services Overseas (CUSO).

Although I have never set out to write stories, poems or novels about diversity or multiculturalism per se, observations acquired from spending eleven years abroad have crept into my work through the settings I’ve used, or the characters I’ve created, or the themes I’ve developed that have dealt, in particular, with identity issues.

I’m currently living and writing in the community of Dartmouth, within Halifax Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia.

The Longer Version:

A general description of my formative years in Japan may be found on my Home page, as well as under the Third Culture Kids tab above. During my time at Canadian Academy–an international boarding and day school in Kobe–the student body was made up of twenty-four nationalities, predominantly American. Life on the CA campus was, in retrospect, a culture within a culture. This is something I hadn’t thought about at the time, since my daily encounters seemed to flow seamlessly between the two.

I had expected this topic to have become irrelevant by now, since advances in social media technology are able to connect friends from around the world instantly, 24/7. Much to my surprise, this isn’t the case. I discovered that current blogs of many self-described “third culture kids” (TCKs) or “cross cultural kids” (CCKs) continue to express similar emotions to those experienced by me in the early ’60s, in which I had lacked a sense of belonging after my return to Canada. Typically, I had difficulty coming up with a spontaneous answer to the simple question, “where are you from?” Thus I believe there is a market for fiction and non-fiction, today, whose themes touch upon this complex issue of identity, since globalization has meant that many families have had, and continue to have, extended stays in foreign countries. Some of what these young people experience may cross over, or overlap, with themes discussed by recent immigrants and refugees.

My Canadian University Services Overseas (CUSO) Connection:

After graduating from Wilfrid Laurier University (formerly Waterloo Lutheran University) in Waterloo, Ontario, my husband Dennis and I–newlyweds–left for the Canadian University Services Overseas teacher training and orientation program which took place on three campuses: Saint Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia; the University of the West Indies (Kingston, Jamaica); and the University of the West Indies (Port of Spain, Trinidad). From there we dispersed with other CUSO volunteers to various parts of the Caribbean. We were both assigned to teach in the newly constructed, secondary school in the small coastal village of Manchester, Guyana. After fourteen months there, we transferred to Oberlin High School in Lawrence Tavern, Jamaica to complete our two year contract with CUSO. Characters I created for my first MG/YA novel manuscript were based upon children and young people I once knew in Japan, Guyana and Jamaica, and my own two boys when they were very young.

Employment History:

See Writing Related Activities and CV tab on the Menu Above.

Where I Live Now:

We returned from working overseas to settle in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, and four years later, moved with our two sons (ages one and three) to Halifax, Nova Scotia. While living here, interaction with international students continued on and off for over two decades as we became host-parents to fifty-five or more”English as a Second Language” students representing eleven different countries and the province of Quebec. Our “sons and daughters” from around the world stayed with us for varying lengths of time–as short as one month, to as long as four years. Needless to say, they were fun-loving, intelligent, sometimes frustrating, but also typical young adults, who for the most part, were eager to share their home cultures with us, thereby enriching our lives in countless ways.

Looking back, I clearly remember our arrival here. As soon as our small, red station wagon topped the last of the hills before heading down into the city, a panoramic view of the sea filled me with a sense of homecoming. In the years that followed–while sitting in the sunroom of our Dartmouth home overlooking the harbour–I would look out over the port city at night, and be reminded of the view from my dorm window at Canadian Academy in the foothills of Kobe.

Nova Scotia…I love this province and the community in which I live–central to Halifax Regional Municipality.  Neither I, my siblings, nor my parents grew up here, but it is the one province in Canada where my ancestral roots run very, very deep.  I count myself lucky that my husband feels the same attachment to this place as I do, and that both my sons and daughter-in-law continue to live nearby.

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