Douglas 360°

Talking about grey issues in black and white times

Douglas College entrance sign, photo by David Denofreo

By Kathy Denton, Douglas College President
Photo by David Denofreo

Central to any university or college experience has long been the challenging of assumptions – getting us to analyze and dissect our beliefs, even our values – to hold them up to the light and peer deeply into that which we hold dear.

Conversations that question established narratives can be hard and scary. Having to justify positions under the light of competing stories, or in the face of passionate opposition, forces us to confront deeply entrenched beliefs that we may have previously accepted as “fact” or never even thought about at all.

One such conversation Douglas College is currently having is around our namesake – Sir James Douglas. Douglas is often described as the “Father of British Columbia” and the Douglas name is ubiquitous in B.C.: Douglas Channel; Douglas Peak; Douglas Street; James (Douglas) Bay; Mount Douglas; and, of course, Douglas College. This simple framing of the man as founding father is often where historical citations of Sir James Douglas end, leaving the impression of him as a great and noble leader bringing civilization to a wild and untamed land.

But there is much more to his name and to his legacy. Under a different lens, Douglas is seen as a colonial tyrant who subverted the interests of the people in favour of the corporate interests of the Hudson’s Bay Company and the Crown. He opposed universal suffrage and negotiated treaties with First Nations that could be described as patronizing, self-serving and disingenuous at best.

Douglas had his own struggles with identity. He was born in Guyana of mixed-race parentage, educated in Scotland, was fluent in French and married Amelia Connolly, whose mother was Cree. He was responsible for helping hundreds of families from the San Francisco Black community, who had been denied U.S. citizenship, immigrate to Victoria, B.C., in search of a more welcoming home. Yet his reasons for doing so likely had less to do with humanitarian impulses and more to do with his desire to grow the number immigrants sympathetic to Britain under his rule.

In many ways, Sir James Douglas was an early poster child for Canadian multiculturalism. In others, he was a man of his times and a colonialist through and through. So, how should we talk about him? Is it enough to simply call him the “Father of British Columbia” when his legacy is much more complicated?

In today’s divisive world, it’s easy to see why institutions might shy away from challenging conversations. Yet, today the role of colleges and universities as champions of respectful dialogue is even more important.

Tonight, as a part of Douglas College’s response to the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Douglas will welcome Adele Perry, distinguished University of Manitoba professor, and Wayde Compton, award-winning Douglas College creative writing instructor, to a public discussion on the complicated narratives surrounding the life and legacies of Sir James Douglas.

On complex issues, colleges and universities are often looked to for leadership. Encouraging open and respectful dialogue on challenging topics is part of that role.

Humans of DC: Carpe Diem

Sydney Clarke, Douglas College student

By Douglas College Student Life

“Five years ago, I got really sick and was hospitalized. I almost died, but because of that I think it made me a better person and it changed my perspective on many things. I kind of see it as a positive, and that’s why I have this tattoo on my wrist. It’s that date, just because I don’t think I’d be who I am today if that didn’t happen to me. And I’m happy with myself today. I’m proud of myself for coming out of that experience with a good attitude, and always being positive and trying not to be negative. I think it taught me how precious life is, and that we need to try new things and experience all of it.”

tattoo of date Sydney was hospitalized and almost died

“Growing up, I always wanted to play music, but I also played sports. I’ve always been so focused on sports, so coming to Douglas, I wanted to see what music had to offer as a profession. But I’ve found out that music isn’t for me; I love it, but I’m not going to continue with it next year.”

“I think if you’re interested in something, try it out! If you don’t like it, take it off your list and try something else. This is a journey and I think it’s important to figure out what you like and don’t like. It’s all a process.”

Don’t be a word thief

handcuffed hands typing on keyboard

By Shannon Moist, Head of Reference Services Librarian

Properly citing (or referencing) your sources for all those books and articles you read, and websites you visit is fundamental to avoiding plagiarism, and upholding the principles of academic integrity, which is taken very seriously at Douglas College.

Not properly citing your sources can lead to allegations of plagiarism, cheating or the misuse or misrepresentation of sources. According to the Douglas College Academic Integrity Policy, penalties for these offences can include having to repeat the assignment, receiving a zero on the assignment or even a suspension or expulsion from the College.

The main reasons it’s important for students to make correct citations are that:

  • It gives credit to the people whose work and ideas you are using
  • It allows those reading your work to find the resources you used
  • It shows that you have done proper research into your topic

At the library, we understand that citations can sometimes be confusing, especially if it’s your first experience with them or if you are having to use multiple reference styles (MLA, APA, etc.) for different classes. Our librarians are a great place to start for learning how to properly cite your sources. We have also have many resources to help you with citations of all styles.

Need more help? Try a Citation Session for assistance with citing and research from a librarian. The sessions run 12–3pm on Oct. 30, 31, Nov. 6 and 7. No registration required – just drop in!

Keeping it local

Douglas Music alum Jay Schreiber stands in Steel & Oak brewing room with drum and glass of beer

By Melissa Nilan, Marketing and Communications

Tomorrow, Oct. 25, the Arts at One concert series at Douglas College will present a performance by alumni, including Music Diploma grad Jay Schreiber playing percussion. Though his various interests initially led him away from home, in the past few years Jay has come back to his roots in New Westminster and found a way to balance his two passions – music and beer – as an incoming Board Member for the Arts Council of New Westminster and Account Manager for Steel & Oak Brewing Co.

“I had a rough start at college and failed a couple classes in my first semester. But my instructors were very encouraging and pushed me to keep going,” says Jay. “The final semester of the diploma program was really intense, but it gave me the momentum I needed for UVic, and the transition was pretty easy.”

Jay completed a bachelor’s degree in music performance and composition. Once he’d acquired his degree, he started thinking about his career options. He was – and still is – interested in teaching, but at the time of graduation wasn’t quite ready to commit to more schooling. Instead, he decided to chase a different interest – beer.

He got a job at Granville Island Brewery, where he developed a passion for craft beer. When Steel & Oak Brewing Co., New Westminster’s local craft brewery, announced their opening, the opportunity to join a brew team in the town where he grew up was one he didn’t want to miss, so he reached out to the fledgling Steel & Oak asking for a job. Jay’s initial position at Steel & Oak involved everything from working the tasting room to packaging and delivery. As word spread about the brewery, and as Jay began to develop relationships with customers in the community, he moved permanently into a sales role as account manager, helping to grow the brewery from 10 accounts to over 400.

“The workforce is changing so much. Millennials are encouraged to be as creative as possible and to take the time to learn creative skills, such as music. My music education gave me those essential creative skills and taught me about society, community, infrastructure and socio-economics,” Jay says. “Going to post-secondary put the blocks in place to allow me to see a bigger picture, and that kind of thinking is what’s helped me be successful.”

Despite his heavy involvement in the craft beer industry, he hasn’t given up on his first craft; instead, he’s found a way to balance both passions. He is involved with the music scene as a juror for artist development grant proposals through FACTOR Canada, as well as a member – now board member – of the Arts Council of New Westminster. His connections to both Steel & Oak and the Arts Council have given him the opportunity to be involved with the local festivals, such as Fridays on Front and Music by the River. He’s played at many of the venues in New Westminster with other local musicians, and guest-lectured at Douglas on music composition.

See Jay perform live on Oct. 25 at 1pm at the Laura C. Muir Theatre at the New Westminster Campus. Arts at One is a series of free concerts featuring professional musicians and outstanding Douglas Music students, and is held most Thursdays at 1pm during the Fall and Winter Semesters.


Anthropology students dig deep in the pursuit of knowledge

Excavation of Lil'wat people's village near Pemperton, photo by archeology instructor Bill Angelbeck

By Melissa Nilan, Marketing and Communications
Photos by: Bill Angelbeck, Adelaide McKenna, Kristal Maxim and Johnny Jones

A group of Douglas College Anthropology students uncovered a love for archeology last summer through a unique field trip that provided valuable evidence to support the oral history of the Lil’wat Nation.

Organized by Douglas Anthropology instructor and archeologist Bill Angelbeck, the hands-on project saw three Douglas students visit the site of an ancient village of the Lil’wat people in the Pemberton and Mount Currie region.

A traditional winter village, the site contains the remnants of at least 13 pithouses and numerous cache pits, which were smaller pits used for storing smoked and dried salmon. The pithouses were round homes built partially underground to reserve heat during the Winter. Because of this, they leave a prominent circular depression eight to 15 metres across that is noticeable to archeologists. The village is estimated to be approximately 2,000 years old, though samples from a base camp in the area indicate the territory was home to the Lil’wat Nation for much longer – more than 5,500 years.

The goal of the project is to determine a time range for when the site was in use and create a 3D topographical map of the entire village.

Old 2D map vs. new 3D map of archeological site

Old 2D map vs. new 3D map of archeological site

Bill and his students – Adelaide McKenna, Kristal Maxim and Greg Waldock – along with Douglas alum-turned-research-assistant Kristin Oliver, worked at the excavation for a week in July. They were joined by a team of Lil’wat Nation community members and other volunteer archeologists and researchers.

“This project provides a platform for an ongoing relationship between Douglas College and the Lil’wat community; it’s an opportunity to conduct research of interest with the collaboration and involvement of the Lil’wat people,” says Bill.

By involving students in the dig, Bill says he wants to give them an opportunity to put lecture into practice and gain hands-on learning experience in excavating a real archeological site.

“It’s something students can add to their resumé if they choose to pursue the discipline as a career,” he says.

Kristal, an Anthropology major, says she wasn’t even interested in archaeology before taking classes with Bill and fellow instructor Laurie Beckwith. Once she did, she realized how inseparable the two disciplines were, and wanted to experience life in the field.

“The excavation itself was physically demanding and meticulous – lots of digging, lifting and careful measurement-taking. I got to work directly with an archeologist, which was invaluable, and despite the slow nature of the process, I found it exhilarating,” she says. “Also, it was an honour to work alongside Lil’wat community members, who graciously welcomed us onto their ancestral lands. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of the work Bill is doing; it was a transformative experience that left me feeling inspired and humbled. I can’t wait to do again.”

For Greg, this was his second field dig with Bill. He says that much like the first, it affirmed his career choice.

Each excavation pushes me more into the field of archeology,” he says. “This year was especially interesting as all three members of the Douglas Anthropology department joined, along with another independent archeologist. Working alongside them showed me a lot about the many dynamics of anthropology as a career. My greatest experience, though, was the privilege of working with representatives from the Lil’wat Nation.”

Adelaide was originally enrolled in Environmental Sciences, but after taking Bill’s Intro to Archaeology course as an elective, she was hooked, and changed her major to Anthropology.

The excavation was a fantastic experience in both the archeology and anthropology disciplines,” she says. “The archeological appeal lay in the unfurling of the Lil’wat people’s ancestry in 10-cm increments, stepping piece by piece into history and the science of how that is done; the anthropological aspect aided in understanding what we were seeing in each layer and ensuring we were respectful of both past and present members of the Lil’wat community. Members of the Lil’wat community cleansed and blessed the site, and sang and drummed; we got to witness the living legacy of the Lil’wat Nation. The whole excursion will have a lifelong impact on me.”

This year marks the fourth year of the project.

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Psychiatric Nursing students find a cure for toxic work environments

Image shows a stethoscope and pen on a scheduling chart.


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Douglas College Nursing students are working to turn the tide on toxic work environments for new nurses. Read below to hear from fourth-year Bachelor of Science in Psychiatric Nursing student Sadie Gallant on how an online movement aims to promote a positive and inclusive workplace.

“While researching for a project, we came across the Nurses Support Their Young movement, which challenges the popular notion that nurses “eat their young” or being rough to new nurses to toughen them up or thicken their skin as an initiation to the field.

The movement, which is sweeping social media on an international level with the hashtag #NursesSupportTheirYoung, also features an online pledge that nurses can take, vowing to promote a healthy and empowering work environment.

The goal for the project is to challenge workplace bullying and address the issue of lateral abuse between nursing professionals. The issues of bullying and psychological abuse between nurses is seldom brought to light, however both are quite prevalent in the caring field.

The concept of being tough on new nurses as an initiation to nursing is still being practiced today because we have normalized it – that’s how nurses before us were trained and it continues to get passed down with little reflection on how it is impacting practice.

Evidence-informed practice tells us the opposite. A toxic work environment leads to lower nurse satisfaction and poor patient outcomes. As we are soon to be graduating, the this cohort will enter the field with strong values for civility in the workplace, fostering empowerment, supportiveness and encouragement.”

Breaking down the ballot

By Darin Nesbitt, Instructor, Department of Political Science

IMG_0005[752] British Columbia will soon have a referendum on which voting system will be used for provincial elections. Referendums are a democratic tool for empowerment, making citizens feel informed and consulted. It is both desirable and necessary that British Columbians choose the rules that define how representatives are elected since governments have an inherent conflict of interest doing so. The type of voting system we use is simply too important to be left to representatives to decide.

The B.C. referendum will be held by mail from Oct. 22 to Nov. 30, 2018. Vote PR BC is the official proponent group, while NO BC Proportional Representation Society is the official opponent. Voters will be asked two questions on the ballot:

The referendum result is binding, so if more than half of voters support first-past-the-post on the first question, it will continue to be used for provincial elections. If a majority endorses proportional representation, the proportional system with the most support on the second question will be adopted.

An Angus Reid poll of British Columbians on Sept. 28 suggests 33 percent support proportional representation, 31 percent single-member plurality and 33 percent are undecided. That same poll indicates that of voters who favour proportional representation, 49 percent support mixed-member proportional, 26 percent rural-urban proportional, and 24 percent dual-member proportional.

The large number of undecided voters reveals more public information is needed about the benefits of first-past-the-post versus proportional voting systems. As part of this informational campaign, the Department of Political Science and the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Douglas College are sponsoring a public talk by Simon Fraser University political scientist Eline de Rooij on the upcoming referendum.

Professor de Rooij will discuss the motivation behind the referendum, what is at stake and the differences between the options on the ballot. She will present some data on the values B.C. citizens want reflected in their electoral system, and on their preferred options. Finally, she will try to debunk some commonly held misconceptions about the different electoral systems, and explore the ways B.C. politics might change should proportional representation be adopted.

The discussion will be held on Oct.23 at 6:30pm in the Aboriginal Gathering Place (room 4650, New Westminster Campus). Students, staff, faculty and the public are all invited to attend this important talk. Coffee and tea will be provided.

Take a course. Skip the tuition.

Image shows woman logging on to computer with a black screen, white coffee mug, white note pad and white ballpoint pen.

By Nicole Chiu, Communications Coordinator, CEIT

Ever wanted to learn a new skill or beef up your resumé – but didn’t have the time or know where to start?

Thanks to, you can (once you log in) start learning new skills in less than 30 seconds. is an online, subscription-based learning platform with thousands of video courses taught by industry experts on everything from software development, to design, to web development, to photography, to business.

And now, it’s free for all Douglas College students.

Enrolling in a course is easy – just click “Play.” Once you’ve chosen a course on the platform, you can access it on your desktop computer, smartphone or tablet 24/7. You can also download your courses if you’re going to be accessing lessons when you don’t have an internet connection.

With, you can learn whatever you want, wherever you want, at a pace you’re comfortable with. When you’re confident in the new skill you’ve learned, show it off by printing off a Certificate of Completion or adding it to your resumé.

Login instructions:

  • Go to
  • Click “Sign In” at the top of the page.
  • Click on “Sign in with your organization portal,” enter “” and hit “Continue.”
  • If you are directed to the Douglas College Centralized Login page, enter your College Network Account (CNA) ID & Password – these are the same credentials you use to log into College computers.
  • If you are directed to the “Welcome to!” page, select “No, I’ve never had an account” to register for an account or “I’ve had an account” if you want to merge your history from a previous account with the Douglas College account.
  • Start exploring!

For tips on getting started, watch this video.

Let’s not love this place to death

Image shows city graphic on white background in black box with text to the right that says: Balancing Act: Revitalization Without Gentrification

By Shaun Tyakoff, instructor, Douglas College, Humanities and Social Sciences
and Peter Hall, instructor, Urban Studies, Simon Fraser University

As academics who live happily in New Westminster, we constantly marvel at our good fortune to live in a city that seems to offer so much to so many different people. It is a city of neighourhoods, with heritage areas that range from colonial estates to now-valuable worker’s bungalows. It has solid rental stock and much-needed social housing, alongside gleaming towers similar to Vancouver. Its schools are public and private, and social services range from employment agencies to yoga studios. Even its rapidly changing waterfront remains a mix of industrial, residential and commercial, and it includes public spaces, such as parks.

By moving here and gaining access to this community wealth – Peter in 2007, Shaun in 2018 – we hope that we’ve also added something to this rich milieu. But did we instead take something away from anyone? In a recent blog post, our colleague, Dr. Rini Sumartojo, asked the following challenging questions about the transformation of New Westminster: “Is it possible to prevent the displacing effects of gentrification that may accompany redevelopment? … And ultimately, what vision is the city crafting, and for whom?”

Did we price out someone who grew up here? Did we subtly change the mix of restaurants, shops or services in ways that others might not welcome? Are we supporting the valued local institutions – the festivals, libraries, small businesses, recreation facilities, waterfront industry and more? Or are we detracting from them because we don’t understand where they came from, and why some residents love them so dearly?

The train clattering, the noise on the Fraser River from the pile-driving machine on an otherwise quiet Sunday morning – these are all reminders that this is shared space and we are the newcomers. It is so tempting to see homeless people with shopping carts around the Salvation Army and Front Street as problems needing solutions. Even small fixes that would make the area just that little bit nicer for strolling and walking the dog in the early evening might inadvertently make those spaces less friendly to others.

The literature on gentrification is vast, and it is multiplying as we recognize new forms of gentrification, which depart from the original definition of gentrification as ‘the gentry’ – or people of high social class – moving into decaying neighbourhoods of single-family homes. These new forms include master-planned gentrification, artist-led gentrification, studentification, eco-gentrification, retail gentrification and more. We are also seeing progressive alternatives to these new forms of gentrification, such as the “just green enough” strategies identified by academics Winifred Curran and Trina Hamilton. These strategies are designed to meet the environmental clean-up and health concerns of local residents, without leading to their displacement.

Our interim conclusion is that to sustain this diverse and inclusive place, we have to do something that humans seem to find incredibly difficult: We have to recognise our own role in changing the city, and we have to keep a vision of the city beyond ourselves in mind at all times. Let’s not love this place to death.

Join the discussion about how to have urban change without displacement at the next Urban Challenges Forum – Balancing Act: Revitilization Without Gentrification, Oct. 17 at the New Westminster Campus in room 2201, 6:30-8pm.

This is a free event and open to the public.