Douglas 360°

Fall 2019: A semester in photos

From hosting events like Global Engagement Days and Tech Week, to getting out the vote for the 2019 federal election and our men’s soccer team winning the PACWEST Conference Championship, Fall was a busy time. As we head into the holiday season, we reflect on this semester – in photos.

‘Tis the season for frightful weather

Picture of legs and feet in brown boots, standing in snow

With winter weather on the horizon, it’s time to start preparing for more treacherous road and sidewalk conditions, and using extra caution when commuting to and from campuses.

Campus closures

Douglas College continuously monitors the weather and makes decisions about operations of its campuses with the safety of students and employees as our primary consideration.

If weather takes a turn for the worse and a campus closure seems likely, Douglas will inform the College community prior to 6:30am for morning closures and 2:30pm for afternoon closures.

The College website homepage is the best source for up-to-date information. Information is also available from the College information line (toll-free 1 877 679 0823) and DC Alerts. DC Alerts subscribers get rapid campus closure updates sent via text, email and/or phone messages. Sign up for DC Alerts now.

What happens if the College is open but I’m unable to travel due to severe weather conditions in my area?

Douglas College serves a large and diverse geographic area. We make decisions based on the impacts to the largest portion of our population, but we understand this will never include every student or employee. It is the responsibility of each individual to make decisions about what is safe for them. If this means you are unable to travel to class, please notify your instructor as soon as possible.

Instructors have been requested to consider weather conditions when making decisions about attendance during winter weather. Ultimately, these decisions are the sole discretion of individual instructors. 

Sidewalk conditions

The College takes all precautions to ensure our campuses are safe. We understand sidewalks can be treacherous when icy, so this year we’ve taken the step of meeting with our business neighbours to request they follow city bylaws (New West Bylaw and Coquitlam Bylaw) and clear the sidewalks outside their businesses in a timely fashion. If you feel sidewalk conditions are unsafe, please contact the appropriate city:

Winter weather preparedness tips

  • Allow extra time to get to campus in consideration of travel conditions (vehicle, bus, SkyTrain, etc.)
    • Translink posts service outages and updates on their website.
  • Wear appropriate footwear and winter clothing, especially if regularly moving between the New Westminster Campus and the Anvil Office Tower.
  • If driving, use caution and ensure you have winter tires that are in good condition.
  • If walking, use caution and consider driving conditions, while watching for vehicles (even at crosswalks).

Creative Writing instructor transforms short story into whimsical, yet poignant, graphic novel

By Maia Odegaard, Marketing and Communications

Getting your children to share your interests is a struggle that many parents are familiar with. For award-winning author and Creative Writing Instructor Wayde Compton, this struggle led him to produce his first graphic novel, The Blue Road: a Fable of Migration, illustrated by April dela Noche Milne and published by Arsenal Pulp Press last month.

Wayde Compton

A fairytale for those forgotten

The Blue Road: a Fable of Migration was born out of a short story called “The Blue Road,” part of Wayde’s first book, 49th Parallel Psalm, published 20 years ago. 49th Parallel Psalm is essentially a long-form poem about, in part, the arrival of the first Black community in British Columbia during the gold rush.

“The Black community was different than other communities,” says Wayde. “Many of the early Asian immigrants and the white Americans who came here were single men. But the Black community came under different circumstances. They arrived as one big group; basically, half the population of San Francisco moved in one summer, motivated by fears that California would become a slave state.”

“The Blue Road” was somewhat of a fairytale for the children of this first Black community, whose stories are mostly absent from historical accounts, says Wayde. The protagonist is a young migrant boy who must leave his home and travel north to start a new life.

An old story for a new generation

When Wayde had a child of his own, he was eager to share his writing with her. But he soon realized that the only work of his appropriate for a child was “The Blue Road.” Even so, once he read the story to her, she wasn’t into it. 

“She just switched off. So I stopped, and instead just told her the story from memory, and she liked it. It got me thinking, what was the difference? Why did she enjoy the version I told and not the one I wrote?”

As the 20th anniversary of 49th Parallel Psalm approached, Wayde decided to recreate “The Blue Road” into something his daughter would genuinely enjoy. “I switched the sex of the protagonist, and we did it as a graphic novel because I thought that would be the most accessible, child-friendly version of the story,” says Wayde. He was also very pleased with April’s illustrations, noting that she had a very free hand in interpreting the look of the world in the story.

The Blue Road: a Fable of Migration is the story of Lacuna, a girl without a family, a past or a community. She lives alone in an ink-filled swamp until one day an angry will-o’-the-wisp evicts her and she embarks on a harrowing journey to the fabled Northern Kingdom, where she hopes to discover a community. The only way for Lacuna to reach her destination is by following the Blue Road, a path not without its own trials, including the treacherous Thicket of Tickets and a persnickety guard at the Rainbow Border.

When Lacuna finally reaches her destination, she encounters a whole new set of obstacles unique to those not born in the Northern Kingdom. While she is happy to have found a society, she soon learns that being human isn’t enough to be welcomed and instead, she must get creative to survive in unfamiliar territory. Eventually, Lacuna learns that leaving, arriving and returning are all just different words for the same thing: starting over again.

History repeating

The story of Lacuna’s migration and all of the seemingly insurmountable obstacles she faces along the way – including the border guard who informs her that without a “ticket,” the only way to cross is by doing the limbo under a line painted on the road – are timeless.

“People ask if I wrote this because of what’s taking place now, but this was happening 20 years ago, and 20 years before that and 20 years before that. It highlights how perennial the issues of international migration and xenophobia are as part of the background to life here,” says Wayde. 

The reviews are in

It took roughly one year to complete The Blue Road: a Fable of Migration, and while its most influential reader could have had a sneak peak, she wouldn’t take the bait.

“She was scrupulous!” says Wayde of his daughter. “I tried tempting her with pieces of it, but she was like, ‘Nope, I want to see it when it’s a book.’ And so when I finally got a physical copy, I gave it to her.  She took it straight into her room and read the whole thing in one sitting. When she came out, she said she really liked it.”

About the author

Wayde Compton teaches Creative Writing at Douglas College and is the author of four books, one graphic novel and the libretto for an opera about the College’s namesake, Sir James Douglas, and is the editor of two anthologies. He is the co-founder of Commodore Books, Western Canada’s first Black Canadian literary press, and has been writer-in-residence at SFU, Green College at UBC and the Vancouver Public Library.

Meet the Douglas instructor who is starting conversations surrounding equity and washrooms

By Marie Del Cid-Luque, Marketing and Communications

Jaime Yard is on a mission to spread gender awareness across Douglas College. For starters, the Cultural Anthropology professor wants to get people to think more openly about inclusive spaces and how the world around us can play a part in promoting gender equity.

“All around us we see gendered work places, gendered family roles, gendered fields of study, and, as an anthropologist, there’s this talk about trying to pay attention to not only what people say, but also what people do,” says Jaime. “Being a person in the world, you can’t help but notice the differences between what we say about gender and what we’re actually doing and making possible on an everyday basis in everyday spaces.”

Jaime explains that as a society, we talk a big game about being inclusive and accepting of non- conventional gendered roles, however, we don’t always practise what we preach.

“We know if you’re a female going into a STEM field, for example, you’re going to find fewer people who look like you in mentorship roles and in your classes. You might face more hesitance to your ideas in group work, or more questions about your knowledge and performance because of longstanding cultural biases that encouraged more men than women to pursue STEM careers,” says Jaime. “So, thinking about gender, we confront a difference between how the world actually is and the hopeful messages saying you can be whatever you want to be. If we don’t think critically about the challenges and constraints people actually face, we aren’t setting people up to succeed.”

A gender-neutral washroom sign at Douglas College
Jaime and her students noted the lack of accessible and inclusive washroom facilities around the College.

Building inclusive spaces

Jaime says we need to start thinking more critically by asking ourselves, “what are some of the more insidious ways in which things are gendered?” This kind of thinking is what gave way for Jaime and her Anthropology of Gender and Sexuality class to begin the conversation about converting single-stall washrooms at Douglas to gender-neutral washrooms. Her class conducted a social and spatial audit of College facilities a few years ago to determine how accessible and inclusive the Campus was for non-binary and transgender students.

“One of the most basic equity issues in any work place is ensuring that people’s basic biological needs are met, and students overwhelmingly noted that the washroom facilities were inadequate,” says Jaime.

Jaime notes that gender-neutral single-stall washrooms meet a wide range of on-campus needs: for a parent with a small child who is potty training or for a diabetic student who needs a private space to administer their insulin.

“There are many different reasons why a person might need a closed space on campus. We might not have the same reasons, but it’s the same need for a space to attend to private matters,” says Jaime.

Visit the Anthropology page for more information regarding our program.

Starting a “calmversation”: how one Douglas alum is changing the face of education

By Carly Whetter, Foundation and Alumni Relations

On Sept. 10, 2001, Jena Sharma – known to her students as Miss Jena – started a job as an Urgent Interventionist at the Vancouver School Board, a role in which she supports schools in addressing disruptive student situations. The next day, two planes crashed into the World Trade Centre towers in New York City. It changed the way she viewed the world.

“Overnight, everything shifted,” says Jena, a graduate of the Douglas College Child and Youth Care program. “In that moment it really landed that I was responsible for the delivery of education. I couldn’t help but think about how these terrorists were once children and that there must have been something missing in schools to cause something like that to happen. But at the same time, the kids in my own school had questions, and how do you explain something you yourself don’t understand?”

A changed perspective

Jena’s changed perspective on education eventually led her to create calmversation, a compassion- and communication-driven education program for students in K-12. She felt so strongly about the program that she cashed out her pension to create it.

“calmversation was designed to help children learn how to communicate their questions, understand how they create and think, and inform their teachers of what supports and what interferes with their learning,” she says. “The lower case ‘c’ is intentional. Each letter in calmversation stands for something, and I didn’t want to give the impression that any letter or meaning is greater than another.”

Missy Jena, ready to take on the education world.

Taking a leap for education

The seeds for calmversation sprouted from Jena’s own childhood. Although she was a “smart kid,” there were many things about school that didn’t make sense to her.

“A child that experiences school without understanding why they have to do certain things will not be as engaged – and I wasn’t,” she says.

Despite being unsure about what to do after high school, Jena knew she wanted to work with kids.

“I wanted to help them learn how to express themselves and make a difference for them. Stepping into the Child and Youth Care program at Douglas became the access point for everything that has happened in my life since then,” she says. “One of the assignments we had consisted of circles that outlined how one child is connected to all these different things. It was exercises like these that really made me want to understand what we can do to support children in those formative years so they can make decisions that help them become proactive members of society, global citizens and difference makers.”   

Taking the world by storm

Since the inception of calmversation, Jena’s been taking the education world by storm. She spoke at TEDxSFU, won several Toastmasters awards and most recently, became a published author. She contributed to Voices of the 21st Century: Bold, brave and brilliant women who make a difference*[WCE3] , whichlaunched exactly 18 years after her first day at the Vancouver School Board andbecame a triple bestseller overnight.  

While her list of accomplishments is impressive, she isn’t even close to being done.

“In 2015, when I put it all on the line to create this program, I told myself I was going to focus my sights on one really big goal, and that was to make a difference in one billion children’s lives. No matter how many times I get knocked down, I will get up. I’ve got my eyes set on the Nobel Peace Prize.”

Are you an alum looking to share your story? Contact us at  

* Jena’s book will be available soon at both Coquitlam and New Westminster campus bookstores

TR grads use therapeutic recreation to help kids with disabilities improve their quality of life

By Marie Del Cid-Luque, Marketing and Communications

Giving back to the community through volunteer work led two Douglas students, Danielle Barrett and Kelsey Merritt to design an entire adaptive soccer program, get college credit for their Bachelor of Therapeutic Recreation program and to top it off, help children and youth with disabilities in a purposeful way.

“It has been an incredible experience learning new skills on how to work with people of all ages and abilities. It can get very intense at times as it is a very hands on program, but when you are passionate about something it makes it easier to put everything you have into it” Kelsey says about the TR program at Douglas.

As a result, both women became interested in volunteering with the Port Moody Soccer Club – Adaptive Soccer Program, after they saw a volunteer recruitment ad. Kelsey and Danielle have been playing soccer for 20 years, which made this opportunity a great fit. As the Adaptive Soccer program became more popular, they later became coaches, more kids started to sign up, and the program enrollment expanded through word of mouth.

Children at the Adaptive Soccer program are between the ages of 6-16. The program welcomes children of all disabilities. The specialized programming adapts to the needs of the children and is ever changing to meet the kids where they are at. “Many of these children have difficulty processing instructions and performing. We have to adapt our techniques to their individual levels and provide one-on-one support,” says Kelsey.

The Douglas spark

TR grads, Kelsey Merritt (left) and Danielle Barrett (right) both wanted to find work that was meaningful and helpful for others.

The need for this one-on-one support drove the two Douglas students to bring in more classmates to help with the adaptive program. Teri Shaw, the director of the Adaptive Soccer Program in Port Moody, reached out to the Douglas Therapeutic Recreation coordinator to see if there was a way to develop the adaptive program any further. “There is a lot of demand, but the program requires volunteers and a safe, confined space,” says Teri. It was suggested that both Kelsey and Danielle work on a project for their 4th year Management course, which includes marketing and planning. In other words, letting them present and develop an entire successful training program for the club.

“Douglas gave us the ability to design the program. This was a meaningful way to use soccer to help kids who don’t have the opportunity to play mainstream soccer,” says Danielle. “We completed a marketing plan on how to work with the community to gain participants and identify opportunities to make the program grow.”

Danielle and Kelsey continue to remain involved as coaches with the Port Moody Adaptive program while holding down jobs, Kelsey is the Program Coordinator at West Coast Kids Cancer Foundation, and Danielle is a Recreation Therapist at Enable Occupation Therapy.

“Our degrees have set us up for success and the success of the adaptive soccer program is a real testimony. There is still a lot to learn, but we are ready and capable of jumping in,” says Danielle.

Want to learn more about our Therapeutic Recreation program? Register for a free information session.

Four reasons why you should not miss Tech Week Oct. 28-30

Discover all the awesome technology available to you at Douglas College. Plus, get a chance to win a laptop, Apple AirPods and more.

At Douglas College, there are multiple technologies and services available to you. Find out all about them at Tech Week Oct. 28-30 at both campuses.

A lot of things are taking place during Tech Week 2019. Check out the event schedule to learn more!

Here are four reasons why you should not miss this event:

  1. Explore all the basic and cutting-edge educational technologies available to you at Douglas: There are 14 technology booths – Virtual Reality, 3D printing, IT support services including myAccount, password resets, and booths that will help you explore online educational resource portals like Blackboard and LinkedIn Learning. These resources provide you with a simpler, faster and more personalized educational experience.
  2. Prizes, prizes and more prizes: Register at Eventbrite for the Cybersecurity talk by Gary Perkins on Oct. 28, for a chance to win Apple AirPods! At the technology booths Oct. 29 and 30, you’ll also have a chance to win a laptop, Bookstore credit and more!
  3. Share your questions and suggestions:  Tech Week is an opportunity for you to meet with IT support services team and representatives from other College departments, such as the Registrar’s Office and Accessibility Services. This is your chance to get close to these departments and have your usual questions and concerns answered. You can also share suggestions on tools and technologies you would like to see at Douglas to enhance your learning experience.
  4. Interactive and engaging: Find out how cybersmart you are with the Cybersecurity quiz, and try your hand at 3D printing and Blackboard technologies. Every booth will have something interesting and interactive in store for you. Have we mentioned prizes?

Tech week is open for all students, employees and faculty. Participate and you will have a chance to win exciting prizes. Don’t miss out!

In his element: an alum’s journey from chemistry to clippers

By Carly Whetter, Foundation and Alumni Relations
Photos courtesy of Barber & Co.

When Jamie Stanton was earning his Chemistry diploma at Douglas College, he never thought he’d end up working in a lab at a barbershop.

“I thought I would be specializing in waste water management,” he says. “But then I realized I wanted to be in a lab and researching. I don’t think it matters if my lab is in a barber shop or if it’s in a university or if it’s in its own multi-million dollar facility. I’m still doing what I love to do,” he says.

There’ll be no mad scientist hair in this lab.

Jamie has been working at Barber & Co., an environmentally conscious barbershop in Vancouver’s Yaletown, since early this year. As the barbershop’s only chemist, Jamie is in charge of research, product development and testing.

Ultimately, he focuses on producing high quality, environmentally sustainable products – like their matte pomade and forthcoming aftershave tonic – for barbers and clients alike. “A lot of products can have toxic chemicals in them and there’s not enough consumer education on why these ingredients can be harmful. Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of research into natural preservation systems. We don’t use any perfume or any artificial scents or fragrances, only essential oils because they have medicinal benefits,” he says.

Building blocks for success

Jamie applied to Douglas College on the recommendation of a family friend and began his studies in 2009. He applied his academics to a co-op work term at ALS Environmental as a lab assistant, where he also conducted an independent research project.

Jamie, mixing up a batch of sustainable hair products.

He says the education, skills and experience he received at Douglas continue to benefit him. But mostly, it was about the people. “My education at Douglas was so valuable because I was able to form relationships with my instructors. The whole chemistry department was just fantastic and was super beneficial in forming the chemist I am today,” says Jamie.

Doing what he loves

After two years at Douglas, Jamie transferred his credits to Thompson Rivers University to complete a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. He plans to eventually pursue his PhD. Until then, he hopes to continue to grow as a chemist at Barber & Co. “This job has taught me a lot about doing what you love and what that looks like in your own life. I’ve realized that going into the lab every day isn’t work – I get to do what I want to do. Every single day is fun.” 

Are you ready for the Big One?

By Safety, Security and Risk Management

You’re working at your desk when suddenly the room begins to sway and shake. It’s an earthquake. What do you do?

On Oct. 17, in an effort to prepare for a potential earthquake, Douglas College students, employees and visitors can take part in the Great British Columbia ShakeOut – a province-wide earthquake drill – at both campuses.

“Seismic experts tell us that we can expect a major destructive earthquake in B.C.,” says Nancy Constable, Director of Safety, Security and Risk Management. “We don’t know when it might hit. This drill is about practising how to protect ourselves when it does.”

Get ready to drop, cover and hold on

On Oct. 17 at 10:17am, an announcement will inform people on campus when the drill begins. When you hear the announcement, carefully drop to the ground, take cover under a desk or table, and hold on. If you are not near a desk or table, or are physically unable to drop, cover and hold on, cover your head and neck with your arms and crouch in a corner, away from any glass. The drill will last around 90 seconds. You will be advised when it is over.

This could save your life

Constable says it’s crucial people are prepared to take the correct action in an earthquake.

“This is about how to take that immediate life-saving, injury-reducing action. In a small or moderate quake you may hear objects rattling in your office or classroom, or feel a quiver under your feet. In a large quake, the ground or floor will move – possibly violently – and you may feel dizzy and unable to walk. You will probably feel shaking and rolling,” she says. “You need to drop, cover and hold on.”

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Here are 4 ways you can be cyber smart

By Shruti Ashok, Centre for Educational and Information Technology

With evolving technology comes evolving hackers. Did you know that weak passwords is the easiest way for hackers to gain access to your personal information? Did you know that 60 percent of consumers think using public Wi-Fi is riskier than using a public restroom?

Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility and it is important for us as a community, to be informed, aware and responsible, about the simple things we can do in our power to stay cyber safe and cyber smart.

Cybersecurity matters, not just on campuses, but also homes and while accessing websites and managing personal data on public networks.

4 ways you can be cyber smart

1. Passwords

Cybersecurity starts with strong password protection. Update your passwords regularly and use unique, strong and complex passwords for every account that you maintain. Don’t reuse your passwords between sites and systems.

  • Elements that make a strong password:
    • 10-20 characters
    • Combination of uppercase and lowercase letters
    • Include numbers and symbols
    • Don’t choose obvious passwords (e.g. Password, 123456 & replacements like ‘@’ instead of ‘a’)
    • Don’t choose passwords that can be found easily in the dictionary (any language)

2. Wi-Fi

Everyone loves public Wi-Fi! Hackers do, too. Open networks leave your data at risk, so in order to stay safe, only use secure Wi-Fi networks.

You should only perform financial transactions and other sensitive transactions, i.e. those that requires sharing your passwords and personal information, when you have a secured internet connection.

3. USBs

Don’t plug and play. If you see a USB device lying around on campus, do NOT plug it into your computer to see what’s on it. Turn it in to Campus Security.

Don’t use the same USB devices for home and College computers as you could run the risk of contaminating computers. If the device is malicious, it can install malware such as backdoor Trojans (a type of malware that can enable access for a remote hacker), information stealers and more.

4. Phishing

Think before you click – phishing emails are no longer just a message with bad grammar, they’re getting more and more sophisticated. Clicking on a link or opening an attachment in an email, even when it is from someone you know, can give an attacker full control of your device and passwords. Never hit “reply” if the email seems suspicious to you in any way. If you know the sender, you should check with them to make sure the link is safe.

Do not click on links embedded in emails directly. Instead, hover your mouse over it, and take a moment to check the URL address. Sometimes the link will take you to a different page with identical design and before you know it your device is already hacked.

Take the time this October to get informed about cybersecurity and be sure to follow us on Instagram, @douglascollege to participate in the upcoming password strength contest for a chance to win $500 tuition credit!