Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Queen's University Queen's University
    Search Type

    Search form

    Campus Community

    Aboriginal student guided by promise to great-grandmother

    Many years ago, Darian Doblej (Artsci’18) made a life-changing promise to his great-grandmother, an elder in Whitesand First Nation in northern Ontario. He assured her that he would protect his younger sisters, who are now 13 and 15.

    Darian Doblej (Artsci’18) comes to Queen's University from Whitesand First Nation in northern Ontario. (Supplied Photo)

    Mr. Doblej, a political studies major at Queen’s, has taken that promise very seriously. He not only wants to protect them – he wants them to have a great future. He wants to make the world a better place.

    “Among my peers on the reserve, I was the only one who graduated high school,” says Mr. Doblej, who identifies himself as northern Ojibwe turned urban Aboriginal. “While I managed to find support, opportunities were scarce. I want my sisters, and all the children at Whitesand, to have greater access to the support – in education and health care, particularly – that will help them achieve their full potential.”

    Mr. Doblej works on keeping his word to his great-grandmother in many ways. He first came to Queen’s through the Aboriginal Access to Engineering Program, but soon realized he could be of more help to his community by studying policy. In addition to his political studies honours degree, he’s pursuing a Certificate in Business through Queens’ School of Business, and he volunteers at Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre.

    But perhaps, most important for improving opportunities for Aboriginal youth at this time, is Mr. Doblej’s work on the Premier’s Council for Youth Opportunities. The group, recently on campus to help announce new provincial funding for youth mentorship, is made up of 25 members, including youth (ages 16-25), young professionals and leaders, appointed to advise Premier Kathleen Wynne and her cabinet on issues affecting youth and how to improve programs and services for youth.

    “Ontario’s Youth Action Plan is especially great at addressing the needs of at-risk youth, and I’m really happy to be engaged in the broader process, of working with key actors and decision-makers in the province,” says Mr. Doblej, who is spending the summer working on Whitesand as a community liaison officer. “It’s shown me, too, that problems exist across many different backgrounds. Racialized youth and newcomer youth, to name a few, face similar challenges as Aboriginal youth, in terms of access to opportunities.”

    Looking ahead, Mr. Doblej has many plans. He is thinking about running for chair of the Premier’s Council, or focusing his leadership activities on campus, running for the position of University Rector. Down the road, he wants to complete a Master of Public Administration. His ambitions don’t stop there – he’s also eyeing a Juris Doctor degree, and potentially, later, a PhD in legal studies or policy studies.

    “The people on my reserve are my motivation and inspiration. Looking at them, and understanding what they’re capable of if they had the right tools is all I need to continue working hard,” says Mr. Doblej, who considers Premier Wynne a great mentor and role model.

    “I want to help them, and part of helping them is creating the best possible opportunities, like access to education, health care, and other basic needs afforded to those who are not defined as ‘at-risk.’ I also want to make sure the cultural life, language and heritage of my community is protected, so they can be proud of who they are, and won’t have to fear how their identity affects them.”

    Kicking and Pushing through summer

    [Kick & Push Festival]
    Dale Tracy, an academic assistant for writing courses offered through the Writing Centre at Queen’s, will be performing in Ambrose, presented by the Single Thread Theatre Company, as part of The Kick & Push Festival. (Supplied photo)

    Student Laila Kharouba (Artsci’17) was planning to head home to Toronto for the summer when she heard about a performance opportunity that made her reconsider her plans.

    Ms. Kharouba, a drama major/film and media minor, learned that local theatre company Blue Canoe was staging A Chorus Line, which tells the story of 17 dancers auditioning for spots in a show on Broadway. She jumped at the opportunity to audition, successfully landing the role of Diana Morales.

    “It has always been a dream role of mine,” says Ms. Kharouba. “To get to play it is sort of unreal.”

    Ms. Kharouba is one of a number of actors, playwrights and other theatre-types – many with ties to Queen’s – who have chosen to stay put in Kingston this summer in order to participate in the city’s newest theatre attraction, The Kick & Push Festival. The festival will see six local theatre companies staging productions over the summer season, both at the Grand Theatre and in other venues around the city. The festival is also offering a series of master classes to nurture local talent.

    “I love the spirit of the festival, and I love how excited the people who are running it are,” says John Lazarus, a playwright and professor in the university’s Department of Drama. Mr. Lazarus is one of seven writers (a number of Queen’s alumni among them) who have contributed short plays to a larger piece called AutoShow (presented by Convergence Theatre), which takes place in and around a number of cars parked in downtown’s Market Square.

    “The first of the seven plays is for the entire audience,” he explains, “and then the audience breaks into groups and each group goes to a different car where they hear a different play.” Mr. Lazarus’s contribution, called Totally Nana’s Ride, tells the story of a love triangle involving three young people. “Actually, it could be a love quadrangle because the car is one of the characters,” he adds.

    For Dale Tracy (PhD’13), participating in the festival has allowed her to stretch herself creatively. Ms. Tracy, an academic assistant for writing courses offered through the Writing Centre, is performing in Ambrose (presented by the Single Thread Theatre Company), a site-specific play that takes audience members behind the scenes at the Grand Theatre in order to tell the tale of the disappearance of theatre tycoon Ambrose Small.

    “I’m an investigator struggling with my failure to solve the case,” says Ms. Tracy, explaining that while she has no formal theatre training, she jumped at the opportunity to develop her skills. “For me as a literary scholar, it has been an interesting way to engage with narrative. I also find that my teaching experience has been helpful because teaching can be very improvisational. Participating in Ambrose has been a different way to engage with people – it’s making me think in new ways.”

    Like Ms. Kharouba and Mr. Lazarus, Ms. Tracy is excited to see the new festival animating the city this summer. “I’m so glad we have these cultural opportunities. It’s been a great thing to be part of.”

    A Chorus Line runs from July 22–25 at the Grand Theatre

    AutoShow runs from July 28 – August 12 at Springer Market Square

    Ambrose runs from August 6–15 at the Grand Theatre

    The Kick and Push Festival also includes the productions Shipwrecked!, Tall Ghosts & Bad Weather, and The Tale of a Town.

    For more information visit The Kick and Push Festival’s website

    Queen's hosts Pita Pit conference

    [Pita Pit]
    Participants in the international conference for restaurant chain Pita Pit take time out for a group photo at Queen’s University. (Queen’s Communications)

    Approxmately 450 Pita Pit franchise owners are on campus this week for a conference marking the restaurant chain's 20th anniversary where Pita Pit was founded, right here in Kingston. The conference is a big event for Queen’s Event Services, which hosts conferences of various sizes throughout the year.

    Campus partners, who also work to keep things running smoothly, include Residence Facilities, Physical Plant Services, Hospitality Services, Residence Technology (ITS), and Athletics and Recreation.

    Hosting such large events is important for Queen’s and Kingston – not only are they showcased, but the university’s role in the community is highlighted.

    Strengthening the research culture

    [Research Mentors Yolande Chan]
    Yolande Chan, Associate Vice-Principal (Research), the Queen’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) leader, says she has seen increased engagement for faculty through the Research Mentors program. (University Communications)

    The Vice-Principal (Research) portfolio is aiming to increase research engagement, collaboration and funding for faculty conducting their research in the social sciences, humanities and the creative arts through a research mentorship pilot initiative.

    While the newly created Research Mentors program definitely has a mentoring aspect, it actually provides much more. The 16 Research Mentors act as leaders in peer review processes for grant applications to improve funding success. They also help to identify potential nominees for awards and research celebrations, like the recent PechaKucha Research Showcase.

    The Research Mentors are mid-career to senior faculty in the social sciences, humanities and the creative arts with a high level of experience and knowledge of the grant application processes. The role is voluntary, and each Research Mentor has the freedom to approach the position differently – but they are all encouraged to start peer review processes in their cognate groups, and to develop awards committees.

    “The early results have been positive,” says Yolande Chan, Associate Vice-Principal (Research), the Queen’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) leader, and an E. Marie Shantz Professor of Management Information Systems in the Queen’s School of Business. “Some mentors are very much on fire and they themselves have been renewed as a result of being part of this program and are now acting in catalytic ways, assisting others.”

    The effects of the Research Mentors can also be seen in the turnout for events such as a recent information session on SSHRC Insight Grant applications where many more people registered than in the recent past. “We are already seeing greater SSHRC engagement,” she says. “The program is designed to strengthen the research culture by creating excitement and a buzz. The Research Mentors are actively promoting, giving visibility to, and celebrating their colleagues’ success.”

    Further information can be found at the Research Mentors webpage. Questions about the program may be directed to Dr. Yolande Chan, Associate Vice-Principal (Research).

    People of Queen's: Finding a new home

    [Edward Nkole]
    Edward Nkole first arrived at Queen’s University from Zambia in 2006 and found support at the Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC). He currently works in the Financial Services department. (University Communications)

    The first thing that Edward Nkole does when he arrives is ask that we move somewhere more comfortable. Together we head to the Queen’s University International Centre (QUIC), where he says hello to the staff and pours himself a mug of tea before we start chatting. Though he now works in the Department of Financial Services at Queen’s, Mr. Nkole first came to Queen’s from Zambia in 2006 to do his undergraduate degree in economics and global development studies. He says QUIC helped him adjust to life in Canada.

    [Queen's in the World]
    Queen's in the World

    “I have a lot of wonderful memories of this place,” he says. “When I came to Queen’s, this is where I was welcomed. I encountered some culture shock when I came to Canada, and it was here that I could find people who could really hear what I said.”

    Before coming to Queen’s, Mr. Nkole worked in Zambia as an accountant but had a strong desire to see more of the world. Both of his older brothers had studied engineering in England, and so he had his mind set on an international education. After what Mr. Nkole refers to as “divine encounters” that led him to making Canadian friends, he started to look at Ontario schools.

    “Queen’s was very responsive and I had an instinctive good feeling about it,” he says. Once he came to Kingston, he got involved with the Queen’s community, volunteering at QUIC, and working as a residence don, as well as with Campus Security and the Education Library on West Campus (“I was working way too many jobs!”). Once his degree was complete, he moved back to Zambia and got married, but soon found himself thinking again about Canada.

    When he and his wife decided to move to Kingston, Mr. Nkole took a job with the Department of Alumni Relations as an administrative assistant. His experience in accounting saw the job evolve into a more financial and merchandising role and he soon migrated to Financial Services, where he now works as a financial analyst. 

    “I look at account trends, see the numbers and explain what’s going on behind the scenes,” he says. “Financial Services tracks what money is going where, why, how we arrived at those numbers and what they mean. All of the projects on campus, from research initiatives to the construction of a new residence, need financing — we make sure they stay on track.”

    With nearly 10 years at Queen’s under his belt, Mr. Nkole is humble about his accomplishments and thankful for the people who helped him along the way.  

    “I’ve been fortunate to find jobs that provided a learning environment here at Queen’s,” he says. “I wanted a challenge, and to expand my knowledge and my experience, I’m glad to have had supervisors who were so interested in my development.”

    Roadwork construction update: July 20-24

    A summary of roadwork activities for the week of July 20.

    • The majority of excavation and pipe work has been completed on Arch Street. Arch Street is now open to traffic at the intersection at Stuart Street and therefore has returned to one-way traffic.
    • Excavation and pipe work is currently taking place in the intersection of George and Stuart Streets. As a result, George Street is no longer accessible from Stuart Street; George Street can be accessed from Okill and King Street West and is open to two-way traffic.
    • Road building work has begun on Arch Street, with crews beginning work on curbs and sidewalks shortly.
    • Crews will be completing paving on George and Okill Streets on Monday, July 20 and Tuesday, July 21 (weather dependent). During this time, on-street parking will not be allowed on George and Okill Streets; any vehicles parked on these streets at the commencement of paving operations will be towed.
    • Private parking lots accessible from George and Okill Streets will have access maintained, but may encounter slight delays for entry or exit due to the movement of paving equipment.

    Chair a first for School of Nursing

    [Elizabeth VanDenKerkhof]
    Elizabeth VanDenKerkhof is the first Sally Smith Chair in Nursing, which was created as part of a $10-million donation to Queen’s by A. Britton Smith and named after his wife Edith “Sally” (Carruthers) Smith. (University Communications)

    Elizabeth VanDenKerkhof is excited about being appointed the Sally Smith Chair in Nursing, but she also knows that there are expectations that come with the position.

    She is the first to hold the chair after all.

    Fortunately, Dr. VanDenKerkhof points out, she isn’t alone in this new journey.

    “It’s exciting but it’s a little bit daunting because I want to be successful and I will because this is a very supportive environment and I have some great colleagues with whom I have worked with over the years, whether it’s research or supervising students,” she says.

    The Sally Smith Chair in Nursing was created as part of a $10-million donation to Queen’s by A. Britton Smith, a continuing supporter of the university. The chair is named after his wife Edith “Sally” (Carruthers) Smith, who died in June 2012 after a courageous battle with cancer. The funding also helped create the Smith Chair in Surgical Research and the Britton Smith Chair in Surgery, as well as to support the revitalization of Richardson Stadium. It represents the largest donation to the School of Nursing in its 74-year history.

    Dr. VanDenKerkhof says the establishment of the chair, to which she was appointed in early June, is a big step for the School of Nursing and will also help boost the university’s reputation in the field.

    “It’s a huge honour for me and I am very lucky but I also feel that this is such a gift for the School of Nursing because it’s the first chair ever here,” she says. “There are other chairs in nursing across Canada but there aren’t a lot of them. So I think for this school to have a chair is significant and really speaks to a number of things, including the support from the Kingston community.”

    As chair, Dr. VanDenKerkhof will be able to move her focus from her teaching responsibilities to her research and taking a closer look at how nursing is evolving.

    Currently, she says, when most people think of nursing, they tend to focus on the acute care sector, taking care of patients in hospitals.

    However, as she notes, nursing, and the health-care sector as a whole, is increasingly reaching further outside the hospital walls, especially as the population ages.

    The Sally Smith Chair will allow her to spend more time looking at the current situation and where nursing, as it expands its scope of practice, is headed in the future.

    “What I think we need to start looking at, and what we are starting to look at, is questions like: ‘What’s my quality of life? How much pain do I have? Am I willing to live with this pain? Is there something that can be done about that?’ It’s not just about surviving an illness,” she says. “And as the population ages, we don’t have the resources to care for everyone in hospital nor is it where most people want to be, especially in their last days, weeks or months of life. Nursing can and does play a major role in shaping what health care may look like in the future.”

    With being able to spend more time outside of the classroom, Dr. VanDenKerkhof says one of her goals is to create stronger connections with the practice setting and help foster further links between researchers in nursing and in health care in general.

    “We already have many collaborations in the School of Nursing but there remain opportunities to link faculty both within nursing and across disciplines. In this way projects can evolve into sustainable programs of research. My goal is to facilitate this process to improve our synergy as researchers,” she says. “I don’t have to necessarily be involved in every study and I don’t have time or the need to be, but I’ve been a faculty member at Queen’s since 2000 at the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine and I joined the School of Nursing in 2004. I started my career in nursing at KGH in 1981, so I know many of the players and I have a good sense of what people do. My hope is to connect people, provide support when needed and make studies happen.”

    The chair should also afford her time to advance her research into the prevention of acute and chronic pain, and use of technology to improve care.

    Excellence in undergraduate teaching recognized

    Each year, the Alma Mater Society (AMS) at Queen’s awards two professors for their outstanding commitment to teaching excellence with the highest honour given by students: the Frank Knox Award for Excellence in Teaching.

    Named for Frank Knox, an economics professor who taught at Queen’s for 40 years, the award serves as a reminder of the need for a strong commitment to a high quality of teaching from professors at Queen’s.

    Dr. Agnès Conacher, French Studies

    A cornerstone of the French Studies program at Queen’s for the past 16 years, Dr. Agnès Conacher establishes a culture of care within each of her classrooms.

    Dr. Conacher came to Queen’s from Australia after completing her PhD nearly two decades ago, and she hasn’t looked back since.

    Reflecting on how times have changed her experience as an educator, Dr. Conacher explains that there have been significant changes in class size and technology that have made it a challenge to maintain a high quality of teaching.

    Dr. Agnès Conacher (French Studies), recipient of
    the 2014-15 Frank Knox Award for Excellence in 

    “These are issues we’ve all had to work through,” she says, “but it is very gratifying to have had some success doing so.”

    That said, Dr. Conacher has worked tirelessly to ensure that her classes have positive and enriching experiences under her leadership.

    She has had such great success fostering positive experiences for her students that many will follow her from first to fourth year, taking each of her classes. She describes this as the greatest thrill of her job, as she gets to watch her students grow as learners and as individuals.

    “I was very flattered and grateful to learn I’d been nominated, and when I found out I’d actually be receiving the award… I was flabbergasted. I can’t believe students took the time to write nice things about me in my nomination”, she smiles.

    When asked what she would want future students to know who have never taken a class at Queen’s, Dr. Conacher says:

    “I’d want future students to know that we care… we care for their welfare, their well-being. In my class, I make sure they are cared for, and then we learn.”


    Dr. Ken Rose, Biomedical and Molecular Sciences

    Trained in Electrical Engineering during his undergraduate degree, Dr. Ken Rose was subsequently “bitten by the neuroscience bug”, in his words. He now has what he describes as a privilege of passing along his knowledge to undergraduate students in Life Sciences.

    When attempting to qualify the secret to his success, Dr. Rose explains that it’s not the what, but the how that’s important to teach.

    In a discipline often crowded with fact memorization, Dr. Rose has found a passion for doing things differently. Two years ago, Dr. Rose decided to create his own essay-style exam in a course where all other sections were doing multiple choice. Dr. Rose likes using experiments as teaching tools wherever it is feasible.

    Dr. Ken Rose, recipient of the 2014-15 Frank Knox Award for
    Excellence in Teaching. 

    “I’m interested in creating independent learners, critical thinkers, and great communicators”, he says. “Students are far more capable than we think they are.”

    Dr. Rose’s infectious energy and unwavering dedication to his students has made him very popular within his classes. It is no coincidence that in the middle of the interview for this article, a student came into his office, visiting him years after having graduated, to say hello and give him a big hug.

    “You do this because you care”, he says.

    When asked what this award means to him, Dr. Rose explained that it reaffirms his faith in changing the way that science education is delivered. “It says do it again, it’s working”, he says. He hopes that it might serve as an impetus for others who might be hesitant to try something new.

    Dr. Rose has a deep personal connection to an award that recognizes excellence in his life’s work, and would like to thank all who spent time nominating him.

    “Students win awards for teachers.” 

    Team to assess sexual assault recommendations

    An implementation team has started reviewing and prioritizing the recommendations made by the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Working Group (SAPRWG) in a recently released report. The team had its first meeting on July 13.  

    “I am very pleased that the implementation team has been formed, and look forward to hearing its thoughts on how we can move forward with the recommendations in a co-ordinated and timely fashion,” says Principal Daniel Woolf. “I thank once again everyone involved in this process for their efforts to date.” 

    The implementation team is responsible for exercising oversight of, and setting priorities and timelines for, implementing the report’s recommendations. More specifically, the team  will: 

    • Determine resource requirements related to each of the recommendations  
    • Assess the budgetary and/or organizational impacts of any new initiatives 
    • Ensure the university is compliant with all government regulations 
    • Evaluate priorities and set realistic timelines for implementation 

    “The Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Working Group made several recommendations in its comprehensive report that the university has been able to begin implementing already, but others require more analysis and consideration with respect to both resources and timelines,” says Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Alan Harrison.  

    The team’s members are: 

    • Chair – Alan Harrison, Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic)  
    • Ann Tierney, Vice-Provost and Dean of Student Affairs 
    • Arig al Shaibah, Assistant Dean, Student Life and Learning 
    • Lon Knox, University Secretary  
    • Irѐne Bujara, University Advisor on Equity and Human Rights (or delegate) 
    • Claire Gummo, Assistant Director of the Sexual Health Resource Centre (student)
    • Kim Murphy, Director, Office of the Vice-Principal (Finance and Administration)
    • Harry Smith, University Ombudsman
    • Secretary – Alexis Vienneau, Associate Director, Office of the Provost

    The implementation team will work in consultation with the SAPRWG and its policy sub-committee. 

    For more information visit the website.  

    Being dean a 'creative time' for Stephen Elliott

    Dr. Elliott steered the Faculty of Education through productive, yet challenging years – and now looks forward to having time to paint.

    Stephen Elliott is a visual artist, but he learned his business sense from his father, who taught business and finance and was an industrial engineer for Chrysler earlier in his career. At Chrysler, it was his father's job to find the most efficient ways to do things on the factory floor.

    “He would routinely do time studies, measuring how fast specific tasks were being completed. He’d bring that home with him and create games for me and my siblings, such as fastening bolts to a matrix,” says Dr. Elliott. “He would time us completing the tasks, and take his findings back to work. These activities left me with a great interest in making things, being creative in my approach and doing things the best and most efficient way possible.”

    It’s this philosophy of doing things efficiently, and creatively, that served him well in his position of dean in the Faculty of Education, a post he held for the past five and a half years and left last month, making way for incoming Dean Rebecca Luce-Kapler.

    Stephen Elliott – seen with his painting, Still Life with Lemon, Pepper, and three Kittys – stepped down from his position as dean of the Faculty of Education last month.

    Dr. Elliott likens his work as dean to a performance arts piece – pulling disparate parts together in a meaningful way to create a meaningful thing.

    “Most of what I did as dean I learned in art school,” says Dr. Elliott, who earned his BFA from Queen’s in 1979, studying printmaking and later working as a master printmaker for noted artists such as André Biéler. “Bringing things together, shaping them — it’s been a great job for me, being dean. I’ve worked with wonderful faculty and staff.”

    Dr. Elliott has steered the faculty through productive, yet challenging years. The faculty faces different challenges than other faculties, he explains, because the province regulates enrolment, tuition and program, and recently mandated the change in structure to undergraduate degrees in education from one year to two. Students in the Consecutive Education program now take four successive semesters, beginning in May and ending in August of the following year.

    “This new program has just begun, but we think it’s going to be great. Most other programs in the province have the break over the summer, but ours is intensive and puts students into the workforce a full eight months before other programs in the province. It’s really intensive – it drives the experience deeper into their souls.”

    In addition to the changes in the BEd program, Dr. Elliott is also proud of the new online master’s program the faculty offers.

    Dr. Elliott never expected to work in administration. After his BFA, he worked as a printmaker for a fine art publisher in Toronto and went on to complete a BEd at Queen’s, leading to a career as a high school art teacher. He received his MEd from Queen’s and a decade later finished a PhD in art in education from Concordia University.

    After teaching in Gananoque for several years, Dr. Elliott came to Queen’s as a professor in 1989. He became the coordinator of the Art in Community Education (ACE) program, and infused the program with his passion for nurturing the arts in education and in the greater community. While teaching in ACE, he often urged students to go into education administration, because the arts are often underrepresented and not well understood in schools.

    “Artists are too busy to waste time in meetings,” he says. “But students need the opportunity to think divergently, differently, and the arts do that. We nurture that.”

    In the end, Dr. Elliott, while urging students to pursue administrative roles, was encouraged to do the same himself. A student asked him, at one point, what he was doing in terms of administration. While he always served on committees and boards, he hadn’t actively pursued an administrative position. As he opened himself to the idea, the position of associate dean of undergraduate studies at Queen’s became available. He put his name in, spent one and a half years in that role before taking on the deanship.

    “I’ve really enjoyed the experience of being dean. It’s been a creative time for me,” says Dr. Elliott, who continued to teach in the ACE program while leading the faculty. “We have the best programs in the province, and moving forward I think the faculty is in a strong position, with excellent people to lead it.”

    Next for Dr. Elliott is a return to painting. He’ll clean out his home studio and see what comes up. The last painting he did before becoming dean used to hang in his office in Duncan McArthur Hall. It’s a still life — a whimsical image of a dog and a table, with a wispy plant sitting in a glass.

    While he’s still a systems-oriented, forward-thinking taskmaster (thanks to his father), he’s looking forward to having the headspace to paint, and to taking a more relaxed approach to his art and life. “I hope I become more playful as I get older,” he says, smiling.






    Subscribe to RSS - Campus Community