VIU Scholarship, Research, and Creative Activity

2020 President's Awards for Community Engagement Recipients

President’s Awards for Community Engagement for 2020

Community University Partnership Award

This award recognizes a mutually beneficial partnership between an Employee or group of Employees of VIU and an external community, organization, or agency. Aligned with the vision and mandate of both partners, this award recognizes new, innovative, and measurable outcomes and/or practice(s).

Recipient: Dr. Nadine Cruickshanks and Heather Pastro, Faculty of Education -   Nominated by Dr. Rachel Moll

Dr. Nadine Cruickshanks has been an educator for over 35 years.  She has taught throughout Canada and beyond - including Swaziland, Costa Rica, South Korea, Belize, and India.  Nadine completed an Earth Charter Master’s course at UPEACE University (Costa Rica) and co-developed various programs, courses, and diplomas related to Global Education, Breaking Barriers, United Notions, and Sustainability. Working with Quw’utsun Elders provide Nadine mentorship in her role in the Truth and Reconciliation calls to action

Heather Pastro, Executive Director of the BC Art Teacher’s Association, member of the Canadian Society for Education through Art and the National Art Education Association, is a passionate advocate for art education. Highlights in her 39-year teaching career include developing global art exchanges, coordinating international children’s art exhibitions, and planning provincial and national conferences. Her recent research is in visual literacy, which she deems a critical component to deeper learning and understanding in art education.

Community Leadership Award

This award recognizes a VIU Employee who demonstrates significant leadership in the community(ies) that are served by VIU. This award recognizes contributions that further community priorities and enhance the reputation of VIU.

Recipient: Kim Fraser, Faculty of Health and Human Services -   Nominated by Dr. Patricia O’Hagan

Kim’s nursing career began 24 years ago as a Registered Psychiatric Nurse working in Vancouver BC in city and rural settings, and discovered a passion for the change in the approaches to providing care to persons experiencing chronic or persistent mental health and substance use challenges. Kim embraced the Psychosocial Rehabilitation philosophy where she assisted persons to obtain independence and recovery from mental illness and addictions. Kim expanded her learning and expertise and completed her education as a Registered Nurse working in medical and surgical settings in order to combine her dual nursing backgrounds and expertise. Kim’s interest in providing specialized nursing services to persons in the BC communities expanded to supporting students in practice in hospital, facility and community settings. Kim completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychiatric Nursing and is currently working at completing a Masters Degree in Educational Leadership through Vancouver Island University.

Many opportunities presented over the years to work in remote areas of BC and Alberta as Kim’s nursing career expanded, and allowed Kim to gain more insights into working in Aboriginal communities and in more remote communities such as Dawson Creek BC, Grande Prairie AB and Hornby Island BC. Kim’s teaching career is expansive and has provided many opportunities to work in several health programs including Health Care Assistant, Community Mental Health Worker, Practical Nursing and Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs in BC and Alberta.

My current casual work on Vancouver Island as a Registered Nurse/Registered Psychiatric Nurse at Vancouver Island Mental Health Society and as an instructor for Stenberg College gave Kim tremendous insight into community needs for mental health support and health service programs. Kim also cherishes the work in the position of the Chair for the Health Care Assistant programs at Vancouver Island University and enjoys working with the VIU team, faculty, students and central Vancouver Island community leaders. Kim will continue to pursue the expansion of HCA programs in order to meet the demands for Health Care Assistants on Vancouver Island.

Community Outreach Award

This award recognizes a VIU Employee who demonstrates excellence in outreach activity in the community(ies) that are served by VIU.  This award recognizes those who share or translate their knowledge in any medium (presentations, workshops, videos etc.) to the benefit of the community.

Recipient: Leslie Sundby, Faculty of Health and Human Services -   Nominated by Dr. Patricia O’Hagan

Leslie Sundby is currently the Chair of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Program at Vancouver Island University (VIU) in Nanaimo BC. She oversees 288 students and approximately 50 full-time and sessional faculty across the four-year BSN degree program. Leslie is responsible for day-to-day operations of the program as well as strategic planning.

Through active engagement in a number of committees, Leslie advocates for a quality nursing program. She is a member of VIU Senate, Educational Standards Committee, Curriculum & Evaluation Committee, and Faculty Council of Health & Human Services. She is also engaged provincially as a member of Nursing Education Council of BC (NECBC), Nursing Education Planning Council (NEPC), and the Provincial Nursing Network.

Leslie embraces a shared leadership philosophy whereby she matches faculty members’ passion with their teaching assignment and engagement in scholarly activity in order to build leadership capacity. She role models leadership from a place of respect, collaboration, courage, humility, and inclusiveness. She has an ‘open door’ policy and welcomes students, staff and faculty to engage in conversations. She takes her work seriously, but also believes there is a place for laughter and humour in the workplace!

Leslie has worked extensively with VIU’s Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning (CIEL) and co-led a curriculum alignment process that resulted in the creation of BSN course learning outcomes, better levelling of courses from one semester to the next, and a clear ‘curriculum road map’ that helped guide students and faculty as they came to understand our curriculum. Leslie and CIEL created the first ‘BSN Student-Faculty Partnership’ that brought students and faculty together with shared voice to identify and address areas for improvement within the BSN program.

Leslie teaches on a local, provincial, national and international level. She is an active member of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada (SOGC) and teaches Advanced Labour and Risk Management (ALARM) nationally and internationally. She also teaches ENPC Emergency Nurses Pediatric Course (ENPC), Electronic Fetal Monitoring (EFM) and Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP).

Leslie is a passionate instructor and has taught theory courses (Global Health and Leadership) and supervised students in the perinatal and pediatric clinical areas drawing from her 30+ years’ experience.

Prior to working at VIU, Leslie held a number of senior administrative roles at the local hospital (Director of Child, Youth & Family Services, Perinatal Educator, and Quality Improvement Consultant). Using this experience, Leslie has bridged and strengthened relationships between university faculty and hospital administrators and staff to gain a shared understanding of how best to support and advocate for quality student learning while appreciating the challenges of the very busy health care environment.

Community Engaged Scholarship, Research and Community Engagement Award

This award recognizes a VIU Employee who engages in scholarly activity, research or creative practice involving an external community, organization or agency.  This award recognizes the development of new knowledge, scholarly activity and/or creative practice in the benefit of both the discipline of the Employee and the community involved.

Recipient: Dr. Louise Stern, Faculty of Health and Human Services - Nominated by Dr. Patricia O'Hagan

Louise worked as a gerontological social worker in a number of different health and community care settings for 20 years when she decided to pursue her PhD with a focus on older adults, aging and dementia care. Her dissertation explored the intersection of culture and dementia care in a long term care facility. After graduating with her PhD, she was lucky to get a position in the VIU social work program just as they started up their new online BSW program. Her grounding in social work practice has informed her teaching, research and educational interests. Since coming to VIU in 2013 – she has been able to apply these interests into her teaching, her work, and research interests – as well as developing a few more along the way.

Since its launch in 2013, the BSW has built on the success of the long-running Social Services Diploma program – and with its growth came more faculty and the development of an amazing team. It was a steep learning curve and through it she learned how new modalities of teaching and learning, and all the technological challenges that went along with it. In January 2017, she became program chair and has enjoyed this new role while still staying connected to the students and her love of teaching.

Indigenous Engagement Award

This award recognizes a VIU Employee who has respectful and positive relations with an Indigenous community, agency, or organization.  The award recognizes the importance of relations in deepening VIU’s commitment to Truth and Reconciliation and the implementation of the UNDRIP.


Recipient: Fiona Meyer Cook, Faculty of Health and Human Services - 
Nominated by Dr. Patricia O’Hagan 

Fiona Meyer Cook began working for VIU’s Department of Social Work in 2017. She is the mother of 12-year old Isabela, and is of Anishinaabe, Scottish and underground railroad descent. She is also an adopted member of the Eyahpaise family from Beardy’s & Okemasis in Saskatchewan. Fiona brings a wealth of experience in direct practice, research and policy work to VIU. She has taught graduate and undergraduate social work courses at Carleton University and supervised practicum students at McGill. Fiona brings knowledge of Indigenous and International socio-economic justice issues to her teaching. Her recent research focuses on Indigenous food sovereignty, ecology and environmental social work. She also has over 15 years of direct experience in crisis intervention, mental health, gender violence, youth group work, HIV, prevention/support and Two-Spirit /LGBTQ advocacy and community organizing. Fiona’s research and policy work includes work for the Native Women’s Association of Canada, the North-South Institute, the Canadian Council for International Co-operation, Status of Women Canada and Peru’s Gender and Economy Group. She represented EGALE Canada at the United Nations World Conference against Racism, Xenophobia and other forms of Discrimination. She has presented her research on the overincarceration of Indigenous women and girls to the Senate committee on Aboriginal Affairs, and spent four years in Peru working with organizations dedicated to eradicating poverty and advancing rural agro-ecology.

Since moving to the Island and joining VIU, Fiona has worked to develop relationships with several mid Island Indigenous service organizations and community workers, who are dedicated to supporting the resurgence of Coast Salish food practices, while reducing food insecurity. She also designed the Spoken Letters project to help break down the 4th wall in education by actively engaging VIU students in responding authentically to contemporary issues of importance to Indigenous Peoples, and indeed to all Canadians. In 2019, she received a VIU teaching award for design, on the basis of this. At the same time, Fiona remains actively engaged as a board member of Peace Brigades International-Canada (Pbi). In the fall of 2019, she helped organise a Pbi tour of three Colombian human rights defenders (HRD’s), to Canada, which included a public talk at VIU, and the accompaniment of the defenders to several nonpartisan meetings. Fiona has also remained an active member of the Social Policy and Advocacy Committee of the Canadian Association of Social Work Educators (CASWE), she sits on the scientific committee of the International Conference on Social Work and Sexualities, and is a member of the Thunderbird circle of Indigenous social work academics, where she develops alliances with others across the country. Fiona loves her work at VIU, and is grateful every day to the team, who makes it all possible.

International Engagement Award

This award recognizes a VIU employee who demonstrate excellence in international engagement.  This award recognizes mutually beneficial partnerships or research projects that enhance student engagement, training opportunities for VIU students, or international outreach activities in any medium (presentations, workshops, videos etc.).

Recipient: Dr. Suzanne de la Barre, Faculty of Management - Nominated by Joanne Schroeder 

Suzanne de la Barre, PhD, works with local, national, and international community-based creative and cultural organizations, and her research focusses on the circumpolar world and economic diversification.

She has led VIU’s involvement in a Nordic Council of Ministers project in Arctic tourism, is Co-Director, World Leisure Centre of Excellence, founding program developer with the University of the Arctic’s Graduate Certificate in Northern Tourism and in leadership with the International Polar Tourism Research Network.

Recipient: Stephen Javorski, Faculty of Health and Human Services - Nominated by Dr. Patricia O’Hagan

Stephen is currently a professor in the Child and Youth Care department at Vancouver Island University. He has over 20 years of experience working with youth and young adults as a facilitator, guide, program manager, and counsellor. He has a master’s in Transpersonal Counselling Psychology with a Wilderness Therapy specialisation from Naropa University. He is currently completing his PhD in Outdoor Experiential Education with a focus on Outdoor Behavioural Healthcare (OBH) at the University of New Hampshire. Stephen’s research interests include risk management and predictors of clinical change in OBH programs. He is a research associate for the Outdoor Behavioural Healthcare Centre and the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and programs, and an active member of the International Adventure Therapy Council, currently serving as one of two National representatives.

Stephen has always had a passion for the outdoors, and believes in the transformational power of intentional wilderness experiences for children youth and families. He believes that sharing and learning about the intersection of wilderness and health across cultures creates deep opportunities for learning and can help developing Human Services professionals learn innovative skills that will help them better serve their future clients.