‌Human Library Display and Event

Chilliwack: Fall 2016 and Winter 2017

 Human library poster advertising our event on Wednesday, March 15, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the atrium outside the Chilliwack library.

Have you ever wondered if you were a book what your title would be?

Our mission in collecting “books” for our human library is to present unique experiences that challenge people's understanding of stereotypes and educate people on diversity. Our criteria is that the people in our living library live or work within UFV’s catchment area and that the topics presented or the people involved have some connection to UFV and its objectives. What’s your story? We can’t wait to hear it.

We will be holding a human library event on the Chilliwack campus on Wednesday, March 15. Stay tuned for details.

To nominate yourself or someone else, apply now.

Venerable Yin Kit (Sister Jessie), a Buddhist nun who teaches meditation to federal inmates, chose Bringing Me Home as her book title.

human library Buddhist nun

"Outwardly, I appear out of time and out of place.  As a fully ordained Buddhist nun, I wear long brown robes, and shave my head.  I follow teachings that have been passed down from monastic to monastic for over 2500 years, from the original teacher, the Buddha.  I have taken a vow of poverty and follow 348 precepts (rules for monastic living).  These life choices link me firmly to the past and to time honored traditions most people in the West are unfamiliar with.

However, I also use an i-phone, use a laptop to check my Facebook account on a daily basis, travel the world continuously to teach and serve, and all my students know how much I enjoy a Dilly Bar on a hot day.

How do these two seemingly dissimilar worlds fit together? A monastic strict tradition guides my spiritual life and serve as daily reminders to me of my choice to serve others the whole of my life.  However, I live here and now and need to be up to date and relevant to this world here and now.  Once people see past my outward image, I hope they see someone who has much to offer that is relevant to their everyday lives.  Mindfulness, compassion and harmonious living are the cornerstones of my faith, but can serve all people regardless of their beliefs."

UFV Social, Cultural and Media Studies Assistant Professor Darren Blakeborough chose You Can't Judge a Book by its Cover as his book title.

"I have a wide array of interests and have a varied personal, as well as academic, background. From heavy metal to aging, from pro wrestling to homelessness, my research covers the gamut and in my estimation anyway, is all important if not for different reasons. I am unaware of anyone that would meet me for the first time and think University Prof and frankly that works to my advantage as I get to challenge people's assumptions of the common sense immediately out of the gate."

Elaine Malloway, next Chief of Yakweakwioose First Nation in Chilliwack, chose Rise from Ashes as her book title.

Elaine Malloway Yakweakwioose First Nation

Raised where women were conditioned just to be “housewives.” Survived an abusive marriage with three children and eight grandchildren. Had to pick myself up and find employment. Took Office Careers at UCFV and that has been saving grace for me to find jobs. Now a blended family totaling seven children and 14 grandchildren. I have been chosen by my father to be the next “hereditary Chief” of my band and is a another huge responsibility for the rest of my life. Sad and happy tears as that means my Dad is in his next phase of life that I do not look forward to. He is healthy right now but you just never know what the next day brings. 

Shirley Hardman, Senior Advisor on Indigenous Affairs, chose Shxwha:yathel as her book title.

Shirley Swelchalot Shxwha:yathel Hardman has many life experiences that have taught her many things. She always generously shares these things with others. Shirley has experienced Indigenous issues from various perspectives. She has experienced racism, oppression, single-parenthood, adoption, has been a foster-parent, has experienced both failure and success, has suffered numerous losses, has helped others find healing, has traveled in exchanges with other Indigenous peoples, held a job as a ditch digger, a baker, an administrative clerk, an alcohol and drug counsellor, a family violence prevention worker, is an advocate for social justice, is an educator, and is now the Senior Advisor of Indigenous affairs. Most importantly Shirley is a storyteller. She tells stories about life today and long ago but she insists that as the listener you are not peering at her or the other protagonists but at yourself — the stories she tells whether traditional or contemporary always inform the listener about themselves.

Astrid Beugeling chose Theatre in Chilliwack as her book title.

Astrid Beugeling, Human library

Astrid Beugeling has been involved in scrapbooking the Chilliwack Players Guild’s history since the 1970s. At that time it was mostly keeping track of our newspaper articles, photos, etc. During the years I was away at university, others took over. I picked it up again about 10 years ago but only briefly doing some basic archiving etc. I have a document that includes posters, programs, photos going back to the 1950s. I have also transcribed some cassette tapes of interviews that were recorded many years ago by one of our life members and have had cassette tapes digitized from radio plays from the 50s produced by our local radio station, directed and performed by members of our guild. One of our members has archived many of our shows on our web site and we work closely together. We have been researching the archived newspaper articles that are now on the internet and have found interest in theatre and opera in this community since the 1900s. My intentions are to digitize all of our ‘older’ scrapbooks and eventually print out the history of community theatre in Chilliwack.

Kulwant Gill, UUP Instructional Assistant, chose Dying to Live as her book title.

Kulwant Gill, Human library

I have faced racism as a new immigrant and overcome many stereotypes of what was expected of me as a female. Challenging the age-old patriarchal beliefs was not easy, and still continues to be a struggle in some areas of my life. However, I feel empowered today as a result of my own experiences and struggles. My goal is to inspire other women to follow their dreams, and to live life own their own terms.

As the third female child born into a culture that favours males, and expects females to behave in ways that bring honour to the family, I lived my life in a bubble. Dating was out of the question, let alone talking to the opposite gender. Even hanging out with my girlfriends after school, or on weekends and playing sports was not allowed. Heaven forbid, I might pick up some "western" ideas and become "corrupt." So, I abided by all the expectations my parents had set out for me. But inside, I was dying. I had an arranged marriage, despite objections from my brother and others as to the suitability of my husband to be.

Fast forward to my early thirties: I am now on the verge of leaving my husband. The relationship is unhealthy and abusive. How do I leave my marriage when I am expected to stay with this man, no matter what? On top of this, I have a young child now. Single parenting? No way! What would people think? And think about your family and the shame it would bring to them?

Again, I was dying inside. I was tired of living in a bubble as the real world was not always nice. It was full of gossip, hatred, lies. One can only imagine what I would have to endure as a single mother.

Determined to live life fully, I embarked on a journey to take charge of my life. Here, begins phase 3 of my life.

Lisa Axelson, Chilliwack Firefighter, chose I Took a Chance as her book title.

Lisa Axelson, UFV Library, human library

Firefighter Lisa Axelson, whose formal title at the Chilliwack fire department is Public Education, Fire Inspector, believes everybody's entitled to do what they want to do in life. "I told my daughter she could do anything a boy could do and she could do it better, and I told my son he could do anything a girl could do and he could do it better. Drive and determination are what's important, rather than gender. Everybody has the right to search for and find whatever makes them happy. It doesn't matter what your passion is in life; explore it, live it, breathe it as best you can. That's how I live."

Lisa, who studied fashion design at UFV, ran the Chilliwack School District's print shop for 25 years, before joining the Chilliwack Fire Department. For longer than 30 years she has been a volunteer fitness instructor/trainer at the YMCA and says she's thoroughly enjoyed every job she's ever done. "If you don't like what you're doing, find something you do like."

Shonnet Allen chose Chilliwack Kayaking Hero as her book title.

Shonnet Allen, Chilliwack library 

Slalom paddlers have been training on the Tamihi Rapids since the early 1970s and the stretch of water in the Chilliwack River Valley remains a world-class river resource for top-level athletes. The Chilliwack River Kayak Club was formed to maintain the gates, which are used for kayaking training and events. In the early 1990s, Dan Norman, who paddled for Canada at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, changed the name of the club to the Chilliwack Centre of Excellence, and began offering pool sessions for beginners at the Cheam pool. That’s where in 1999, Shonnet Allen’s sons Jon and Craig and their cousin Derek Beer first encountered kayaking and were hooked. Then Dan got a job out of town and was going to leave the club, so Shonnet took over.

Shonnet was alternately president or vice president of the CCE Paddling Club from 2004 until 2012. “I'm still involved. I'm rec director now,” she says. “For a long time it was me and (her cousin) Shelley (Beer) doing everything. We ran races, organized lessons and hired coaches because we didn't know anything about kayaking. We couldn't teach anything. I stayed president when I was sick with cancer and others did paperwork for me.”

Shonnet has co-organized international, national and local whitewater slalom kayak events at the Tamihi Rapids and participated in races at the Rutherford Whitewater Park in Pemberton, at the Mamquam River in Squamish, at Cowichan on Vancouver Island, and in the Pacific Northwest Cup races in Seattle and Salmon La Sac. The club has put on Sports Day in Canada events. “We kind of followed Dan's blueprint for things and figured out we could run races. It turned out really well. We ran team trials, which are selection races for World Cup Race Series and Olympic teams, Nationals which is a more family, kid-friendly race to select the Canadian Champions by age groups, and the BC Summer Games. We learned what to do make races happen. It's important to have the results coming faster than the athletes can get off the water and that's what we've tried to do. You want to have a good race. That's what's important for the athletes.”

The club’s goal was always to supply Canada with Olympic-class athletes. Canadian Olympian and World Cup kayakers Margaret Langford, David Ford, and American Scott Shipley used to train here. When David Ford, who trained in Chilliwack for 25-plus years, was named Canadian male athlete of the year in 2003, sports commentator Ron MacLean phoned and interviewed then club president Shonnet to get the ”inside scoop.” When Rick Mercer did a story on the club for his Rick Mercer Report in 2016, Shonnet got to meet him too.

Shonnet was inducted in the first group of Community Sport Heroes in Chilliwack in 2005. In addition to being a lay pastor at her church and a former Beaver leader, Shonnet is a long-time director of Pacific Sport, promoting sport in BC.

Carin Bondar chose Twists, Turns and Triumphs as her book title.

Carin Bondar, Chilliwack library

Former ballerina and biologist with a twist Carin Bondar first moved to the Fraser Valley in 2005 to take over the running of Cottonwood 4 Cinemas in Chilliwack. “It was a family business that I inherited after the untimely deaths of my father and my only sibling,” she says. ”I put my PhD on hold, and learned how to run a business...I simply had no other choice in the matter!

“By the time I was able to finally sell the business it was four years later. I had finished my PhD and I had three young children at home (now there are four). I knew that I wanted a career that involved science and media, and all I had to work with was an internet connection and an endless amount of determination!”

Today Carin is the writer and host of the web series Wild Sex (Earth Touch Productions), which has garnered more than 65 million views. Her TED talk on the same topic has reached an audience of more than 2.2 million. Wild Sex, her book based on the series (Pegasus USA), was released in the USA on August 2, 2016 and became an immediate top seller in zoology on Amazon. Dr. Bondar can be seen on a variety of television and web series including Outrageous Acts of Science on the Discovery Channel and Stephen Hawking’s Brave New World on National Geographic. She is also the host of World’s Oddest Animal Couples, (Netflix, Animal Planet).

Carin’s thesis, that earned her a PhD in applied ecology from the University of British Columbia, is entitled The Ontogenetic Ecology of the Signal Crayfish, Pacifastacus Leniusculus, in a Small Temperate Stream. Her academic honours, awards, scholarships, publications, presentations, television appearances, YouTube, radio broadcasts and podcasts are too numerous to mention. Carin has just finished a certification in psychotherapy, and is working with women in their first stages of sobriety from drug and alcohol addiction. (For more, see Carin’s main website: www.carinbondar.com)

“I like that I am a role model for women in science, and especially for MOMs in science and any other career,” says Carin. “We can do so much for ourselves and our children by reaching for our goals and not doubting ourselves."


Human Library

Tim McAlpine chose Entrepreneur as his book title.

Graphic designer Tim McAlpine knew he had to become an entrepreneur before graduating from the applied arts program at Fraser Valley College.

His instructor, the late Mircho Jakobow, had told him, “‘There are no jobs for graphic designers.’” “I thought ‘what have I invested this time for?’ I was dumbfounded. Then Mircho said, ‘…you have to make your own work.’”

Tim began building a client base as the lone worker at McAlpine Graphic Communication. The company expanded slowly, specializing in two fields: tourism and credit unions, eventually dropping the tourism side of the business to concentrate solely on credit unions. Currency Passport became Currency Marketing, which creates a complete set of marketing materials monthly, built around educational financial concepts ranging from credit scores to budgeting basics that target an audience between 15 and 25 years of age. The program is called ‘It’s A Money Thing’ and more than 100 credit unions have signed on from Texas to Abbotsford.

“I’ve gone through this transition of high-service, customized selling hours to now being in a place where I can productize something many clients want to participate in, and minimize the amount of customer service and consultation. They’re licensing a pre-created product,” he said.

“It’s been quite liberating, I’ve always been more curious about designing the business as opposed to doing the day-to-day design work. We’ve reinvented numerous times over the years. I don’t know if that’s entrepreneurial ADD or foresight … but I’m going to go with foresight.”

McAlpine is a popular fixture on the credit union speaking circuit, and a well-received TEDx and Pecha Kucha presenter. He writes for industry publications, serves as board chair of Mount Lehman Credit Union, and is past president of the Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce. He also serves as a Chilliwack Economic Partners Corporation director.

“Nothing’s going to fall in your lap,” he said. “Constantly be aware that you’re probably not going to be doing the same thing in five years. We’re a 27-year-old company but we’ve had to reinvent every five years.”


Joanna Sheppard chose Much more than Dodge Ball: Putting Education Back into the Physical as her book title.

Human Library

Dr. Joanna Sheppard is an Associate Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education at the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) in Chilliwack, B.C.  Her research focuses on physical and health education, life skills, curriculum development, and teaching games for understanding.  Joanna's passion lies in the collaborative efforts of best practices with, local, national and international teaching colleagues. Working side by side within the elementary and secondary school system, Joanna strives at making strong pedagogical connections that meet the physical literacy needs of all our students.

Sandy Hill chose Spiritual Nomad as his book title.

Human Library

Having a spiritual curiosity since age eight, kicked out of Sunday school at 12 for asking questions and identifying as an agnostic/atheist in college, it’s been a long road around the world for Teacher Education Program Coordinator Sandy Hill to get to where he is now: a practicing Sufi. Normally, but not necessarily associated with Islam, Sufism is a mystical practice in which a person is mentored by a living spiritual guide.

As a young couple, Sandy and his wife Janet discovered the Unitarian Church when they were looking for a church in which to get married. He found he liked that the Unitarians, the church of the odd ones out, like agnostics, divorced Catholics and LGBTQ people, at a time when these identities were not considered all right. Unitarians employed a wide variety of music and poetry, rather than just Bible readings, which appealed to the Hills. At that time, Sandy, who was studying zoology and would become a science teacher, was teaching junior high in church school.

Early in their marriage, Janet and he decided to take a year off and travel, starting in London and driving a van through Europe, attending Oberammergau, a passion play performed since 1634 in Germany, through Yugoslavia and Turkey, to Iran. They visited the tombs of Iranian poets Saadi and Hafez, back to Tehran and on to Afghanistan and Pakistan, where they could feel the presence of Genghis Khan and Alexander while driving down the Khyber Pass. Once in India, the pair drove 8,000 kilometers over five months stopping at Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh temples before going to Nepal and seeing the Himalayas. One night, they visited the Taj Mahal, and they had it all to themselves. They also went to Jain Temples at Mount Abu. In the Buddhist caves of Ellora and Ajanta, they saw frescoes that rival those of the Sistine Chapel. Over 12 months and 75,000 kilometers, they were living in the 4’ by 10’ space of the van. That’s intimacy.

Upon returning to Canada, Janet and Sandy had their first child Laura, who was born with profound birth defects. She lived six days. This grieving for their firstborn had a tremendous impact on their individual lives and spiritual direction, leading them to teach childbirth classes for the following 12 years and starting a Unitarian church school. 

As well as teaching public school, Sandy became a lay minister, performing 600 marriages and a number of memorial services and naming ceremonies. Janet became a practicing devotee of Paramahansa Yogananda. Sandy took a three-year certification in leading interfaith dances. One dance cycle, the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic, the original language of Jesus, became his primary spiritual practice. And in 2009, he was initiated as a sheikh. Among his diverse experiences, Sandy played field hockey for the Canadian National team in the early 70s and sings as part of the Universal Gospel choir, an interfaith choir in Vancouver.

Kaila Mussell, chose Not Your Typical Bronc Rider as her book title.

Human Library, bronc rider

"By becoming the first professional female saddlebronc rider in North America, I have challenged many people on diversity and stereotypes. From the start of my career as a saddle bronc rider, I was told that women either weren’t allowed to ride, or were not capable of riding. As I proved people wrong, they started to pay attention. I still encounter people who are initially sceptical of my abilities if they do not know who I am, but once they see I am capable of riding, and riding well, they realize that their thinking is incorrect. Not only have I  been a female in a male-dominated sport (challenging gender stereotypes), I have also challenged the stereotype of the look of a cowgirl, sporting a Mohawk, bright-coloured hair, multiple tattoos and piercings. I am also an Aboriginal woman excelling in what I do, although this fact hasn’t been highlighted over my career, mainly the fact that I am a woman in a male-dominated sport.

"I started off in rodeo as a barrel racer, steer rider, and then as a professional trickrider. After retiring from the former events, I wanted a new challenge. Part of my draw to riding saddle bronc was that I didn’t know of any women who rode in the modern day style of saddle bronc riding well. I also loved the bucking events as they were more of an adrenaline rush to me, as well as the challenge of learning a new sport that was very technical, and yet only 8 seconds long. My dad, Jack, rode saddle bronc and bulls before I was born, and then when I started in rodeo, my mom, Cindy, and sister, Filene, followed suit as barrel racers, as well as my oldest brother, CEJ, as a saddle bronc rider, steer wrester and calf roper. We travelled a lot as a family when I first started and they were some of my fondest memories of rodeo.

"My family has been supportive for the most part, although riding saddle bronc horses isn’t exactly what they would have liked me to do. This is primarily based on more of the issue of safety. Saddle bronc riding isn’t a very safe sport and I’ve acquired multiple injuries over the years including three shoulder operations, a dozen dislocations on my left shoulder two knee operations. I’ve broken collarbones three times (I have a plate and six screws in my collarbone), I’ve broken my right wrist, and, most seriously, I broke my neck, breaking C6 in two spots on the right side, which required surgery and fusion between C5-C7, and left me with a plate and three screws through the front of my neck, as well as bone taken from my right hip to replace two disks in my neck. This happened in April of 2014. I was off a year from rodeo, and started back again in 2015. I still have some unfulfilled goals that I may or may not accomplish, but at this point in my life, I am just happy being able to still do what I do despite my injuries, and I can inspire others to follow their dreams by doing."

Born in Chilliwack on the Skwah reserve, Kaila is the first and continues to be the only professional female saddle bronc rider in North America.

Adria Roberts chose Lost in Reality as her book title.

 Human library, mental health

"I am someone with lived experience with mental health recovery. In my life I have seen so many stereotypes and stigmas and it's sometimes hard to talk to people about mental health because of those stereotyopes and stigmas. I want to open your perceptions of mental health."

Christina Billingham chose Queer Artist as her book title.

 Christina Billingham, Human library

"I am a queer artist and filmmaker living in the Fraser Valley, but I didn’t always identify as such. A few years ago I was living in suburbia with my husband and five young children. I always knew I was gay, but felt compelled to live a traditional lifestyle. After a lot of contemplation, I came out, left my marriage and began producing art as a way of working through my feelings about this dramatic life realignment. I went to film school and excelled. The following few years were spent finishing my BFA and writing for a small publication, The Cascade. I learned to balance work, school, family, and my newly enveloped lifestyle. I am now in my mid-thirties and having experienced this profound shift in my life, along with many past failures that have helped shape my outlook and drive to excel, I am now moving forward with the intrinsic knowledge that I can make a creative imprint on the world around me through my unique lens."

Thanks to Darren McDonald from University Relations for the photographs of Darren Blakeborough, Elaine Malloway, Shirley Hardman, Tim McAlpine and Sister Jessie, and thanks to Alex Duff and his students from Visual Arts for framing some of our photos.

Last updated March 2, 2017 lm

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