Living Library


This session allows participants to get a glimpse of life from the perspective of someone who has a unique story to tell.

The goal is to help participants gain a new appreciation for diverse ways of experiencing the world.  To foster a deeper respect for our differences, and to challenge stereotypes.  To inspire each other through a renewed appreciation for our common humanity, and to foster a richness and depth to the way we work across differences in our roles as professionals.

Human Books

Rachel Barreca, Manager, Strategic Initiatives, Ryerson University Career & Co-Op Centre

Rachel is settler Canadian who, for more than twenty years, has worked in Canadian and British higher education, providing students with opportunities for holistic learning through co-curricular programming in residence life, orientation and transition, student leadership, student activities, study abroad, and career education. She has a deep interest in transformative learning through the arts and currently works in the Dish With One Spoon territory in Ryerson University’s Career Centre.

Twitter: @moxywoman  |  Instagram: moxywoman

Beth Blackett, Health Promotion Coordinator

Beth has been working in Health Promotion at Queen's University for the past 10 years and has overseen two large peer programs including the Peer Health Educators and Campus Observation Room (COR) volunteers. In her current role, she oversees COR, our on-site non-medical detox center that has been operating since 1990. This unique harm reduction program is a collaborative partnership between our campus and detox staff from one of the local hospitals. We aim to be a safe, confidential and non-judgemental space for students who have had too much to drink. Beth can speak to COR operations, marketing, and how this fits into our larger alcohol strategy at Queen's to address binge drinking culture on a post-secondary campus.

Twitter: @QueensUBeWell  |  Instagram:  QueensUniversityBeWell

Olive Bryanton, PhD Candidate, UPEI

Olive Bryanton is a  Lifelong Learner, an 81 year old PhD Candidate Faculty of Education at UPEI.  Her dissertation Title – Pioneers in Aging: Voices of Women age 85 and Older Aging-in-Place in rural PEI.  Study purpose - to learn about the lived realities of women age 85 and older living in rural communities, and to raise critical questions about social structures and government policies/programs including educational strategies that impact on these women’s ability to age-in-place.  Participants – Women age 85 to 91 representing a diversity of socioeconomic situations, abilities, mobility and interdependence with family, friends and neighbours.

Jerome Chang, Associate Registrar

Like any good read, my story's not straightforward.  As a first generation, gay, tattooed and pierced, middle-aged, Asian-Canadian, son of a preacher man, and musician, working in Student Affairs for over 20 years, the themes (to name a few) in my life weave together to create a unique story that’s still unfolding. I’m an open book! You can’t learn anything without asking...


Frederic Fovet

Frederic has one life as an educator, teacher, and principal. He obtained his PhD in 2015 and destined himself to a faculty role in the Faculty of Education at UPEI. Over the period of his PhD, though, he continued to work and held the position of Director of the Office for Students with Disabilities at McGill. This second identity he has not shed, and he continues to act as a consultant in accessibility in higher education. This dual perspective is not one that is easy to manage and carry seamlessly.

Twitter: @ffovet

David Hamel

David Hamel grew up in the southern NunatuKvut community of Cartwright, Labrador. As a child, his family moved between a winter settlement and a summer settlement, following the wildlife in season. He grew up living the traditional lifestyle of the southern Inuit of Labrador. David worked as a fishermen in his youth and as a plumber as a young adult. In 1977 he became an ordained minister in Newfoundland & Labrador, and travelled throughout the province. Upon retiring in 2016, he moved to Prince Edward Island to be near his youngest two children and grandchildren.  

Ellie Hummel, Queer Chaplain in Secular Institution

Christian, you say? A Reverend? Working in a secular university? How does that work? This is a very common response when I tell people who I am. When I add that I am also lesbian and a feminist, many are even more confused. To me, it all makes sense to me. I would be happy to tell you more about it!


Omair Imtiaz, RCW, Superhero and Downtown Doris Rider

Born and raised in Dubai, UAE, a diverse multicultural hub, I moved to Canada in 2007 to further my education in post-secondary biology and health-care. Currently a Resident Care Worker, Superhero Spidey, and PediCab Rider. Love uniting people, making peace and with interests in social justice & inclusion. I'm enthusiastic about cycling, photography, travelling and adventure. My outlook makes me value life, health, wealth and appreciate so much that we take for granted.

Twitter: @omairimtiaz  |  Instagram: omairimtiaz

Anushay Irfan Khan, International and Intercultural Student Development Coordinator

Anushay Irfan Khan is a passionate educator and activist currently working at the University of Toronto Mississauga as the International and Intercultural Student Development Coordinator supporting the transition of international and internationally minded students while creating the spaces for critical questioning of the histories and narratives of globalization, the politics of belonging, identity, and transnationalism. Anushay has worked in a variety of roles at McGill University, Humber College, McMaster University and most recently at the University of Toronto Mississauga. Anushay actively attempts to center anti-oppressive, anti-racist, feminist and indigenous perspectives in Higher Education and within Student Life. As an immigrant woman of color, Anushay is passionate about challenging the status quo and working within an anti-oppressive and equitable framework to create accessible pathways to spaces within post-secondary education for historically marginalized and underrepresented communities.

Twitter: @anushayikhan

Krista Kermer, Manager, Academic Advising and Student Experience

Known for her unquenchable thirst for diet soda, Krista Kermer was born in the Northwest Territories and grew up in northern communities where groceries were ‘that’ expensive. Living as a rural, not-quite-out-yet gay woman led Krista through the hurdles of depression, self-harm and struggling to navigate her way through a new culture. By owning her story, Krista uses the lessons in her life to guide her approach to Student Services. 

Twitter: @krista_kerms  |  Instagram: krista_kerms

Sister Sue Kidd, CND, UPEI Campus Minister

Queen’s University BPHE/BA (’85) graduate, Sister Susan Kidd entered the Congregation of Notre Dame in 1987. She moved to Toronto for her B.Ed (U of T ‘88) and teaching career. Sister Sue taught Religion, Phys Ed and Science, coached basketball and soccer, chaired the Religion Department as well as serving as Chaplaincy Team Leader in a Catholic co-educational high school. Sister Sue graduated from St Michael’s University with a Masters of Divinity (’99). International community service then lead to UPEI in 2010 where she continues to serve as campus minister.

Twitter:  @SisterSueCND  |  Instagram: Susan.Kidd.16

Grant Matheson, Author

Grant is the author of The Golden Boy, a memoir which is a gritty account of his narcotic addiction and all that it cost him. Grant went from being a pillar of the community to being addicted to narcotics in his 30s. He hopes his story will help both those struggling with addiction and those who love someone with the disease.

Twitter:  @DrGrantMatheson  |  Instagram: drgrantmatheson

Allyson Miller, Dropout, FG, Mature, Lesbian Moonlighting as Manager of Learning Services

Life's path is rarely straight (pun intended). My living book thus far has been strange and amazing. Despite any obstacles, or perhaps because of them, I enjoy an insatiable curiosity and a deep love of learning. As someone with an MA in English Literature and Creative Writing, I'm excited at the prospect of being a living book instead of a consumer or producer of text. Come read me. 

Ikechukwu (Daniel) Ohaegbu

My name is Ohaegbu Ikechukwu Daniel, I hail from Nigeria, West Africa. I studied at the University of Prince Edward Island with a degree in Psychology sciences and currently working on an Honours Project. I'm pretty much an open book, so I look forward to sharing my experiences and journey with you.

Twitter:  @Danny_Vic  |  Instagram:  Danny_Vic

Mary-Kate Pond, Mental Health Advocate

I am from a small town outside of Fredericton, NB and went to the University of New Brunswick for both my Undergraduate and Masters Degree. I now work for Scotiabank as a Client Relationship Manager and I would be lying if I said it was an easy road to get here. My whole life I have struggled with anxiety and it only got worse when I started university. I was fortunate enough to have a handful of people in my life, that I knew personally and through the university, who cared enough to guide me through and I ended up graduating in 2015 as Valedictorian. If it wasn't for others encouraging me, supporting me, and advising me I would be telling a very different story.

Instagram: MaryKatePond

Dave Stewart, Creative Type/Horror Fanatic/JAK2 Mutant/Queer

Dave Stewart is a copy, fiction, and freelance writer; editor/contributor to PEI's first multi-author horror anthology; person living with Polycythemia vera - a chronic, invisible illness; survivor of growing up gay in 1980's PEI; maker of short films and DIY music; art show curator/contributor; and his long-running cartoon And Yet I Blame Hollywood from PEI's arts monthly The Buzz was adapted, animated and broadcast nationwide on CBC - TV's late, great counterculture show ZeD. 


Dan Cantiller, Student Success Facilitator

Dan Cantiller is a learning specialist working at the Academic Success Centre in Ryerson University’s business faculty. Dan is starting graduate studies after years of working professionally in Student Affairs in Ontario and BC. In the past two years, he has completed three certificate programs related to Student Affairs and Services, with an interest in equity and inclusion topics. Currently, Dan is learning more about his identity and relationships as a newcomer-settler through the Aboriginal Knowledges and Experiences certificate program. When not at the office (or hitting the books), Dan taps into his musical interests as a member of a queer community choir, from which he draws lessons about leadership and teamwork, community building and support. Talk to Dan about learning, balance, and Survivor.

Twitter: @DanCanThinks

Amy/Mark Gaukel/Solomon, Assistant Dean Students/Associate Dean Student Life & Indigenous Education 

As a married straight couple in student affairs, we are a bit of a unicorn. We have worked together at the same institution in the same department, have worked in both the university and college sectors, are senior leaders at our institutions & currently sit as members of the CACUSS Board of Directors. Being married to someone in the same field has many challenges and many rewards.

Twitter: @AmyGaukel / @markjsolomon  |  Instagram: @agaukel / @markjsolomon2696


Junior Peter-Paul, Mi'kmaq Elder

Junior Peter-Paul is a proud Mi'kmaq man and a member of the Elsipogtog First Nation. He was born in Presque Isle, Maine, raised in Elsipogtog and now currently resides on Price Edward Island to be closer with his children and grandchildren. 

Junior spent his whole adult life learning and teaching the Mi'kmaq way of life. Sharing his knowledge and passing his teachings down to many communities, schools and youth in all areas of Mi'kmaki. 

Junior is extremely active in his community, by working with the younger generations and teaching them about singing, drumming, Mi'kmaq Culture and most recently, the teachings of building a Wigwam. The Sweat lodge ceremonies and other ceremonial practices are apart of his daily life. He takes great pride in the teachings that have been passed down to him and he enjoys being able to share that knowledge with our youth and surrounding communities today.

With the help and guidance of many Elders before him, Junior has been able to raise all of his children with traditional Mi'kmaq values and knowledge that they still follow by today.

James Reddin, Counsellor 

Dungeons and Dragons was a gateway experience. As computer games and internet technology improved, it became so much easier to geek out online. After 'retiring' from a 25 hour a week habit in MMOs James continues to enjoy online gaming in moderation. Come join him to learn what draws people to this community and how to talk to your students who are struggling to manage a balance between the online and face to face worlds.

Twitter: @JamesReddin

Jillienne Simone, Community Development Coordinator at McMaster and Invictus Games 2017 Volunteer

I have worked in the post-secondary environment for over 6 years and have had many memorable experiences along the way, but nothing has come close to the Toronto 2017 INVICTUS GAMES. “The Invictus Games use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for wounded, injured and sick service men and women.” I want to share with you my Invictus journey…join me for my “I AM” story.