Getting to know #Ubishops – Meet Dr. Avril Aitken

Getting to know your #Ubishops community is a must if you wish to fully immerse yourself into the BUbble! We decided to help you out by conducting monthly interviews with staff and faculty that contribute to the school’s success. This month we had the opportunity to talk to Dr. Avril Aitken, Professor at the School of Education.

Dr. Avril Aitken


Favourite book of all-time?
I love immersing myself in fiction of all sorts, and have many go-to authors. However, since you’re asking about a book, I would have to say it’s Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. I read it many years ago, at precisely the right moment, and have returned to it many times since then. Judging from how often it’s cited, I know am not alone in my appreciation. It served as a gateway for my thinking, and I believe I wouldn’t be at Bishop’s, if someone hadn’t handed it to me about 30 years ago.

Favourite group or singer?
Leonard Cohen is my life-long choice of favourite singer. I discovered him in a North American Literature class in high school, and spent most of my life believing I would never see him perform live. So it was incredible to discover he would begin touring again in 2008. I got to see him on my birthday, that year, at Place des Arts. It was amazing. Fun Fact: He is a famous alumnus of the elementary school I attended, Roslyn – I wish I had known about him while I was wandering those corridors!

Favourite movie of all-time?
The Fifth Element is SO campy and colourful, it’s hard to resist. I watched it with my children [who were teens at the time] in the late 90’s. Given that we had our own copy, it played repeatedly. We’ve returned to it on holidays, projecting it large and loud [because it is utterly LARGE and LOUD].

Favourite spot on campus?
This would be anywhere outside, when I’m on my bike. I have a great hybrid, but since I don’t live far from campus, I ride my beloved, second-hand bike to work (as long as possible). It’s recognizable by its beat-up basket, and the fact that I never lock it up. (Don’t tell anyone.) Being on a bike lifts my heart – more so when I am on this one. Maybe it’s because it’s helped me cover a lot of ground since I acquired it in the mid ‘90s.

Favourite spot off-campus?
Le Baron’s grocery store in North Hatley is one of my favourite spots. I think I would love it, even if it wasn’t in North Hatley. The location is a bonus.

Favourite #Ubishops moment?
My favourite moment at Bishop’s is easily the minute I stepped out of my car in 2006, on the day I was interviewed for a sessional position. It seemed that the wind lifted the massive branches of the beautiful pines, just as I got by bearings. The scent washed over me and took me immediately back to my childhood. I spent every summer nearby, when growing up, but I hadn’t been in the area for about twenty years. I felt an immediate and profound sense of well-being.

Describe #Ubishops in three words.
On Abenaki Territory

If you had to switch jobs with someone on campus, what would it be and why?
I’d switch jobs with Academic Librarian, Eliza McKnight. I believe that I’d enjoy the kind of inquiry and discovery she must experience daily. I picture that her time is shaped by problem solving and making creative connections. I really like that her job calls for intellect and intuition, that she gets to work with technology, and that she happens to be located in one of the most beautiful spaces on campus, the new Learning Commons.

We also interviewed Eliza McKnight on our blog!

If you had to join a club or student group on campus, what would it be and why?
I would join the Indigenous Cultural Alliance.  I’ve spent a great deal of my life working alongside, or at a distance, with members of the Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach. Their endless generosity of spirit has profoundly affected who I am, and what I believe about my own and our collective responsibility to everyone and everything in our ecosphere. Canada has a long way to go to recognize the significance of Indigenous knowledges and ways of being. The rights of Indigenous peoples are repeatedly ignored; like other settlers, I have a lot to learn.

If you had to go back to school, which program would you pick and why?
I’m fascinated by the unconscious and how it shapes teaching/learning relationships, so the thought of becoming a Psychotherapist is really compelling. A degree in Fine Arts [Studio and Art History], would be a great complement to this. On the other hand, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed using filmmaking with students, so that is another possible direction to take. But, but, but…maybe on the weekend, I also could take pastry-making classes so that I could open a bakery or a tea shop with one of my children. So much to do – so little time!

To learn more about the School of Education: https://www.ubishops.ca/academic-programs/school-of-education/


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