I am an associate professor in the School of Kinesiology & Health Studies at Queen’s University and the Head of the Department of Gender Studies. For 15 years, I taught Health 101, The Social Determinants of Health, which explains how social factors, such as poverty, racism and income inequality, and not just individual lifestyle choices, affect health.
I am the eldest of five children, and grew up in a working-class family during the 1960s and 70s in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. I was the second person in my extended family on my mother’s and father’s side to attend university. Never in my wildest dreams as a child could I ever have imagined becoming a university professor.
Growing up in a small town beside the North Atlantic Ocean, I went to school with everyone from the fisherman’s kids to the doctor’s kids. It gave me a sense of the randomness of the circumstances of our births and lives. Contemporary research is only starting to reveal the many complex ways in which our family circumstances in childhood—and even before we are born—impact our health and our chances of success as adults.
Trained in sociology, I am interested in understanding the ways in which the deck is stacked against those who are born into or fall into poverty. I am passionate about finding new ways to live together that would provide everyone with adequate resources to enable more of us to become all that we can be. I have become an advocate of extending to all Canadians the basic income guarantee that we provide our seniors. Canada is a wealthy country with more than enough for all.
One of the biggest barriers to ending poverty in Canada is the stereotypes we carry about those who live in poverty. I hope that this website will help shatter those stereotypes, and open minds and hearts to create a tipping point of change.
I have lived in Kingston since 2004. I am the happy mother of Claire and we live with our cat, Daisy. I like to grow vegetables in the back yard, practice Iyengar yoga, and ride my bicycle to work.