Meet Our Volunteers at Innovation Works | Tanya

January 20

Where are you from and how did you land in London?

Long story short: I was born in Manitoba, grew up in Montreal, moved to Toronto after the FLQ crisis in Quebec. Lived 9 months in Cuba on Scuba Diving contract with my (then) husband and when it ended, moved to London to be with family.

Tell us about your education and professional background.
Went from a French-speaking convent in grade 1 to English Protestant for grade 2. Why? My grandmother wanted me close to home. We moved onto the Island (Montreal) and transferred to an English Catholic day school. A number of moves later, I graduated high school. My college diploma from Humber College in Toronto says Recreational Leadership. I had some of the best times in those 2 years. 

Professional is a subjective term, I think.
I worked in the outdoor education field. Married and moved back to Toronto where I worked in the Recreation Dept at CNIB. I learned a LOT about people that remains with me today. From there as Senior’s (Citizens) Programs Director at Harbourfront. Once that ended, I switched fields and did a variety of ‘non and professional’ jobs including being co-owner of a scuba diving 4-star shop. From there to Cuba for 9 months where I developed different nature-oriented short trips for tourists and also taught snorkelling. My ex was an instructor and I was a divemaster. My element is water. I must have been a mermaid in a former life. I’ve co-designed and produced print-based advertising, books and magazines. Variety IS the spice of life, you know. Volunteering may not be paid work, but it’s still commitment and is a great teacher.

What cause are you most passionate about?
I think… for now, it’s my role as London Library Volunteer for the ESL Conversation Mentoring program to 2 middle-aged women wanting to improve their English speaking skills using Zoom. I’m getting a lot out of it knowing these brave women who, with children, moved from their own countries to Canada.

Why did you want to volunteer at Innovation Works?
More for the social aspect than anything else. I like the variety of goals and personalities of the tenants, staff and visitors. It gets me out and doing things. I’m an organizer at heart so it feeds that part of me. I’ve been there for almost 2 years.
What is the best thing that’s happened for you as a result of volunteering at Innovation Works?
Best part.. hmmm..  just one? Let me think a bit…. A sense of purpose to get out of the house and get myself involved in a busy, innovative place. It’s one of the most innovative places I’ve ever been. I’ve been excited to be ’Zooming’ along online into an amazing variety of creative divergent thinking in a time that will mark our lifetime into the history books.  

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned as a result of volunteering at Innovation Works?
Ahh…singular again. I’ll just say that ALL of the things I’ve done keep me coming back. The new technological stuff that's emerging has pushed my comfort zone and I like that. BTW, working with Andrew and Lore makes going in a treat.

Thank you for all that you do, Tanya! Stay tuned for more volunteer features.