Dr. Heather Phipps (2017)

Writing Fellow Report by Dr. Heather Phipps, University of Regina

Tânisi! Heather ê-isiyihkâysoyân. oskana kâ-asastêki niwîkin mêkwâc. Hi, my name is Heather Phipps. I live in Regina, Saskatchewan, situated on Treaty 4, traditional lands of the Cree, Saulteaux, Dakota, Nakota, Lakota and homeland of the Métis peoples. I am researching and teaching primarily in the area of language and literacy education at the University of Regina.

In May 2017, I visited the Institute for Child and Youth Studies at the University of Lethbridge as a Writing Fellow.  It was a pleasure to return to the University of Lethbridge, this place holds many memories for me. I completed my undergraduate studies in Education (French) and Humanities. During my visit last spring, I was pleased to find this new art piece outside of the library titled I am still learning, with writing in several languages. I appreciate the presence of such a thoughtful multilingual piece that reminds us to embrace the joy of learning: J’apprends encore!

While visiting the I-CYS, I had the opportunity to write and to share my research during a public talk presented to graduate students, colleagues, and the broader community. My presentation was entitled Les enfants qui parlent aux enfants: Listening to children’s voices in response to Canadian picture books. I shared my research methodology and some of the key findings from my dissertation research study with children and teachers in grades one and two French classrooms in Montreal (Phipps, 2016). The children who participated in my study expressed their ideas through multiliteracies including visual arts, conversations, and poetry. In researching with children, I have learned to value the importance of slowing down to appreciate the richness and beauty of children’s literature. My doctoral research, highlighting the need to listen to children’s voices, has provided a platform for future directions in language and literacy research in education, particularly in relation to place, identity, visual literacy, and children’s rights.

The work of the Institute for Child and Youth Studies is exciting and innovative, bringing together interdisciplinary scholars including history, education, sociology, anthropology and literature. As a scholar focussed on children’s literature and literacy practices, I felt very much at home at I-CYS. Furthermore, I was delighted to learn about the projects being undertaken by the I-CYS team, including the Raising Spirit: The Opokaa'sin Digital Storytelling Project working with the Blackfoot community. 

I am deeply grateful to Dr. Kristine Alexandar, Director of the Institute for Child and Youth Studies for inviting me to spend a week as Writing Fellow at the University of Lethbridge. I am also grateful to Dr. Erin Spring and the team at I-CYS for such warm hospitality. The conversations shared with the members of I-CYS have inspired me and I look forward to future exchanges of knowledge and ideas regarding research with children and youth. Merci beaucoup! 

Learn how to become a writing fellow here: http://www.uleth.ca/research/centres-institutes/institute-child-and-yout...