Joan Acosta came to then-Capilano College in 1979. In 1982, she became the editor of The Westcoast Reader, an award-winning newspaper for English as a Second Language adult learners. She held this position for 27 years, retiring in 2009. During these years, Joan grew the paper to a circulation of 125,000 each month and helped more than one million people learn to read. On the way, she became the most decorated ESL teachers in the history of Canadian members of provincial and national ESL associations. She received the Order of British Columbia in 1994 from Lt. Governor David Lam, who referred to Joan as Mrs. ESL. She received the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in 2003 for contributions to the field of adult literacy. In 2004, Joan was a delegate to B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell’s Literacy Summit, and in 2007, she received the Council of the Federation Literacy Award. These are just a few of the many accolades Joan received over the years. Now retired, Joan is still dedicated to helping adults improve their English skills. She has selected some of the best stories from TWR to create an online series of e-books called Best of the Reader. There are six e-books (bestofthereader.ca) and a 2010 calendar of special days and holidays. Each e-book has six to eight stories with exercises and an answer key. The stories are designed for readers at three levels of ability, from very simple to more complex.
Over the years, Joan has also either authored or co-authored nine books and guides pertaining to literacy projects. Included was the Newcomers Guide for B.C. – a classic example of useful information in plain language. In fact, it was so well-received that she was asked to write the guide for newcomers to Australia. In 2001, The Joan Acosta/Westcoast Reader Award was established by the ESL department of Capilano College and is given annually to a beginning-level ESL Cap student.
Brett McGillivray worked at Capilano for 36 ½ years, joining the college in 1972 and retiring in 2008. In that time he was involved in many committees, served as an executive with the faculty union, served as a co-ordinator for the Social Science division and was the Geography department head for 32 years.
Along with Karin Lind, Brett established the first university credit field school for Capilano in 1975. “Only universities did those exciting things back then and it was with considerable difficulty and persuasion through articulation meetings that the big universities accepted that colleges could run field schools and they would recognize the credit,” he said. Brett took two trips to Asia to assist in setting up the co-op side of the Asia Pacific Management Co-op Program, and was also involved in its geography component.
In 2000, Brett wrote The Geography of British Columbia: People and Landscapes in Transition (UBC Press). It immediately became the standard geography text of B.C., used everywhere the course is taught. The book has been expanded and updated and will be released later this year in its third edition. In 2006, Brett published Canada: a Nation of Regions (Oxford University Press). This book was an instant hit nationwide and was adopted by many universities. It has just come out in a second edition.
Brett was considered a senior mentor for all new geography faculty over the last 20 years – maybe longer. He was truly a beacon of guidance for the department and while he may have retired from teaching at Capilano University, there is no sign of him retiring from geography. “I have to say that Capilano was a wonderful institution to be involved in, as it placed a great deal of attention on teaching and recognized that the life experiences of instructors was a fundamental component to teaching,” he added. “For me, Capilano encouraged my involvement in local politics for the Sunshine Coast Regional District (14 years), all the field trips (from day trips to field schools), as well as my research and writing. These have been good years with some very good people to work with.”
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