2017 INSTRUCTORS' BIOGRAPHIES
The following presenters will be live at the Family Discovery Day event
Fred Bjarnason -- Cancelled
Fred Bjarnason is the President of the Icelanders of Victoria. The seeds of the Icelanders of Victoria club were sown in 1995 when a small group of people of Icelandic descent began to gather socially. They recognized the need to promote an interest in Icelandic culture, tradition and heritage and by 1997 the present Association was formed.
David Bly is a writer and photographer who recently retired as the editorial writer for the Victoria Times Colonist.His 45-year journalism career has included five years as the heritage writer for the Calgary Herald. He has published four photography-based books, as well as a young adult novel studied in Alberta junior high schools. He has contributed articles and photos to several historical books and publications.
John Carter is a member of Little Red River Cree Nation located in Northern Alberta. John and Maya have 4 daughters and they have lived on Vancover island for 8 years. John is educated in Civil Engineering Technology and has a degree in Urban and Regional Development and a certificate in project management. John is currently an MBA candidate at Royal Roads University. John works as a project management consultant for first Nation communities. He presently works for Cowichan Tribes, providing Project management and Safety consultation services. John has had some wonderful experiences getting through barriers that exist in first Nation family history research. He has learned some fascinating stories about medicine men, healers, hunters, trappers, migrating tribes and voyagers.
Dr. Ross Crapo was born and raised in Alberta. He served a two year mission for the LDS Church in France after completing high school. On his return he entered pre-dental studies at Brigham Young University. He completed his Bachelor of Science studies in 1976 and was accepted by the University of Alberta Dental School that same year. In his second year of dental studies he decided to join the Canadian Armed Forces to help defray school costs and because it would give him an opportunity to see a part of life and Canada he’d only heard about.
He has always had a love of history and was influenced by tragic and inspiring examples of the world wars that have marked our culture and everyday life. In 2013 he returned to France and spent 2 days visiting historic sites that marked the action of Operation Overlord – the landing of the allies on the beaches of Normandy. In 2016 he returned with a small group and spent 8 days to further explore those sites and additional World War II sites as well as many World War I sites and cemeteries in Normandy, Vimy, Arras, Ypres and Bastogne.
He is excited to share stories, thoughts, places and events at this conference.
Janice Cushman, Emeritus AG® is an avid genealogist and instructor, who specializes in British Isles, Canada, and U.S. research. She has the Family History Certificate (Professional Option) from Brigham Young University and is a retired Accredited Genealogist® professional. Janice’s interest in genealogy was sparked in 1979, when she took an introductory course offered by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Since then, her genealogical career has included over 40 conference and other speaking engagements, writing her book, Donaghy Family History: From Ireland to Canada, serving as the Director of the Calgary Regional Family History Center for four years, and thousands of gravestones examined!
Barbara Doell started researching her family history in the 1970’s using traditional paper and pen methods. Around 2008, she transitioned to the digital era which opened up the world to the search for her ancestors with her family roots deeply entrenched in England, Ireland, Scotland and Ontario. Barbara has enjoyed many trips to Salt Lake City which extended her research.
Sandra Gill has been a professional genealogist for over 50 years for corporate and business clients. She has lectured and taught extensively at Camosun College, Victoria Genealogy Society, Victoria Historical Society, Saanich Pioneer Society, Huguenot Society, Loyalist Society, Friends of BC Archives and is a founding member of Victoria Genealogy Society. Her interviews have been published in local newspapers, with T.V. and radio interviews. Has served at Family History Centre since it was established. Her interests cover all aspects of family history.
Vida Gronnestad married a Norwegian, leading to an interest in Norwegian family history. Vida visited Scandinavian countries many times and spent many years living in Denmark. Vida's professional career included being an elementary school teacher in the Sooke District. Now retired on an 18-acre hobby farm in Duncan, Vida and her husband are "wanna be" farmers and have an array of cows, sheep, chickens and ducks. Vida loves to quilt, and is in the process of making quilts for her great grand children. None have arrived yet!
Dennis Hall is the Director of the Victoria Family History Centre, along with his wife Christine. He has a passion for learning what is the newest and greatest in the world of Family History. His 95 year old father claims he has traced his lineage back to Adam... and Dennis is currently working to verify all that.
Elaine Hall has been involved in family history research for over 40 years, researching her own family roots in Atlantic Canada and New England. In addition, she has volunteered at the Victoria Family History Center for over 20 years. She became interested in computers when in college, back in 1974. So, when genealogical research joined the computer age years ago, her love for family history grew into a serious experience. Roots Magic is her family history software of choice, and she loves to show others the simple steps to using computer software for research, especially the basics of the FamilySearch website and Family Tree. Elaine and her husband Martin will celebrate their 40th anniversary this year. They are the parents of four sons, four daughters-in-law and six grandchildren.
Christine Hitchmough was born in Lancashire England and has been researching her family for about 30 years. Her ancestors hail mostly from England and Ireland but with one branch in South Africa and another in Australia, she has met some interesting research challenges. Chris came to Canada in 1971 as a new bride with her husband. Chris’s hobbies are genealogy, quilting for her family and gardening. She received her BScn from UVIC. In her professional life she worked as a registered nurse in the VIHA hospital system.
Julie Keyes started indexing 10 years ago, when the project first started, and became the Indexing Director for the Victoria area in 2012. She loves to discover what’s on these records and then transcribe them for others to use and she loves to teach others how to index. She has also had a passion for family history research for about 20 years. She has lived in Victoria with her husband for 30 years and has 3 children and 7 grandchildren.
Mary Kathryn Kozy has been working on her own family history for over 35 years, since she first became interested as a young teenager. Over the years she has researched families from the Midwest to the Deep South, and from both Western and Eastern Europe. She started her own family history website in November 1996, and has continued developing it. She has served in multiple positions in several local societies and on the state level. She currently serves on the board of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Washington State, supports the USGenWeb project and FamilySearch Indexing and speaks to many groups in the area. Mary is married, the mother of three wonderful children, and recently became a grandma for the second time. She holds bachelor’s degrees in both Zoology and Information Technology & Systems and has completed the ProGen program with an eye toward certification..
Alison Lafferty is a registered dental hygienist working in private practice. She was born in the UK, with a grandfather from Ayrshire, Scotland via Galway, Ireland. She has always been interested in tracing her family heritage, but began researching intensely 5 years ago. She has recently visited Ireland and researched there. In her Irish research, she has been successful in researching a few of her family lines and looks forward to the new information online, accessing websites as well as books, and information from many sources.
Liane Lyle is a native of Montreal with a degree in history and a keen interest in family history research. She has invested much of her free time over the past 30 years in seeking her ancestors’ records in Quebec, Ontario, England, Germany and the US. Liane served in the Family History Centre of Victoria for many years in a variety of positions. As a teacher, Liane especially loves to help people learn some basics and figure out how to get started searching for their roots.
Steve and Nancy still consider themselves beginners as most of their direct ancestral lines have been researched due to their Mormon pioneer heritage. Most of the work has been done by their extended family. Nancy is the Family History Consultant in the Sooke Branch of the LDS church and is an arbitrator for the Indexing program. Steve is the IT support for the Sooke Branch Family History program and an indexer. They are excited about the new online programs that facilitate finding relatives they didn't know they had. Steve is a highly skilled computer and internet user and Nancy loves research, so this work allows them the opportunity and delight of working together.
Dave Obee is a journalist, genealogical researcher and lecturer who has written a dozen books and given more than 500 presentations at conferences and seminars in Canada and the United States since 1997. Dave has been researching his own family history since 1978, after taking a course at Camosun College. He is also one of the founders of the Times Colonist book drive, which so far has raised more than $1.5 million in support of literacy.
In his professional life, Dave Obee has worked as a journalist for more than 4 decades and is now the Editor-in-Chief of the Victoria Times Colonist. Dave is also a columnist on Genealogy and Family History for several other publications both in Canada and further afield. In 2012 he was awarded an honorary doctorate of laws by the University of Victoria for his work as a historian, genealogist and journalist. Two years later he was presented with the Governor General's Caring Canadian award for his work as a community volunteer. He has received numerous other awards and recognitions.
Dave has visited 17 countries in Europe, doing genealogical research in most of them. He has a keen interest in the world war battle areas. He has served as president of the Federation of East European Family History Societies and is now their webmaster. For several years, he taught family history courses for the continuing education department of Royal Roads University. He still runs two major genealogical websites.
Dave's family roots in British Columbia go back to 1890. Some of his paternal ancestors arrived in North America two centuries ago, settling in New York State and Ontario. His mother was born in a German colony in Russia, and came with her parents to Canada between the two world wars.
My personal story is that I was born on a Canadian military base in Fort Nelson B.C. and lived on various military bases until the age of 12 when my father retired from the military. My father and his brother were both veterans of WW2 and my Grandfather and his 2 brothers fought in WW1. One of those was killed in action in Mesopotamia ( now Iraq ) on his 29th birthday. I have been a student of military history for several years and feel a deep sense of gratitude for those who were willing to pay the ultimate price for the freedoms that we enjoy and often take for granted.
Tim Pelton is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Victoria. He teaches classes on mathematics pedagogy and educational technology. His research interests include: the creation and evaluation of educational apps; the application of appropriate technologies to enhance the teaching and learning process (e.g., clickers, iPads, GPS, 3D printing etc.); and the use of creative apps on iPads to engage students in problem solving, communicating, reasoning and representing their understandings through virtual manipulatives, comics and video artifacts. Family history is a developing hobby.
Jeannine Powell has been referred to as the “GenQueen”. She is described as a self-proclaimed “addict” when it comes to Family History, especially when it comes to searching online and the use of technology in the process. She has spent nearly 21 years honing research skills while doing family history for her immediate family and commissioned jobs for others in a variety of areas, includingUnited States, Canada, England, Scotland, and Iceland. She has been fortunate enough to be a presenter on multiple topics for many years, including workshops with the Qualicum Beach, Nanaimo and Victoria Genealogical Societies, the Vancouver Island Regional Library (Cowichan), Cowichan Elder College, Nanaimo Stake and Duncan Family History Centres, as well as at genealogy conferences and for privately arranged workshops. She has twice been interviewed by CBC News online for comment on related topics. She has a special interest in using software to manage research and has been a facilitator for the Legacy [Family Tree] User Group for several years.
Pat always had an interest in family history, but it was in 1976 she took her first genealogy class at BYU Idaho, but did not find many ancestors until the 1881 England/Wales census on fiche was released. Suddenly, she was finding and discovering those elusive English and Scottish kin!
Pat served as Assistant Director of the Victoria Family History Centre for over five years and also a ward family history consultant. She loves helping patrons and friends learn to love their ancestors with roots in England and Scotland. Pat has worked in the Family History Centre for twenty years and has been a witness to many of the changes in Family History. Other interests include Scrap booking, reading and walking.
Brenda L. Smith has comprehensive experience in journalism, business operations, marketing and public relations, cultural trusteeship, fundraising, community development and service delivery. She is an experienced developer and presenter of programs to teach research, organizational development, public speaking and theatre skills. She contributes to the Maple Ridge Historical Society Family History Newsletter. In 2006, Brenda was the recipient of the Maple Ridge Heritage Commission Sheila Nickols Heritage Achievement Award for Community History and Heritage Teaching. She currently serves the British Columbia Historical Federation as Education Chair and Publications Secretary, and she is member of the Maple Ridge Community Heritage Commission.
Carol Stiles has been working on Family History for her own family since 1970. After all her children left home in the mid 90’s, she began getting serious. One thing led to another and Carol became involved in volunteering at the Family History Centre in Victoria. Within a year, she had done major work on her own line and her husband's, and within two years had also done work for her stepfather's line plus her son's and daughter's in-laws. After being called as Technical Advisor to the Victoria Family History Centre, she had to learn a little about computers. She still knows a little. She also served as the Director of the Duncan Family History Centre until January 2011 when she and her husband served a Humanitarian Mission in Slovakia. There she also helped members with genealogy and taught several classes in a foreign language. At present she volunteers as a Family History Consultant and teaches several classes a year for the FHC at the Duncan Library. Her specialty is finding data online. If it is on the web somewhere, she can find it. She discovered how to tweek the system in order to get what she is looking for. She can help you with Canadian and US Research, Research in England and Scotland, and French Canadian Research as well as Eastern European research.
Karen Inkster is a trained teacher, researcher and writer who is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories. She is the author of Voices from the Past: A History of North Roe (2008), a social history of the village in Shetland, Scotland where her great-grandfather was born. She conducted over 150 oral history interviews as part of the Ex-cadet Oral History Project at Royal Roads University and oversaw the writing and production of two documentary films Coming Full Circle: Remembrances of Royal Roads Ex-Cadets (2009) and Ingrained in Us: Remembering Royal Roads (2013), both of which have aired on television. She currently lives in Surrey, BC.