Latest Edition of the York Rose: March 2018

Dear Alumnae,

We are pleased to share with you the latest edition of the York Rose featuring profiles on some of our truly amazing alumnae from around the world. You will also find highlights from some of the many events throughout the year where Yorkies continue to celebrate their connection to the school as well as the friendships that they have with each other. We hope that you enjoy!

If you would like a printed copy mailed to you, please contact us at alumnae@yorkhouse.ca.

Not For Ourselves Alone: Launch of Alumnae Mentorship Program

The YHS Alumnae Mentorship Program launched online in November and to date, we have matched 24 alumnae based on career journeys and experience. The focus of the program is to connect our more experienced alumnae professionals with our more recent graduates and we’re very fortunate that our alumnae are so willing to give advice and offer their expertise and time. Our motto of “Not for Ourselves Alone” always shines through with our alumnae and their dedication to helping their fellow Yorkies.

Even though we have always provided mentorship opportunities for our grads, this new program ensures that our alumnae are getting matched with follow up and feedback to build the program effectively. Once our mentees are connected with mentors, email communication is initiated and from there, the mentoring process begins.

Alumnae in the fields of law, business, accountancy, graphic design, optometry, film, and the cultural sector are taking part in the mentorship process and we look forward to creating strong links between our alumnae as it moves forward. Time differences notwithstanding, (our alumnae are all over the world), we are excited about the project and to actively see it grow.

For more information about our mentorship program, contact Ita Kane-Wilson at alumnae@yorkhouse.ca.

Dianne Whelan ‘83: 2017 YHS Alumnae Special Achiever

This year’s Special Achiever, Dianne Whelan ‘83, made a special effort to be at York House to speak at both Founders’ Day and Alumnae Day to celebrate our 85th Anniversary. In fact, a bush pilot extracted her from a remote area along the Trans Canada trail where, since July 2015, she has hiked, biked, snowshoed, skied, and canoed across the country. As she passes through some 15,000 communities along the 24,000 kilometers of the trail, she’s filming her next adventure documentary, 500 Days in the Wild.

Former York House School Head Girl, Dianne Whelan ’83, an explorer, award-winning Canadian documentary filmmaker, author, and multimedia artist, is no stranger to extreme adventure. In 2007, Dianne was the first woman to travel as an embedded media person with a team of Canadian Rangers to a never patrolled route of the northwestern coast of Ellesmere Island, Nunavut. In the middle of winter, they traversed close to 2000 km in the Canadian High Arctic from Resolute to Alert, the most northerly human habitation in the world. Her film, This Land and first book, This Vanishing Land A Woman’s Journey to the Canadian Arctic, depicts her epic journey. In 2010, she filmed her award-winning film, 40 Days at Base Camp, which recounts her eye-opening experiences on the world’s highest mountain, Mt. Everest.

In support of her journey along the Trans Canada Trail, Dianne was recently honoured to receive an expedition grant from the Royal Canadian Geographic Society for the 2,300-km paddle of Lake Superior. With North America’s largest lake behind her, Dianne is continuing along “The Path of the Paddle”, a water route in Northwestern Ontario, which follows centuries-old traditional First Nations and Metis trails. Dianne received another honour earlier this year when her film, This Land, a National Film Board documentary, made the Celebrate Canada 150 list.  

We were fortunate to be able to sit down with Dianne while she was here to talk about what her Trans Canada  journey has shown her so far.

Before setting out, Dianne had titled the trip and pending film, 500 Days in the Wild. This was when she thought she would be travelling the longest trail in the world at a pace of 70 km per day. She lets out a good natured laugh when she thinks back on her ambition. By Day 3, after leaving Newfoundland, Dianne soon came to the realization that it was going to take her considerably more time. In fact, it will likely take her four years, or 1,460 days, to complete but she is no longer in a hurry. But now, more important than how hard or fast she goes, is her interactions with people along the trail.

Now, at the halfway mark, she has been particularly impressed with the kindness that people have shown her along the way. Their generosity has confirmed for her that people truly are good in a way that we often forget.

When asked about how her expectations have changed from the start of the trip, Dianne comments, “It has definitely been harder physically than I had expected. But I haven’t been sick or hurt. I thought I would be more fearful being a woman on my own but that fear is gone. Of course, what I thought would be one film has now become a trilogy (I hope to release part one in the fall of 2018).”

“One thing I really didn’t expect is the exchanges that I have had with indigenous people, particularly the women,” she continues. “First Nations culture teaches us to honour the earth and to honour the women. A Cree grandmother shared with me their collective belief that no decision should be made without thinking of seven generations ahead, which is why I believe that the answers for sustainability are with the First Nations.

Her time with indigenous women across the country has also shown her the importance of humility and having an open heart.

“For me, my goal is to make sure that every day is a sincere expression of myself. When I filmed at Everest, I had lost my balance and went into my ego. Now I know that you need to hang onto a certain amount of humility and grace. I think I have learned from my past mistakes.”

With so much time in isolation in nature, Dianne has had much time to reflect on the importance of following her heart. While here celebrating Founders’ Day with us, she reminded us all of the importance of not forgetting where we come from and how empowering our motto, Not for Ourselves Alone, truly is.

Dianne had come to York House School in Grade 9 as a shy and quiet student, but by Grade 12 she was Head Girl. “When I graduated from York House, I had the confidence that I could do anything I wanted; I left believing in myself. For me, York House is the foundation upon which I built my dreams. We need places like York House to breed strong women,” says Dianne.

Thinking back on her path after York House that has led her to this point, Dianne recalls the eight years at McGill University where she studied philosophy, political science, and religious studies. She was on her way to law school at Dalhousie University when she had decided to take a break and work for her father’s fashion company in Vancouver, Marquis of London, where she learned multiple facets of the business ranging from marketing to production.

The realization that she needed to follow a different path led her to Langara College where she studied journalism and Emily Carr where she studied multimedia including photography and film.

She now recognizes that everything that she has learned, whether at school or in life, has led her to this journey she is on now. This journey to see and to know, that we are not alone.

To read more about Dianne’s adventures visit http://500daysinthewild.com.

Eastern Canada Alumnae Reunion 2017 Tour

Time is ticking and it won’t be very long before the alumnae team heads east to the cold and snowy weather once again! Starting in Ottawa on January 23rd, we will also visit our alumnae in Montreal, Kingston, London, Toronto and for the first time in a long time, Halifax. We are looking forward to seeing as many alumnae for dinner as possible. Hurry up! If you haven’t sent us in your RSVP, please do so now to alumnae@yorkhouse.ca

Always a Yorkie – Golden Alumnae Return to York House

 

Alumnae from classes of 1942 – 1966 were welcomed back to school by Head of School, Chantal Gionet on September 30 to celebrate 50th – 70th reunions. The day began with a tour of the Senior School and for some it was the first time back since graduation. Much excitement ensued as classmates were discovered in grad photos and on the honour roll board in the Alumnae Art and Photo Gallery. They were thrilled to see how York House has grown since their days at the school. “We ‘Old Girls’ will never cease being in awe of the ‘new’ York House!” “The school has changed since we walked the halls of history and having that transcribed onto the current walls is very special and shows we aren’t forgotten! We were and are still so proud to be Yorkies.”

A highlight in the gallery was an exhibit of marionettes and puppets from the collection of former art teacher and founder, Virginia (Moore) Mackay who taught at York House for 38 years. All recalled making marionettes in art classes and there was great appreciation for this gift from Virginia’s step-granddaughter, Catherine (Carter) Nightingale ’76. Catherine commented, “It was delightful to talk to the women who went through school in the original buildings and to hear their memories of my grandmother and the marionettes.”
On visiting the YHS Museum & Archives, alumnae travelled back to their time at York House through the many exhibits of past uniforms, the original old houses where their classes were held, and class reunion photo boards prepared by archivist and curator, Susannah Smith.

The tour culminated with the unveiling of a new museum display case in the Gail Ruddy Foyer. This most thoughtful gift from Margaret (Shepard) Walwyn ’55, celebrates three generations of proud Yorkies including her daughter, Head Girl and past YHS Foundation Chair Catharine (Walwyn) Turner ’84, and granddaughters Megan (Class of 2015) and Claire (Class of 2017). The family recognition plaque reads “Always a Yorkie” and now treasures from the archives can be brought out for display to share YHS history and traditions with the whole community.

At the luncheon, Ragazza, the Senior School ensemble performed the old school hymn “Unto the Hills” and alumnae were invited to sing along with them for the school song, “Onward and Upward.” Fiona (Gr. 12), Saskia (Gr. 11), and Jasmine (Gr. 11) sang solos from their own repertoires. Grade 4 presented a lively rendition of the much loved “York House School March“, which was composed by the late Patty (Cochrane) Bennett ’49. Golden grads commented how they “loved seeing the junior students playing outside” while they enjoyed their luncheon. Senior School Head Girl, Maggie, and Junior School Head Girl Risa shared their favourite school experiences and the ladies let us know that “we all enjoyed it so much, especially the performances and speeches by the girls.”

Lisa (Greczmiel) Roberts ’82, President of the Alumnae Association presented Helen (Larmonth) Hughes ’50 with the 2016 Alumnae Lifetime Achiever award. Helen was nominated by her class and is the first recipient of this new Association award. Although officially retired after 18 years serving on the Victoria City Council, Helen continues to volunteer and still follows the school motto “Not for ourselves alone.” She has received numerous accolades throughout her life for her community service including the Order of Canada, YHS Alumnae Special Achiever for Community Service, honorary degrees from the Universities of Saskatchewan and Victoria, the Chancellor’s Community Recognition Award from Royal Rhodes, the Maclean Award for Outstanding Service by a Woman in Municipal Politics, a Lifetime Achievement Award from Leadership Victoria, a Generosity of Spirit Award sponsored by the Victoria Foundation, a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal among others.

50th, 60th, and 70th pins were presented and class reps and volunteers were recognized for their work in bringing their classes together and organizing class reunion gifts. The class celebrating 50 designated the Alumnae Scholarship and the class celebrating 60, the Founders Scholarship. The luncheon came to a close with the precious delivery of green and gold wrapped Yorkie chocolates by Grade 1 and 2 students.

Click here to see all the photos from the Golden Alumnae Luncheon.