Selkirk College, Attn: Leesa Dean
301 Frank Beinder Way, Castlegar BC, V1N 4L3, Canada
Originally from Cranbrook, BC, Leesa Dean is a graduate of the University of Guelph’s Creative Writing MFA program and holds an Honour’s BA in English Literature. Her first book, Waiting for the Cyclone, was nominated for the 2017 Trillium and Relit Awards for fiction. Her poetry chapbook, The Desert of Itabira, was published in 2020. Over the past ten years, she has published widely in literary journals across Canada in addition to serving as the Interviews Editor for the Humber Literary Review and co-founding Selkirk College’s own Black Bear Review.
Contributing to Learners & the Community
Leesa’s dream is to help expand the vibrant arts community here in the Kootenays and to inspire everyone to integrate the creative arts into their daily lives and work. Service-learning is an important component of her educational approach, which is why she decided to create the Black Bear Review, a student-run literary journal, with fellow faculty members Renee Harper and Almeda Miller. “The students take care of all aspects of the magazine,” Dean says, “from writing the content to making editorial decisions to marketing and design. Having the opportunity to watch them create and sustain this literary community first-hand has been one of the highlights of my career.”
Why Leesa loves Selkirk College
“Teaching at this college is a dream for me,” Leesa says. “My mother attended the nursing program here in 1971 and spoke highly of the experience, and through my years living in Toronto and Montreal, I always hoped I’d be able to settle in my home region. I’ve taught at much larger institutions, sometimes with a student population of 50,000 students, and I think here at Selkirk we are able to go much deeper with our students due to the small class sizes and intimacy of rural living. We teach, support and mentor, and then we maintain relationships long after our classes have finished, when we end up being collaborators in the community.”
Leesa’s Diverse Work Experience
- Worked for the Katimavik program for ten years, an alternative education program for Canadian youth aged 17 to 21.
- Taught ESL in Montreal, Toronto, and on farms in British Columbia and Ontario.
- Taught English at Humber College in Toronto prior to being hired at Selkirk.
- As a professional writer, her fiction, non-fiction, poetry and interviews have been published widely in Canadian magazines, journals, and on the web.
- Has designed and taught a variety of Creative Writing courses to youth and adults over the past ten years, including for ex-prisoners and people suffering from extreme poverty.
Outside of Work
“When you’re a writer, there’s no such thing as a life outside of work,” Leesa jokes. “Even when you’re at rest, your head is still inside whatever book you’re writing.” Nonetheless, she loves to spend time with her family, local artist and Selkirk instructor Matty Hillman and their daughter Scarlett Heart. Together they tour local beaches, travel the world, and work on their gardening skills in the spirit of preparing for the apocalypse. She is also part of the planning committee for the annual Elephant Mountain Literary Festival in Nelson, BC.