Former islander wins prestigious award

  • May. 30, 2003 6:00 p.m.

Former islander Sarah de Leeuw has won a prestigious award from the Canadian Association of Geographers for her master’s thesis ‘Along Highway 16: A Creative Meditation on he Geography of Northern British Columbia’.
Ms de Leeuw moved to Port Clements and attended grades 4-6 in Port Clements, and Queen Charlotte Secondary from grades 7-9, until her family relocated to Terrace in the late 1980’s.
“My master’s thesis looks at creative voice and story as a way of looking at landscape. Some of my most vivid memories are from the Queen Charlottes. The transition from childhood to adolescence took place there, and I formed a connection to the islands. Those formative years on the Charlottes were integral to my desire to explore home, place and rural communities,” Ms de Leeuw said.
She received her Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing from University of Victoria, and is now working on a master’s degree in Geography from UNBC. Few people in geography have a fine arts background, she says. In her work she wants to bring together creative practices and geography.
Geography spans everything from hard science to cultural studies “from rocks to novels” says Ms de Leeuw. “What I was interested in was to view creatively produced information as a type of geographic knowledge equitable and equal to a map,” she says. A map, say of Port Clements, gives a geographer certain types of information, she says. “The point I wanted to make is that we should be able to read an essay or a poem about Port Clements and view it as equally informative and equally geographically important as a map.”
More geographers should be out writing poems, painting landscapes and carving, for instance, as a way of understanding geography and understanding geographic information, according to Ms de Leeuw.
She was presented with the award June 3 during the Canadian Association of Geographers annual conference in Victoria.