We Are The Learnary

Our Staff

Sam Mills

Sam is an educator and an unschooler. She has a M.A. in Educational Studies, with a focus on democratic education and co-created pedagogy. Her favourite thing to do is to work with people to co-create spaces, systems and activities that allow people to support themselves and each other. In addition to The Learnary, Sam runs a small business providing academic and self regulation support for self directed learners called Touchstone Sessions.  Some of the other projects she has been involved with include: Windsor House Democratic School, Playgroup Co-Facilitator, Village Free School, Capilano College Adult Basic Education, Humanities 101, and Bamfield Community School. (Photo credit: Ro Cran)

Surya Govender

Surya has tried her hand at more than a few jobs, from personal shopping, community garden building, and tractor driving to health research, government bureaucracy, and university instructor. But none has suited her as well as this one. At her core, she is an educator, writer, and maker of things. As an artist, she loves to play with textiles, colour, and, of course, learning new things all the time. 

Surya is also the co-parent of two children and a dog and she is studying to become an art therapist. 

Sarah McKinnon

Sarah MacKinnon is a weaver of words and threads, an artist, a pattern and number lover, an analytical thinker, an editor, a food allergy educator, a ukulele player, and a mother of two. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Textiles from NSCAD University. Sarah arrived in Vancouver from Halifax in 2001 and has lived in Hastings Sunrise since 2012.

We love the story of how we met. When The Learnary first opened, Sarah walked in the door and offered to help warp our community loom. From there, she just kept finding ways to help, until we couldn't imagine the Learnary without her!

Our Board

Chantelle Coulson (Chair)

lives in East Vancouver, and is excited to contribute to the East Van community and to the important work done at the Learnary. Chantelle’s background is in biology and environmental conservation, social justice, and in law. She has experience volunteering and working for non-profit, grassroots organizations and in providing education to communities on environmental stewardship and human rights issues. She currently works as Crown counsel in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and is passionate about working in collaborative, community-based settings to address social justice issues.

Pam Mantaring (Financial Officer)

 is a lifelong learner. She enjoys co-creating spaces for individuals to come together and learn more about themselves and each other, than they would alone. As a Performance Coach, she applies her curiosity and enthusiasm to help developing businesses grow by using technology. Pam is excited to give back to the East Vancouver community she now calls home.

Kirsten Bradford (Member at Large)

is a curious neighbor of The Learnary and a proud member of the Hastings-Sunrise Community. She has a background in Marine Biology and Sustainable Community Development and is passionate about fostering communities that are connected to nature and each other. You can find Kirsten cycling through the city looking for forgotten treasures, or in her backyard playing with dirt. 

Helen Hughes (Member at Large)

founded Windsor House School, a public school experiment in non-coercive democratic education that's been running 50 years or so. She also raised three children, is the grandparent of four, and the great-grandparent of one! Helen is an activist for social and environmental justice, an advocate for young people and a beloved community member.