I grew up on a picturesque farm on the (Canadian) Mississippi River, near Almonte, Ontario, in the Ottawa Valley, and was a keen 4-H club member; honours BHSc graduate of University of Guelph – 1969; County Home Economist for Carleton and Grenville Counties, Ontario Department of Agriculture and Food; moved to Toronto as a newlywed; joined General Foods as a Test Kitchen Home Economist; founded and was consultant, Cardinal Kitchens, a division of Cardinal Biologicals Ltd (founded by husband, Bill) – conducted recipe development and testing, food styling, sensory evaluation, product tolerance testing, package directions – for over 35 years; authored Cardinal’s Handbook of Recipe Development, a textbook used extensively by corporate test kitchens and universities in Canada and US; retired from most consulting services in 2015; currently Vice-President of Cardinal Biologicals Ltd.; past member of Ryerson Curriculum Advisory Board; other interests include: travel with my husband, family activities (3 adult children, spouses and 3 grandchildren), founding co-chair of church-based community program called Café 65; painting classes.
How long have you been involved with OHEA and what roles did you hold?
Joined OHEA in the mid 1980’s; Professional Development Committee, doing early detailed work towards registration of the profession; Co-chaired Professional Development Committee at the time leading up to registration and was the main OHEA liaison, through OHEA’s lawyer, with the MPP presenting the legislation to parliament, in its many stages; Co-chaired committee re Reciprocity Agreement with other provincial home economics associations to ensure that mobility from one province to another would protect the registered status of individual Professional Home Economists; Vice-President and then President of OHEA (2002-2004) during time when CHEA was disbanding and thus spread message of the need to strengthen OHEA in the wake of this gap; emphasized importance of liaisons among OHEIB, OFSHEEA and branch home economics associations.
Why did you keep your OHEA membership?
The ideals of home economics remain dear to me so support does not stop with retirement. I feel part of the community of Professional Home Economists and enjoy continued contact and the opportunity to keep up to date with the contributions and knowledge of new professionals in our field. Others helped me when I was at an earlier stage – perhaps I can help sometimes now, too. OHEA has been a place for personal as well as professional development – and a place to build skills and great friendships. Each person’s support helps to strengthen the association.
How has being a PHEc positively impacted your life?
The Professional Home Economist title (or PHEc. designation, written after our name) is our brand and our way of projecting to the public the unified message that our services are professional, regulated and reliable. I respect the title and I feel we should use it at every opportunity. I am proud to have been part of the team which brought this status to our members. Our dedicated team wrote the Act and Bylaws to govern our own association, we presented them to the provincial legislature and we reached our goal. It was an empowering experience to have been so closely involved in the process of introducing a new law in Ontario through our parliamentary procedures to achieve an aim which benefits society in general. It showed me that, with earnest effort towards a cause, small groups can achieve positive change and … if we could do this, we could do other great things, too.
What led you to join OHEA?
To help build a strong provincial association, which would be a good base for projecting a message of the importance of home economics in everyday life for families. To be a part of a larger “team” to promote our knowledge-based professional services. To be part of a forum to link like-minded professionals from across the province - to understand my place in the profession (not just my own job) by seeing it in a broader way and to learn of the different career paths and roles of various members.
How has the profession changed over the years?
I feel that the profession has lost a great deal of recognition in the public’s eyes (since the 60’s and 70’s, when home economists were noted influencers in communities) but, at the same time, its teachings are of vital importance to the well-being of individuals and families today, as well. I think the public has not perceived our optimal value to the community because we have not always marketed our services well – it has been like a well-kept secret among us. For example, to think that many young adults (including some new immigrants) today are not confident about how to prepare healthy meals for themselves or their families shows a real need for our reliable services of teaching and demonstrating both the importance of basic food skills and the enjoyment of mealtimes. Many Professional Home Economists have an opportunity, with the introduction of the revised Canada’s Food Guide, to proclaim their credentials and be among the key professionals, with solid background knowledge, to empower individuals to develop better eating habits.
Where do you see the profession going over the next five to 10 years?
I feel we could choose a cause and promote it and then continue to broaden our influence from there to other causes. As for one specific area, I am very supportive of seeing the reintroduction of Home Economics into the school curriculum – for, at the very least, basic food preparation skills for young people. Professional Home Economists could take the lead in this initiative.
An original piece of work
Career Development for Professional Home Economists - presented to Ontario Home Economists in Business - Feb ‘06
Wanting to learn more information about OHEA's history? Join us on March 23 for our annual conference which will be held in London, Ontario at Brescia University College. Visit oheaconference.ca or ohea.on.ca for more information about the agenda, speakers and to register. We look forward to seeing you there!