The Port Theatre’s Samantha Letourneau received The Marie Gillen Award from Saint Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia for her research on defining safety for female learners affected by abuse and how the arts can help with the healing process. Letourneau is currently studying her Masters in Adult Education through distance classes at the university.

The Port Theatre’s Samantha Letourneau received The Marie Gillen Award from Saint Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia for her research on defining safety for female learners affected by abuse and how the arts can help with the healing process. Letourneau is currently studying her Masters in Adult Education through distance classes at the university.

Digging deep

The Port Theatre's Samantha Letourneau wins Marie Gillen Award.

A Canadian university has recognized one of the Port Theatre’s staff members for her research efforts.

Last month, Samantha Letourneau, marketing and community outreach coordinator for the Port Theatre, received the Marie Gillen Award from St. Francis Xavier University.

Letourneau picked up the award for her women’s studies research paper, which looks at how art can help women who have been victims of abuse.

“The research is specifically focusing on women in some form of development,” she said. “These women that I am studying all engage in the arts in some way. Not necessarily on a professional level. The arts have been very helpful to them.”

Letourneau, a graduate of the global studies program at Vancouver Island University, is currently working towards completing her masters through a distance education program at Nova Scotia’s St. Francis Xavier University.

She said that her research includes subjects from Nanaimo, who have been victims of some kind of abuse, whether it is physical or emotional.

“It is specifically looking at women learners who have encountered abuse, or who may still be in an abusive situation and how that impacts their ability to learn.”

Letourneau has previously worked for a variety of organizations such as the Nanaimo Women’s Centre, West Coast Legal Education Action Fund, the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development and the Central Vancouver Island Multicultural Society.

While working with the multicultural society in 2013, Letourneau organized an exhibition that showcased artwork created by artists and members of the community who had been discriminated against.

Letourneau said she has long held an interest in linking the arts with women’s studies.

“It’s something that I am deeply passionate about,” she said. “I think there is more that could be explored in it.”

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