Elizabeth MacGillivray helps communities thrive

One instructor’s approach to empowered living and families

When Elizabeth MacGillivray was working as a case worker for the government of Alberta, she supported families to develop and implement family visions that connected their strengths, resources, and needs. This included working directly with families to help ensure they could stay together.

“When we looked at a family’s community, it was essential to identify the resources that they can access such as schools, community centres, and local agencies,” says Elizabeth, who teaches in the School of Community Studies at Bow Valley College.
Elizabeth often worked with families with mental health concerns and developmental needs, where she connected them to community partners that could give them the support they needed. By combining her skills in supporting families and communities, she supported, highlighted, and enhanced families, connecting them to the tools and resources they needed to stay united. 

Elizabeth has been working in human services for over 16 years, and has been teaching at Bow Valley College since 2014. She’s an instructor in four programs: addiction studies, disability studies, FASD education, and health and human services management. Her passion for community work developed when she was working as a before- and after-school counsellor. “It was a diverse area. When you connected to each child, each child has strengths, talents, and preferences, and the families could access support if needed,” she says. 

When asked what Elizabeth enjoys about her work, she says it’s seeing that individuals, families, and communities can achieve anything. These days, she’s passionate about challenging the way we look at people with addiction, disabilities, and mental health difficulties. One way we can do that is by changing the language we use to refer to these groups. For example, instead of saying an addict, we say a person who has substance use disorder.      

Besides her accomplished background, Elizabeth brings another skill to the classroom: she’s a registered yoga instructor. She has utilized her practice at the College in a variety of ways, from teaching staff, to getting her students to tune out in times of stress. 

Are you interested in doing the kind of work Elizabeth does? Visit the School of Community Studies for program information.

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Posted on February 26, 2018

Story by Julie-Anne Cleyn

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