By John Ployer
Dr. Catherine Innes-Parker
After the sudden passing of Dr. Catherine Innes-Parker in early September, students and faculty alike have taken the time to remember her as a great woman who had a big impact on the UPEI community.
A large crowd gathered in the Steel Recital Hall last Friday in a Celebration of Catherine Innes-Parker’s life which saw many faculty, students, and community members attend.
Speakers included members of the UPEI faculty and Sister Sue Kidd who provided an invocation. Music was provided on the piano by Dr. Frances Gray.
Dr. Greg Doran of the English Department, who hosted the event, called Dr. Innes-Parker a great educator who’s biggest interests were her family and her work.
He says that Dr. Innes-Parker was greatly loved by the students who had gotten to know her.
“Even if they weren’t thrilled with medieval literature, it was more about taking a class with Catherine that interests a lot of students”
Dr. Doran noted that Dr. Innes-Parker was a key figure in the English Department, one who was always there to enrich the community.
“Catherine was just a great colleague, one who was always there to help”
Dr. Innes-Parker started her career at UPEI in 1997, teaching in the English Department with her speciality being medieval literature.
Along with multiple faculty to spoke highly of Innes-Parker at the celebration of her life, students who had gotten to work with her over the years also expressed their appreciation of her to The Cadre.
UPEI student Jaidene Webbe remembers her many unique traits.
“She was warm, understanding and gentle with a bit of ‘pizazz,’” she said.
“She always wore bright colours like pink or purple in her hair which I found to be cool but odd for a woman of her age. I remember boldly asking her, ‘What’s up with the coloured hair’ and she replied, ‘You are as young as you feel’ (flips hair behind her ears).”
Webbe says that her relationship with Dr. Innes-Parker developed during their time in class together and continued until her death.
“I was fortunate to have her as a professor during the Winter 2018 semester. Our first encounter was not a bed of roses but once the ice was broken, the semester became smooth sailing. Our relationship expanded beyond the classroom walls and literature novels into something I will truly treasure forever.”
UPEI alumna Lorraine Rumson spoke of many of the ways that Innes-Parker improved her experience at UPEI, from taking her on as an honours student even though she was not doing a topic surrounding medieval literature, to letting her defend her thesis while her Mother was on PEI to watch it.
Rumson, who got to see Innes-Parker while she was on sabbatical in Oxford last winter, remembers Innes-Parker as a great mentor.
“Not many students are lucky enough to have even a single mentor like that in their academic careers. I feel very lucky for getting to see her once more after I graduated UPEI, and to see her as in her element as she was at Oxford.”
Dr. Innes-Parker is survived by her three children and hundreds of students positively effected by her teaching.
Read the full testimony from Lorraine and Jaidene here.