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Hendrika (Hetty) M. van Gurp

Doctor of Civil Law

Hendrika (Hetty) Margaretha van Gurp was born in Delft, Holland and educated at Mount Saint Vincent University from which she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree (1982); a Bachelor of Education degree (1986) and, in 1992, a Master of Education degree. For 30 years (1969-1999) she was a classroom teacher and a principal which included extensive and varied assignment in Canada and the U.S.A. In addition to teaching in the public schools, Ms. Van Gurp has taught students with special needs as a resource teacher and as a teacher at the School for the Blind in Montreal. Currently she is an adjunct professor at Mount Saint Vincent University, teaching on a part-time basis.

The year 1991 was a turning point in her life. Her son, Benjamin, died after an incident with a bully. His Mother resolved to take action. ?Can?t we all just get along? she asked. She set out with the aim of ridding school of violence by teaching about peace. Starting with her own students, Hetty worked to foster a class atmosphere which discouraged all forms of aggression. Initially, she probably never imagined that her ideas would spread to such diverse areas as Northern Ireland, Asia, and Russia. Since 1991, she has served as a peace educator and consultant to schools across Canada and internationally. During this time she introduced the concept of peer mediation to schools in Nova Scotia and still regularly conducts training sessions for students, educators, and community members. The media frequently consult her on issues related to safe schools. She is also frequently invited to deliver keynote addresses at local and national conferences.

Hetty has served on several national working groups to develop and coordinate guiding principles for safe schools. In 1998 she co-founded the League of Peaceful Schools, an organization which supports schools which are committed to creating a safe and peaceful environment. Following an extensive visit to Japan, Serbia, and Macedonia in 2001, she established Peaceful Schools International which is headquartered at Clemensport, Nova Scotia. She is its President and ambitiously fosters its objective which is to provide international support to schools committed to creating a culture of peace. Saint Mary's was the first post-secondary institution to apply and be granted membership in this organization.

Given Ms. Van Gurp?s untiring work on peaceful schools, it is not surprising that her talents have been sought by many organizations and that she has received many honours. A few of these are noted. In 1995 she was appointed to a two-year term as a member of the federal Human Rights Tribunal Panel followed one year later by receiving the YMCA Peace Medal. In 1998 she was presented with the Nova Scotia School Administrators? Association ?Principal of Distinction Award? That same year, Hetty was awarded a Baha?i Commendation for ?Promoting Racial Harmony? and, in 1999, she received the Annual Crime Prevention of Nova Scotia Award. She was awarded the Queen?s Jubilee Medal in 2003.

In addition to her presentations, Hetty is the author of three books, Peace in the Classroom; Peaceful Schools: Models That Work; and Peer Meditation: A Complete Training Manual. She is also the co-creator of the Peace @ Schools toolkit.

She and her husband, Ward Carson, reside in Granville Ferry, Nova Scotia.