A career spent working for social justice has brought Randell Duguid back home to Prince Edward Island.
After 16 years gathering information and experience – Duguid worked with victims of sexualized violence in Vancouver’s lower east side and helped provide university education to incarcerated Canadians – she now works as a counselor at Holland College.
“I don’t want to be a band-aid,” she said. “I want to offer support but also work on advocacy for change.”
Last summer she was home visiting her family and her life partner, Island musician Irish Mythen. Amid the hustle and bustle of the Island summer she got an overwhelming feeling: it was time to come back.
“I said, I think it’s time. Like many Islanders I knew at some point I’d be home. PEI is always a piece of your heart.”
Duguid left Bedford at age 16 to attend the United World College Movement at Lester B. Pearson College. She and the other students attended on a full scholarship that removed all the social barriers between them.
“Youth from across the globe from every socioeconomic, racial and religious background studied alongside each other as leaders and change makers,” she said. “It was a phenomenal life experience that changed my world view and set me on the course I’ve been on ever since.”
Her 20s were filled with travel (Uganda, New Zealand, Thailand, Vancouver), work (she helped found Walls to Bridges, a collaborative education project that offers university courses to incarcerated Canadians) and education (bachelor’s degree in sociology and global studies at Wilfred Laurier, then a master’s in social work.)
Randell’s first year back on the Island has established her as an integral part of the community. She’s gotten involved with Serene View Ranch helping trauma survivors as an equine facilitated psychotherapist. She’s the Atlantic regional director for National Pride, and she’s the vice chair of the board for the Womens’ Network.
“PEI is so community oriented,” she said. “You see people’s lives up closer than you do in a bigger place. As humans we’re wired for that connection.”
She and Mythen live in downtown Charlottetown. They enjoy the beach and kayaking and she travels to Mythen’s international performances when she can.
“As a queer, intersectional feminist I imagined living in a small rural area would be challenging, but there is a strong momentum toward change and so many beautiful things are happening on the Island,” she said.
Duguid is close to her mother Karen Hooper and step-father Dave Sheehan, who still live in the Bedford home she grew up in. She’s working to encourage her sister, Logan, to come back to Prince Edward Island too.
“My feet have landed on the ground and I’m not leaving.”