Student Feature: Dawn Deguire

By Dawn Deguire, 2016 program graduate

Dawn DeguireFor many Indigenous organizations and communities, communications is a greatly needed and vastly under-resourced function. Walking into pilot communications role as an intern four years ago, I learned much by doing. I was tasked with building a communications program from the ground up. Balancing tactical work while working strategically in both internal and external contexts, has been my greatest challenge.

Working to meet the communication needs of an organization of 250 employees throughout several locations, I often find myself stretched very thin. When I found the Public Relations program I knew it was the exact education base I needed--I’ve had so many on-the-job questions that have been answered by course content and gained practical tools that can be immediately implemented. 

My first challenge was learning how to navigate the online environment, re-learning how to learn, all while balancing work, life and school deadlines. The program gave me a good boost in time management skills, online research and staying up-to-date on current affairs. I also enjoyed the ease of home schooling free from the hassles of a campus atmosphere. I enjoyed the flexibility of studying from anywhere and hope this program has future plans to expand to a degree program.

Overall, course content was highly structured, textbook resources were valuable, and each course gave me a higher understanding about PR. Content often tapped into what I believed was my unique situation, but soon found PR professionals share many of these challenges.

I found the student dialogue and sharing from an array of professionals in all kinds of fields helped greatly to learn the tricks of professionals working in established communications programs and get new creative ideas. I found value in learning Canadian content taught by high calibre instructors with Canadian values.

I grew professionally along with each course as they coincided with the knowledge base I needed to fulfill my job, and personally. In the ethics course, I was given the opportunity to re-examine my values. Managing the PR Function helped me set new personal and professional goals that align with communication excellence. I was super uplifted by Sherrell Steele’s [instructor of Communitation Planning and Research & Evaluation] encouragement about my critical thinking talents and potential to work in research, and ended off my diploma learning about the historical context of PR with Nigel Atkin [instructor of Evolution of PR]. This was my favorite course, as I share the value in understanding the cyclical nature of current affairs through historical examination.

This program has helped me show my organization the value communications brings. The pilot has resulted in leaders at my organization making investments in communication, no doubt credit to the specialized knowledge and professionalism that this program as instilled in me as an employee.

I’m proud to say I’m a graduate of the University of Victoria Public Relations Program. I recommend this program to working professionals who are being groomed, like me, into PR professionals or those already seasoned and looking for a valuable career boost.

Dawn Deguire is the Communications Officer at Saskatoon Tribal Council in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Program News

Mary Jane MartinNew Instructor for Ethics and Public Relations

We are pleased to welcome Mary Jane Martin as our new instructor for "Ethics and Public Relations" this year.

Mary Jane Martin is a communication management consultant specializing in corporate, digital and internal communication. She is the recipient of a number of national awards in writing and communication planning and was named Public Relations Practitioner of the Year by CPRS Toronto in 2012. Mary Jane has a BA (Hons.) in Film Studies from Queens University,  a Post Graduate Certificate in Public Relations from Humber College and a MS in Communication Management from Syracuse University. She is an accredited member and Fellow of the Canadian Public Relations Society.  She was also chair of IABC Toronto’s Professional Independent Communicators group and serves as a judge for the Gold Quill Awards, a global communications awards program. 

Q&A with Mary Jane Martin

We had the opportunity to ask Mary Jane a few questions about her upcoming course Ethics and Public Relations, her passion for teaching and PR, her dream vacation and much more. Enjoy.

What profession would you have chosen, if not public relations? Why?

I would have been a video producer.  My undergraduate degree is in Film and I have worked on a hundreds of video projects over the years. I enjoy the collaborative, storytelling process.  With YouTube receiving over a billion unique visitors a month I'd like to think I'd always have a job. 

What type of industry experience you have that brought you into the teaching environment?

As a public relations consultant, I have experience working in a variety of industries and sectors. One of my long-term clients is a large financial institution where I have developed a number of instructional videos.I have also worked on training modules and broad-based educational programs for various provincial ministries. 

What you like the most about teaching?

The people I meet and get to know. I see teaching as a partnership between student and instructor–both need to be involved and engaged in the learning process. That means I get to know my students as much as they know me. That personal connection is very powerful and rewarding.  I also think we all learn something when we are collaborating and sharing ideas. 

What career advice would you give to learners who are entering or advancing in public relations and communications?

Act with integrity. One of the hallmarks of public relations is a strong ethical base and a commitment to contribute to the public good while also serving the interests of our organization or clients. Many in our industry believe ethics is the distinguishing characteristic between a real public relations practitioner and someone with communication or persuasive skills merely pretending to do public relations work. Staying true to your core values in this "post-truth" world can be a challenge (see Anne Gregory’s post here).   That's why I think you will enjoy the PR and Ethics course.  We'll discuss "fake news," alternative facts," and other challenges we face on a regular basis and we'll develop some strategies to help you navigate this sometimes murky territory.  I promise some very thought-provoking discussions!

After a long day working, how do you unwind? 

I like going for a swim but if it is too late for that, I like watching British crime dramas. 

Which famous person (dead or alive) would you like to have dinner with? 

I would like to have dinner in Edinburgh with Scottish author, Ian Rankin. While he predominately writes mystery novels, he has written a book on Edinburgh and I'd like to grab some take-out food and walk around "Writers' Block" and other famous Edinburgh streets with Rankin as my personal guide. 

Your main go-to is: desktop, tablet or phone?

I work primarily with digital/mobile teams so either tablet or mobile phone. 

Your dream vacation destination is?

I would like to visit Ireland and Scotland. 

Which talents would most like to have?

I wish I was multi-lingual.  I'd love to be able to speak Italian, for example, and convey every nuance of the language.  

2018 Program Schedule is now available

View the schedule here 

Please note: all courses are subject to minimum enrolment and the schedule is subject to change.  Early registration is recommended as courses can reach capacity quickly.

Convocation NewsConvocation News

Congratulations to thirty six PR graduates who celebrated completion of the program in November 2016 & June 2017! 

  • Jennifer Alice Pollyne Wyness, Calgary AB
  • Lesa Converse, Edmonton AB
  • Dawn Darlene Deguire, Saskatoon SK
  • Lauren Nicole Macdonald, Burlington ON
  • Louise M. Paget, Richmond BC
  • Daniel Victor Wall, Williams Lake BC
  • Tara Allaire, Red Rock ON
  • Rommi-Nadine Applebaum, Toronto ON
  • Jessica Lauren Barrett, Mississauga ON
  • Steven Baxter, Niagara-on-the-Lake ON
  • Meagan Victoria Blaquiere, Victoria BC
  • Kiran Kaur Budwal, Victoria BC
  • Jaclyn Rae Chapman, Nanaimo BC
  • Janet Catherine Coombs, St. John's NL
  • Benjamin Dudley Coulter, Vernon BC
  • Hazel June Currie, Victoria BC
  • Kathryn Anne Dafos, Victoria BC
  • Kristen Danczak, Fort St. John BC
  • Ashley Renée Goode, Wetaskiwin AB
  • Karen Johnsrud, Edmonton AB
  • Nicole M. LeBlanc, Petawawa ON
  • Ainslee Lynn Leczynski, Victoria BC
  • Cheryl Joy Lythall, Fort St. John BC
  • Iris Iliana Merino, Toronto ON
  • Samantha Montgomery, Vancouver BC
  • Taniesha Mäkinen, Finland
  • Bronwyn Pavey, Iqaluit NU
  • Donna Petrie, Victoria BC
  • Robyn Rebecca Florence Pike, St. John's NL
  • Stephanie Ann Ross, Vancouver BC
  • Kieran Stuart Kobitz, Saskatoon SK
  • Amber Stuparyk, Cold Lake AB
  • Miriam Elizabeth Anne Upshall, St. John's NL
  • Lesley Eileen White, Abbotsford BC
  • Sherrylynn Williams, Kemptville ON


Nearing Graduation?

The next convocation ceremony will take place in November 2017. To be eligible to participate, your coursework must be completed by August 31, 2017. Please submit your Application to Graduate by August 15, 2017. More information on convocation is available from the Ceremonies and Events Office


LinkedIn Page

Check out our program LinkedIn page to stay connected and learn about program updates, registration information and PR news. Click here to join. 

Awards and Bursaries

Division of Continuing Studies Bursary 

Each term the Division of Continuing Studies offers bursaries to assist learners in furthering their education.  Bursaries are awarded to learners who can display evidence of a commitment to lifelong learning and who can demonstrate financial need.  Application deadlines are January 15 and August 31. Applications are available online on our Info for Students page.

CPRS/CNW Student Award of Excellence

The CPRS and CNW Group offer a Student Award of Excellence.  This award recognizes student excellence in the PR field.  Eligible students must be currently enrolled in their final year (or equivalent) of a recognized, full-time PR program, instructed in a Canadian post-secondary institute. Students must be studying at an undergraduate, diploma or certificate level. For further information, application forms and deadlines visit the CPRS website.

Torchia Student Scholarship 

Torchia Scholarship will be awarded to a student who has chosen to study public relations/communications in one of Canada's two official languages that is not his/her first language or mother tongue. The scholarship is valued at $1,500 and is for one year only.  For further information, application forms and deadlines visit the CPRS website.

Denis Racine Student Bursary

This annual $500 bursary is available to CPRS-VI student members who live on Vancouver Island or the Gulf Islands, are registered in a communications-based post-secondary educational program, and have completed three or more courses. For further information, application forms and deadlines visit the CPRS-VI website.

  • Posted June 22, 2017