Raised so far
Elizabeth Leslie Alexander (nee Chisholm) was a UBC alumna. She was born and raised in Port Alberni by accomplished gardeners and nature enthusiasts, Ruth (Ruby Nickerson) and Dr. Laurie Chisholm. Leslie was the eldest of two children and spent her summers enjoying the many lake and forest activities of the Sproat Lake region.
These experiences would later inform her commitment to conservation and nature education for youth and adults alike. She felt all Canadians should be supported to develop a sense of comfortable location along the beaches of Canada, under great and majestic trees, or simply gardening in one’s own garden or community plot. Artist as much as educator, Leslie helped vulnerable youth to see the beauty and connection between the nature waiting to be discovered within as much as without. She passed away December 30th, 2016 at the age of 75.
Leslie graduated from the UBC Teacher Training Program in 1970 and with a BA in French and English in 1968, before gaining her BC Teacher’s Federation certificate in 1971. She enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a teacher, counsellor and workshop leader for the Surrey School Board. Her work deeply impacted students, many of whom would not have completed school without her steady guidance and support. Leslie had the courage, care and skill to assist new and experienced teachers as they navigated personal and professional challenges in their careers. Committed to best practices in education and psychology, she was a devoted student and ambassador for the works and ideas of Dr. Caleb Gattegno and Jungian psychologist Marion Woodman, and regularly attended professional development seminars on Gabriola Island. As the long time chair of the Step Ahead program with entertainer and activist Leon Bibb, she was able to express her commitment to issues of social justice, equality and fair access for all to programs and educational opportunities. Passionate about lifelong learning, Leslie truly excelled as a mother and mentor figure to the many youth, educators and friends she inspired, motivated and assisted to live their best and most interesting lives.
As both a French and ESL teacher, Leslie spent many hours assisting new immigrants to gain confidence with their new language and home. She taught all levels of education including a year in Paris at the Law Faculty. Her experience over many decades of working with youth from the full spectrum of personal and social challenges made Leslie an excellent organizational change consultant and trainer both within and outside the school culture. She was sensitive to the many barriers vulnerable populations face daily and always interested to help improve the lives of others through friendship and going ‘that bit further’. Always on the go, she was an avid reader and gardener and enjoyed writing and sketching.
Leslie’s extended education, work history and other accomplishments are as follows:
1959: Banff School of Fine Arts Advanced Certificate in French
1968: Bachelor of Arts – English and French, UBC
1970: Teacher Training Program, UBC
1993: Master’s Degree in Counselling Psychology, Antioch University
1994: Diploma in Counselling P.D. Seminars
From 1976 to the mid-90’s Leslie completed a number of workshops, training programs and classes ranging from the study of languages, to educational awareness.
Leslie was an English, French, and ESL teacher, counsellor and organizational development facilitator for over 40 years in BC, having been a BCTF Associate since 1980. Her many schools included:
Len Shepherd Junior Secondary School, 1971-74/1975-76
William Watson Elementary School, 1978-79 (with special needs students, 10 to 14 year olds)
Grade Ten Challenge Program, 1979-80 (working with vulnerable youth)
Discovery Elementary School, 1980-82, (Adlerian model alternate elementary teacher)
Frank Hurt Secondary School, 1982-91
Johnston Heights Secondary School, 1994-95
L.A. Matheson, Counsellor, 1996-03, 2006-07, 2008-10
On-Call Teacher, 2003-06, 2010-15
Gilford Park, 2007
1983 – Architect and implementer of the initial district Multicultural Camp for teachers and
1990 – Educational ambassador of B.C. for the Pacific Rim Initiative Program
1990s – Chair, Step Ahead Foundation with Leon Bibb
1990s – Organizational Development Work for Surrey School District, BCTF & private
The impact of your support
Leslie lived her life in service of others. In her memory, the Leslie Alexander Memorial Fund has been established at UBC, and will support visits to the UBC Botanical Garden for vulnerable children, youth and adults.
Your gift will honour Leslie’s commitment to connecting people with nature, by supporting more people to access the unique treasure that is the UBC Botanical Garden. Your donation will enrich the lives of underserved youth and adults and truly celebrate the values and accomplishments of one of the bright lights in the field of personal growth and education.
To learn more about how your gift will impact community outreach at the UBC Botanical Garden visit: