Art has always been a passion.
Robbie comes from a long line of artists.
mother is a highly creative soul and watercolour artist, as is his grandfather, and great-grandfather before him. As a small child,
he remembers watching his mother paint, in awe of her creativity. As he grew
older, he would often gaze with bewilderment at his great-grandfather’s
paintings that adorned several walls of his house. Even at a young age, he
loved the feeling of creating “something from nothing”. he would spend
countless hours sketching his favourite super-heroes and dreaming up new
characters of his own. He can still recall the excitement that he felt when
he completed a drawing. That feeling is addictive and is one that he still
craves to this day.
As a teenager, growing up in Barrie,
Ontario, he continued to enroll in his high school art classes, but the time
he spent sketching and drawing was replaced by afterschool workouts as well
as football or rugby practice. It wasn’t long before he found himself in
the whirlwind of university life. He studied health science at the
University of Western Ontario and indulged in the student lifestyle –
late nights, spending time with friends, working out, and studying. The
thought of creating anything but an essay or research paper was a distant
After completing his first degree, his wife
Nicole (girlfriend at the time) and him decided that they needed an adventure.
At the advice of my grandfather who said, “Education is something that
no one can take away from you”, he enrolled in teacher’s college at
the University of Waikato in New Zealand. His experience in New Zealand was
nothing short of amazing. The culture and pristine beauty of this country
cannot be compared. When he wasn’t attending classes, he was taking full
advantage of the warm climate and his beautiful surrounds by spending time
Upon returning from New Zealand with his teaching degree,
he soon found myself in a major dilemma – not only were
teaching jobs scarce in Ontario, but he desperately craved adventure and an
escape from the ordinary, mundane lifestyle he found myself in. When
searching the Internet one evening, he came across an advertisement for
teaching jobs in the North. Without hesitation, he completed the necessary
forms and submitted his CV.
A few months later, he received a phone call
about a potential teaching job opportunity. Two days and two interviews
later, Nicole and Robbie agreed to move to a small remote community in
the Northwest Territories. He was soon to be principal and K-3 teacher at
Alexis Arrowmaker School in Weweet’i. During his first year in the
North, he found himself in an art store purchasing a sketchpad and some
pencils. It had been a long time since he had sketched or drawn anything.
He is not sure what made him purchase these materials after so many years.
Perhaps it was the childlike voice inside his head urging him to regain
his former creativity… or maybe it was that the untouched landscape that
surrounded him was simply begging to be revealed… Either way, the beauty
of the North inspired him to connect with his creative side and passion