- Why HSLDA
The Home School Legal Defence Association of Canada (HSLDA Canada) is a national membership-based organization that empowers, protects, and encourages homeschooling families across Canada.
As a not-for-profit organization, any funds that we receive are used to further our mission and goals. Our members have access to exclusive home education resources that provide support throughout their journey. HSLDA is thousands of member-families strong; united in purpose, providing strength and encouragement for homeschoolers across the country.
HSLDA’s mission is to enable, to empower, and to protect Canadian homeschooling families. As times change, our member families can be assured that HSLDA will be there to enable new families to begin to homeschool, to empower existing families to homeschool to the best of their ability, and to protect families across the country from whatever challenges may come their way.
The first homeschoolers in Canada faced many challenges. The general attitude from the public schools was quite antagonistic, as they were convinced that the government, not the parents, had the responsibility for educating children. As a result, most people were homeschooling “underground:” that is, without officially informing the school boards. As soon as school boards found out, parents were immediately under pressure to conform to the system, and even faced threats that their children would be removed from their homes because of “truancy.” However, the school boards were not the only source of parental pressure. In the early days, family or friends who found out about homeschooling would often ask: “Is that legal?”
HSLDA Canada was founded as the result of home education leaders in Canada connecting with HSLDA in the United States. Dan Reinhardt, a founding board member of HSLDA Canada recalls: “Dave Stasiewich invited the Founder of HSLDA USA, Mike Farris, to come speak at the Alberta conference for homeschoolers. What Mike described as the experience of homeschoolers in the USA ten years earlier was very similar to what we were going through in Canada then. The amazing success of HSLDA USA to strengthen the homeschooling movement was a great encouragement. At the end of his speech, Mike Farris polled the room with the question: ‘How many of you would support an HSLDA version in Canada?’ The audience response catalyzed a concerted effort to establish a legal presence for home educators north of the border.”
Two Californian lawyers, Mike Farris and Mike Smith, had the wisdom to recognize that HSLDA in Canada would need to be led by Canadians. In 1991, HSLDA was incorporated in Canada with Canadian legal support and with a primarily Canadian Board of Directors – and so the HSLDA adventure began in Canada. As one home educating pioneer shares: “We began to learn that homeschooling parents had rights under Canadian law that were being stepped on by overbearing school officials. HSLDA taught us how the law worked, and the limits that were on public school boards. Bolstered with this additional information, homeschooling parents began to stand for their rights in Canada.”
In 1993, HSLDA Canada hired its first staff lawyer, Dallas Miller. This also involved setting up a permanent head office and gradually hiring staff as home education in Canada grew. This growth continued until 2003 when HSLDA Canada hired a second lawyer, Paul Faris. In January 2005, Dallas Miller retired from HSLDA Paul Faris became president and legal counsel in his place.
Currently, HSLDA Canada is comprised of 12 staff members and is governed by a five-member Board of Directors.
Peter Stock is an experienced pro-family leader and strategist with nearly a quarter century of success in government, media and public relations. However, his journey to homeschooling began long before marriage and children. Despite a promising career in the mining industry, Peter answered the call to Ottawa to serve in the area of public policy.
As the Legislative Assistant to the Member of Parliament for Simcoe Centre, Peter was involved in speech writing, media relations, research and committee strategy. In addition, he co-founded the Canada Family Action Coalition. As the National Affairs Director, Peter successfully influenced public policy on various child protection issues. Peter also utilized his effective writing skills as a Parliament Hill Correspondent reporting on national issues. He continued working in public policy as the Chief of Staff to the Member of Parliament for South Surrey—White Rock—Cloverdale (British Columbia). Over the years Peter has developed expertise in several areas of policy, but his primary focus remained on family issues. He has played a significant role in legislative and judicial battles including, the age of consent; child pornography; definition of marriage; and, family taxation, to name just a few.
It did not take long for Peter to see that the homeschooling movement was a positive response to the culture-induced challenges that families are faced with. His career continued to be focussed on making or improving the law, and usually with legislation designed to protect children and families. Peter has successfully led the drafting of complex legislation and strategizing its passage through Parliament and into law. His experience with public policy, from conception to implementation, naturally progressed into protecting and promoting home education. Peter was selected as President of the Home School Legal Defence Association of Canada in 2017 succeeding Paul Faris.
For over 10 years Peter and his wife, Tarah, have homeschooled their four children. Peter’s deep appreciation for homeschooling also comes from sharing the teaching responsibilities with his wife. Peter balances his busy schedule by playing ball hockey and sailing on beautiful Lake Simcoe.
As President of HSLDA Canada, Peter continues to culminate his expertise and passion to serve homeschooling families across the country.
If you have heard about, read about, learned about, or been intrigued about HSLDA; if you have seen us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or YouTube; if you have received any communication via email, snail mail, or conference table, you have Bonnie Getty to thank. Bonnie is HSLDA’s expert in Marketing and Communications, and she is well-versed in getting out the word about HSLDA to both our members, and to the broader homeschooling community.
Bonnie’s educational experience is in an unexpected field given her current work: she studied at Fanshawe College in Design as a Fashion Major. After working in that field for a time, Bonnie chose to stay at home with her three children all of whom Bonnie and her husband, John, homeschooled through high school.
Bonnie took on many leadership roles in her 15 years of participation in her local homeschool support group, including Arts Coordinator and Program Director. In addition to her leadership skills, Bonnie has a great deal of insight into homeschooling children with special needs from her personal experience of working with, and advocating for, her daughter who lives with a physical disability and developmental delay. Also, Bonnie spent several years selling curricula at homeschool conferences and has a working knowledge of many of the available material options. She has been involved with the National Leadership Conference (NLC) and has a keen interest in developing new leaders. Having homeschooled through many difficulties, she has a passion to be an encouragement and support to other homeschooling families in trials.
This life experience combination makes Bonnie an expert on the day-to-day details of homeschooling and how to ensure that your children receive the individualized instruction they need.
Bonnie has continued her education by completing her Business Writing and Communications Professional Certificate, as well as taking Marketing Principles through Western University. Always striving to push her limits and give her all, she is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Management degree with a Marketing major.
Bonnie keeps very busy for HSLDA wearing a lot of hats (all of them fashionable!) and yet she still tries to find time for her creative, artistic pursuits of sewing and crocheting, attending plays, musicals, and operas, and enjoying being a grandmother.
The only thing better than hearing Kerry Mullenix’s reassuring and friendly voice on the phone, is seeing Kerry Mullenix’s radiant and welcoming smile in person at a conference. Fortunately, she feels the same way about her interactions with members. While she thoroughly enjoys being able to meet members’ needs over the phone or by email, she loves getting to meet these same people, face-to-face, at homeschool conferences.
Kerry Mullenix is HSLDA’s Member Services expert. Any question you bring her way she is either able to answer, or is able to point you in the right direction for the help you need. She is HSLDA’s first point of contact with members or with those who are considering homeschooling.
Kerry, and her husband, Jim, are parents to two grown sons. The oldest son was homeschooled for a number of years during which time Kerry participated in a homeschool support group that was an incredible help to her. Because of that experience, Kerry is highly motivated to encourage homeschooling families to find and join support groups. She wants them to know that there is a very large network of homeschooling families behind them and that they don’t need to strive alone. HSLDA is blessed to have such a compelling spokesperson in Kerry!
Before working at HSLDA, Kerry had a varied job history. She worked in banking and hairstyling, and also ran a home daycare for 25 years! Kerry began her work at HSLDA by being the part-time office assistant. Her work ethic and ability quickly elevated her to a full-time position in Member Services, and we are so very fortunate that she said yes to that job offer!
Kerry also enjoys crafting (for example, cardmaking and scrapbooking), cycling, and B&B travelling with her husband. And, HSLDA certainly hopes that a woman of Kerry Mullenix’s character and workload takes time to rest and to enjoy these hobbies after so ably serving others.
Laurie Pruim packs a lot of awesome into her petite frame.
Wife of Hank and mother to three grown children, Laurie wears many hats that make her well suited to meet the needs of HSLDA members. She homeschooled her children from birth to high school graduation; so, she can speak to all of the phases and stages of the homeschooling journey. While Laurie was primarily a stay-at-home mom during those years, she managed to work part-time in a variety of jobs at that time as well.
Knowing the great benefit to homeschooling support through community, Laurie has been actively involved with her local homeschooling group taking on leadership roles such as Gym Coordinator, Group Coordinator, and most recently, Communications.
Her expertise in homeschool leadership goes farther, though, as Laurie has previously served as an OCHEC board member.
At HSLDA, Laurie is our Member Services Assistant, and as a graduate of the Office Administration program at Fanshawe College ably serves both HSLDA staff and members. If you are applying for membership, renewing your membership, or attending the HSLDA booth at homeschool conferences, you have experienced Laurie’s diligent work.
At home now, Laurie and Hank are raising their great-nieces, adding the wonderful busyness of child-raising to this full time of their lives. If Laurie finds time to sit and relax (how can that be possible?), she enjoys reading, crocheting, knitting, gardening, and travelling.
Laurie Pruim is committed to helping families realize and develop their unique gifts for service, and to assist them in receiving the help and support they need. She is a great asset to the HSLDA family, and to our members’ families as well.
Angela began working at HSLDA serving in our finance department utilizing her experience as an administrator and bookkeeper. Angela is now HSLDA’s very capable Operations Manager.
Halifax born-and-raised, Angela is married to Calvin and together they have three grown children and several grandchildren, most of whom are homeschooled.
Angela’s previous work experience and education shows a real heart for serving others and for caring for ‘the least of these’. She has a diploma in Early Childhood Education and went to Mt. St. Vincent University for Child Development. Angela worked in a daycare where she was very happy to be outnumbered by little people! She also spent seven years as a Youth Worker in a residential home for at-risk youth. For seven years, Angela served as the Development Manager at Michael House Pregnancy Centre in Guelph. Michael House provides shelter and support to pregnant and young mothers who do not have a suitable home. In this role, Angela worked on fundraising, event planning, IT details, volunteer management, and website maintenance (and more!).
Angela homeschooled all of her children for 5 years, and she looks back on that season as being some of her favourite years. In addition to the challenges of being a busy homeschooling mom, Angela also worked with her son who is gifted and borderline Aspergers, with Non-Verbal Learning Disorder.
HSLDA is thrilled to have a woman with such extensive life experience, and such an evident heart for others, as well as a passion about a parent’s right to educate their own children.
When Angela is not at the HSLDA office, you can find her antiquing or restoring her 1873 stone home with her husband. But, her first love is playing with her grandkids!
HSLDA members can rest easy knowing Megen Zelinka has their backs. This Osgoode Hall Law School graduate safely guides our members through high-conflict situations, and finds satisfying solutions. Megen thoroughly reviews any proposed changes in legislation across the country with a fine-tooth comb; and, drafts counter-proposals that protect parental rights and honor the best interests of children.
Megen Zelinka is passionate about family and child protection issues. She pours her boundless energy into the meticulous work of legal counsel for HSLDA. Before graduating from law school, Megen also obtained a BA in political science. When she began law school, her interest riveted towards family and child protection because of the all-important issue of communication and relationship-building in this area of law. While a law student, she worked in family court, primarily with victims of domestic violence. After graduation, Megen worked for a law firm specializing in family and child protection issues. She later opened her own practice, focusing on child protection as the parents’ counsel. Prior to joining HSLDA, Megen represented homeschooling families both in and out of court.
Megen was also homeschooled from Kindergarten through high school which has clearly resulted in a contagious enthusiasm for home education. The tables have now been turned and she is successfully homeschooling her five children.
At the end of the day, when her work as a lawyer and her children’s homeschool day is complete, Megen devours books, especially the classics, such as Dumas, Austen, and Tolstoy.
HSLDA members in Quebec and French speaking Canada are fortunate to have Manon Fortin in their corner. This mother of four grown children, all homeschooled through high school, is an invaluable part of the HSLDA expert team. For the past six years, Manon has served in Member Services for the Francophone population of Québec as the Legal Assistant, ensuring that HSLDA members have received thorough representation and mediation before the school boards and social services.
With 15 years of experience as the founder and leader of the Trois-Rivières support group, Manon understands what kind of support homeschooling families need, and is able to arrange it for them. She also served on the ACPEQ board for a few years and continues to strengthen the homeschool community in many ways. Her involvement in the National Leadership Conferences (NLC) has also equipped her to serve HSLDA members.
While Manon has a degree in Arts and Media Technology, she has continued her learning by becoming a SMT Facilitator (Simultaneous Multisensory Teaching, which is a therapy that is accredited by the Canadian Dyslexia Association).
All of this training and life experience more than adequately qualifies Manon to encourage homeschooling families in any phase of their journey, including high school, special needs, and disagreements with the school board officials. Because of this, Manon is a sought after speaker at French language conferences.
When she isn’t supporting and assisting HSLDA members, Manon loves to spend time with her children, reading, skiing, and even knitting! Manon Fortin is a great asset to our French speaking members and to the HSLDA staff as she serves.
Born and raised in Quebec, Louise Frazer, Member Services Assistant, serves our Quebec members, along with Manon Fortin.
Louise has been homeschooling for 15 years and is a mom of six. As a single mom, she understands the special challenges single parents face while homeschooling in a two-parent world.
Louise delights in helping those struggling with reading and writing to surprise themselves with their own success. She has taken training in working with those with learning difficulties, including adult literacy and dyslexia; and Louise is an English as a Second Language instructor for children and adults. It should be no surprise that Louise has a heart for families who have children with learning challenges and special needs.
Her real-life experience in homeschooling and educating those who have extra challenges, and her deep compassion for single moms makes her a true asset to the HSLDA team.
Administratively speaking, Louise is an editor, and recently obtained a Certificate in Managing Digital Information (Certificat de gestion de l’information numérique).
However, Louise isn’t always working away behind a desk. Rather, you will often find her walking in the woods, knitting, or perusing stacks of cookbooks.
Amy Dore is our resident finance expert at HSLDA. She received her Business Accounting Degree from Fanshawe College and has been working in accounting since her late teens. In addition to working for various companies, Amy utilized her skills as the treasurer at her local cooperative while homeschooling her children. Amy and her family enjoyed living in England for two years and immersing themselves in the British culture. Before returning to Canada, Amy also traveled to many European countries and developed a deep sense of appreciation for history. Amy and her husband, Rob, have 4 children and continue to love all things British!
Emily Timmerman is the Operations Assistant for HSLDA Canada. Raised in London, Ontario, Emily was homeschooled from preschool through high school. She first met her husband, Zachary, in grade 5 at their homeschool co-op. They have been married for 5 years and have two young children. They are living proof that good things do come out of homeschool co-ops! Emily enjoys board games and loves volunteering at her local church. Emily brings extensive administration experience to her role; and, she works diligently to ensure the daily business operations of HSLDA run as a smoothly as possible.
Lisa Knight is the Member Services Assistant for HSLDA Canada. Her discovery of homeschooling came unexpectedly while she was studying psychology at Wilfrid Laurier University. As part of her coursework, she was placed in a homeschool group program for a six-week stage. This short assignment turned into two years because she loved it so much. This opportunity opened the door for her family to explore homeschooling. Now Lisa and her husband, Shawn, are embarking on their own preschool adventure at home with their two young daughters.
Gerald Huebner, and his wife, Bev, began homeschooling by saying, “Only one year.” Suddenly they found themselves with two children graduating high school from their home! Along with that surprising blessing, Gerald and Bev are now witnessing their three grandchildren being homeschooled as well.
Gerald serves as the Chair for the Board of Directors for HSLDA Canada. His leadership experience is seen on both the provincial and national levels in Canada as well as on the international scene as the Chair of the Global Home Education Conference Board.
No stranger to public speaking, Gerald has presented in eight provinces and seven countries! Some of his speaking topics include issues surrounding homeschooling freedoms, Biblical fatherhood, and, charmingly, the role of grandparents in homeschooling.
If all of that was not testimony enough to his credibility as a strong leader, you ought to know that Gerald also works in senior management for the Government of Manitoba.
Gerald Heubner’s life and work experiences make him an invaluable addition to the HSLDA team!
HSLDA Board of Directors member, Lorne Robinson, is a great supporter of, and contributor to, the homeschooling movement. An experience of feeling let down by the public school board with regards to his son led Lorne and his wife, Cathy, to homeschool their three children. As a speaker, Lorne communicates the inspirational story of how his son went from being labelled a ‘slow learner’ to becoming a PhD candidate!
By trade, Lorne is a Certified Financial Planner and Chartered Life Underwriter. His knowledge of Biblical stewardship is invaluable to both the Board of HSLDA, and also to the members who are privileged to hear Lorne speak at homeschooling conferences. He is, indeed, an expert on the theology of finances, and is able to support homeschooling families by answering their questions with wisdom.
Lorne also has served in pastoral ministry for nearly 30 years, and so he has the compassion and servant heart that serves to strengthen the homeschooling community.
The Board of Directors is fortunate to serve with Lorne Robinson. He is a great asset to the HSLDA family.
Michael Smith and his wife, Elizabeth, along with Michael Farris and his wife, Vicki, incorporated Home School Legal Defense Association in 1983 and were the original board members. Mike grew up in Arkansas, graduated from the University of Arkansas where he played basketball, majoring in business administration. Upon graduation, he entered the U.S. Navy and served three years before attending law school at the University of San Diego. In 1972, he was admitted to the bar in California and also has been admitted to the Supreme Court of the United States. He is licensed in Virginia, California, and Washington, D.C.
Mike and his family began homeschooling because their 5-year-old flunked kindergarten. This was quite a disappointment to Mike in light of the fact that he was preparing this child to be president of the United States by starting his education as early as possible.
His family’s life changed drastically when he heard a radio program in 1981 which introduced him to the idea of homeschooling. When they started homeschooling, they began homeschooling one year at a time to meet the academic and social needs of their children. After spending lots of time around people like Mike Farris, Michael became convinced that he had been called to use his gifts and talents in the legal profession to assist homeschoolers who were being prosecuted because they didn’t hold a teacher’s certificate or didn’t satisfy the school district’s concerns that they could competently teach their children.
Mike came to HSLDA full-time in 1987 and has served as president of the organization since the year 2001. As President of HSLDA US, Michael Smith also serves on the Board of Directors for HSLDA Canada.
Ray Strom is a geologist and the owner and president of his personal business, Calgary Rock and Materials Services, Inc. Ray Strom has exceptionally interesting experience in the study of rocks that has seen him work and travel internationally: for example, he has co-written research papers regarding the Grand Canyon, and has studied in the Middle East examining what the rocks say about the earthquake at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion. Ray is active in creation science research, and, as such, has a unique insight into the Creation/Evolution debate, and speaks knowledgeably on the topic with a desire to instill a Biblical worldview in his listeners.
Along with his work experience and Biblical worldview, Ray also brings extensive business sense and leadership to the HSLDA Board of Directors. He has served on the boards of his church, a private Christian school, and the AHEA (Alberta Home Education Association) all of which make Ray a valuable member of HSLDA’s Board of Directors.
Ray has a vested interest in the health and strength of the homeschooling movement as he and his wife homeschooled their two daughters, and are now enjoying their six grandchildren.