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.
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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 a Legislative Assistant to a Member of Parliament, Peter was involved in speech writing, media relations, research and committee strategy. Later, 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 writing skills as a Parliament Hill Correspondent reporting for a national newsmagazine. He has worked for a number of MPs and cabinet ministers, and 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 13 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.
As President of HSLDA Canada, Peter continues to culminate his expertise and passion to serve homeschooling families across the country.
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!
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.
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.
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.
HSLDA Canada is proud to welcome Jennifer Kuypers as our newest Member Services Assistant. In this capacity, Jennifer helps serve members across the country and provides our team with essential administrative support in the daily operations of our organization.
Jennifer is married with two children, and has been homeschooling since 2013. Her experience as a homeschooling mom has allowed her to become intimately aware of the challenges that accompany home education, as well as of the diverse forms of support that parents require when trying to live out this ideal.
Jennifer has a BASc in Gerontology from the University of Guelph and has a strong background in caring for and serving people. She began her career as an Activity Director in a Nursing Home. She then moved on to become a Supervisor of a Senior’s Day program. And, most recently, she served as a Director of Kids Ministry.
When Jennifer is not assisting members of HSLDA Canada, you will most likely find her engaged in one of her favourite pastimes: cardmaking, scrapbooking, reading, golfing, and watching Hallmark movies.
HSLDA Canada is excited to have a person with Jennifer’s experience, knowledge and sensitivity working as a part of our team. She will be an invaluable asset in all that we do as an organization.
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!
Emira Smailagic is the Operations Assistant at our office in London, Ontario, and is one of our newest staff members here at HSLDA Canada. In this role, she helps look after the daily financial operations of our organization and assists in providing both our staff and members with valuable administrative support.
Emira is married with one child and is very devoted to her family. She was privileged to homeschool her daughter for a few years during elementary school and learned a lot about home education in the process. In addition to being aware of the hard work that goes into this important venture, Emira is also well-acquainted with the full range of benefits that homeschooling offers to both parents and children alike.
As a compliment to her Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, Emira comes to us with a rich and diverse professional background. She enjoyed a career early on in management, which provided her with an opportunity to live and work overseas. She spent some time as a Child Care Provider, and she also served as a Community Volunteer and a Parent Aide at a local school.
Emira’s passions include being outdoors, sports, cycling, serving others and kids ministry.
HSLDA Canada is grateful to have someone with Emira’s knowledge and skill-set providing exceptional support to both our organization and members!
Originally from Newfoundland, Cathy Robinson currently resides in Ontario where she assists with HSLDA’s Discount Support Group program and CCHE’s Families in Need program.
Cathy has been married to Lorne for over 30 years and together they have 3 children. Ironically Cathy was a kindergarten teacher and elementary school substitute teacher. After removing their children from the school system, Cathy was an active homeschool mother for 13 years. She co-chaired CHENL, a provincial homeschool association, with her husband for 8 years. Her teaching skills even extend to her musical abilities as a worship leader at her local church and a guitar teacher. Cathy’s talents go even further as she taps into her roots by performing in a comedy routine as “Ned”, a newfie fisherman. Cathy is enjoying a new phase of her life with her husband as they begin their new adventure as grandparents.
Diane is a life-long learner – first as an Early Childhood Educator for the Developmentally Handicapped, then a homeschool mom to her 5 children for 25 years, then training as a Professionally Certified Educational Therapist. Diane is known to have the latest ‘brain’ book in one hand and a coffee in the other.
Diane has been part of the HSLDA and homeschool community for over 30 years – starting and leading homeschool groups, teaching at homeschool co-ops and speaking at conferences. She was the KONOS-Canada East curriculum representative for 10 years and shared her love of learning and passion to serve the needs of all children, regardless of their learning differences.
Teaching children that learn differently isn’t new for Diane. As she homeschooled her own 5 children with a variety of strengths and weaknesses, she learned quickly how challenging it can be to homeschool our unique learners. After many years of struggle, her youngest son was diagnosed with an Auditory Processing Disorder. It was a sigh of relief for both her and him! Finally, there was an answer to why learning new concepts was such a struggle for him. With this assessment information in hand, he enrolled in a program of NILD Educational Therapy which was the key for his future success as an aircraft engineer maintenance technician.
In 2009, upon Diane’s ‘graduation’ from homeschooling, she pursued her passion for learning and enrolled in NILD’s Educational Therapy training courses to train as a therapist. Diane set up her own practice, GeerLINKS Educational Therapy. https://geerlinkslearning.com. She administers a Facebook group entitled Homeschooling Your Unique Learner, where homeschool parents can share ideas, concerns and questions. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1638759296204088/about/
Diane has a long-standing passion of supporting homeschool families, especially families who have children with exceptional needs. She is excited to join our team to offer consultation and support to families across Canada.
Megen Zelinka has considerable experience with the intersection of law and homeschooling. A homeschool graduate herself, Megen attended Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, Ontario, and practiced in the areas of child protection and family law. Since she began working with HSLDA in 2017, she has successfully assisted many HSLDA members with constructive solutions to their legal issues and guided them in working with authorities where necessary. She also keeps track of potential legislative changes that may affect homeschooling families.
Megen is a member of the Law Society of Ontario, the Ontario Bar Association, and the Christian Legal Fellowship. She and her lawyer husband live in Toronto, Ontario, where they homeschool their children.
Robert E. Reynolds is a graduate of Bishop’s University (Honours B.A. in French and Philosophy) and McGill University (Bachelor of Civil Law). He has practiced in a number of areas of the law in Quebec for many years, in both French and English. One of his areas of expertise is the legal aspects of homeschooling in Quebec.
Robert has been a member of the Barreau du Québec since 1969. He was, until recently, President of the Christian Legal Fellowship, and remains a member of that organization.
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 and 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 worked 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 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 served in pastoral ministry for nearly 30 years.
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 US full-time in 1987 and has served as president of the organization since the year 2001.
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.
Along with his work experience, Ray also brings extensive business sense and leadership to the HSLDA Board of Directors. He has served on several boards including AHEA (Alberta Home Education Association) all of which make Ray a valuable member of HSLDA’s Board of Directors.
Ray has 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.
Russ Hiebert served as a Member of Parliament for the British Columbia riding of South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale from 2004 to 2015. Russ served in a variety of positions including as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence and on key Commons Committees including Finance and International Trade. He also served seven terms as Chairman of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. Prior to entering politics, Russ was a practicing lawyer and small businessman. His insider’s knowledge of politics and law-making is of tremendous benefit to HSLDA Canada as it strives to improve homeschooling laws across Canada.
Russ and Andrea enjoy homeschooling their four children in the Lower Mainland of BC.