Curating continuing studies at Emily Carr University of Art + Design

Sadira Rodrigues is the Director of Continuing Studies at Emily Carr University of Art + Design. She is an art historian and curator with a masters degree from UBC.

Sadira started her career at the Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, where she was the first curator in residence.

She continued her career in the art world at the Vancouver Art Gallery where she led the Fuse program for a few years.

"I was teaching at Emily Carr and remember seeing the job posting for a Continuing Studies Director. A friend of mine kept encouraging me to apply for the position but I never thought I would get it, especially after the intimidating panel interview!" Sadira laughs.

But Sadira did get the position and she has spent the last few years re-vamping the Continuing Studies department, and with great success.

Sadira is a born leader; she's full of contagious energy, positivity and a strong zest for life. "I love my life, my family, partner and work.  I'm an avid gardener and I love to cook. The people I work with are my second family. But I'm not a workaholic. I believe in the importance of balance between work and life."

Sadira has a fascinating and colorful background; she was born in Zambia, grew up in Zimbabwe, India and Paraguay before ending up in Canada with her brother and parents at the age of 14.

"My mother was an adventurer and moved from India to Africa when she was 19 years old! My family is full of very strong female characters. Education and family is very important to us." Sadira had only gone to catholic boarding school for girls, so when she came to Vancouver and went to a blended high school it was a real culture shock to her.

 "I was completely distracted. I couldn't get my home work done." Sadira laughs heartily. "My parents were quick to transfer me to a private girls only school within a few months."

Being such a citizen of the world, I wonder how Sadira feels, is she Canadian, Indian or African?

"I'm completely Canadian. I especially feel very Canadian when I go to India. But growing up in so many different countries at such a young, impressionable age taught me to be very empathetic and patient."

One of Sadira's passions in life is community-based education.

"It's wonderful to be able to provide people from all walks of life access to an institution that they wouldn't have thought about going to. We work extensively with community-based organizations and we are excited to be able to provide people from downtown eastside, as well as aboriginal teens, access to a wide variety of programs.

"We also offer children of staff and faculty opportunities to part take in certain programs when there are spots available."

Sadira tells me about a turning point in her career. "Working as a Manager of Arts Programs with 2010 Legacies Now was very eye opening for me. I travelled to 52 communities around BC and took part of 3 hour workshops organized by the Community Arts Council. I met artists of all kinds, and it was an amazing experience.

"So many of these artists didn't know how to apply for funding and how to get their art noticed. My experience was mostly with urban centres and working with Legacies Now opened my eyes to the whole art community in BC."

I wonder what Sadira dreams of, and what are her plans for the future?

"I would love to live on the Sunshine coast or on a small Gulf island where I could grow my own food, and use it as a tool for education. I don't know when I would be able to do this." Sadira smiles, confidently.

"But it's so important to have dreams."

More in On the Job

After thirty years on the job, back to school to become an actor

If you could live your life over again, would you do anything different? A student at a Vancouver acting school is going back almost 30 years and taking a different path. When he was in high school...
Speak up about this article on Facebook or Twitter. Do this by liking Vancouver Observer on Facebook or following us @Vanobserver on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you.