This is the 26th installment of the Weekend Name Drop which marks the half-way point of this year-long feature. To celebrate, I’m also using this week’s post to wish my father a happy Fathers Day and to wish my mother a happy birthday. Meet my parents, Janice & Ivan Millen.
Name: Ivan & Janice Millen (a.k.a. Janice & Ivan Millen)
Creative field: Parenting, Teaching, Writing, Home Renovation, Photography
Location: Pictou County, Nova Scotia, Canada
My connection: Ivan and Janice are my parents – I’ve known them my whole life! After short stints in New Glasgow and Antigonish, they raised me in Hazel Glenn, just outside Westville, Nova Scotia. My father worked as a teacher and, after years as a bank teller, so did my mother. So, teaching runs in this family. In fact, Mom graduated with her teaching degree from St Francis Xavier University the same year I graduated from West Pictou District High (the same school they both attended). They bought me books at every Christmas and birthday and bought me my first guitars. Dad coached my first softball team and I later played alongside him and my brother on the Middle River men’s team. They’ve made three trips to New Zealand to my one visit back home, so, outside of Skype, I don’t see them nearly as much as I would like. But, along with my wife and children now, Mom and Dad are still my favourite people in this world.
Inspiration for this writer: I never really saw my parents teach in their classrooms, but I do know they were both esteemed by colleagues and I’ve engaged in my share of teacher-talk with them. Like most things they are into, their careers and creative endeavours have been understated. Dad wrote in his den (I can still hear the typewriter) and has had the occasional poem and short story published. He is also a photographer and has photographed many weddings, especially within our large family. I can recall my grandmother (Mom’s mom) calling out, “Ivan get your camera!” to capture a moment. But Dad also has a talent for nature photography (samples below). Mom and Dad built our house in Hazel Glenn and recently renovated Mom’s childhood home at Thornbank Farm, earning the property provincial heritage status. Together they created an idyllic lifestyle for us – traditional Christmases, knitted sweaters, books, an ice-skating pond in the backyard – the works.
There have been tough times, too, and their responses to these have been just as inspirational. Mom has had two brain tumours removed and is incredibly tough and resilient. Dad’s love and devotion have been consistent and tireless. They even managed to survive a motorcycle crash just last year! They continue to support their children and grandchildren – visiting us in New Zealand, hosting my son Sam during his trip to Canada, attending soccer matches and ballet recitals, sharing posts on Facebook and generally being involved in whatever their family is doing – even acting as my book distributors in Nova Scotia!
Why you should check them out and share with others: Mom and Dad are not really looking for more attention for themselves, though they are keen to share what their family is up to. People seem to like them as they are – intelligent, hard-working, devoted, tough, and proud. I think it will be enough for them to have me boast about them on here; enough to watch their legacy in their children and grandchildren. Still, if you can, look out for some of Dad’s writing. He’s been published in Grain Magazine, The Antigonish Review, The Dalhousie Review, and The Pottersfield Portfolio. You can read about their heritage home in Durham, Nova Scotia in The New Glasgow News.
Sample of work:
Some of Ivan’s photos:
The Weekend Name Drop is a weekly feature on this blog, promoting people I have encountered who are doing creative things.