I was born in Clinton, Ontario, Canada in 1952 to Margaret and Hal Supeene. My father was in the Royal Canadian Air Force, so we moved often within Canada and in the US.
In 1970 I began university at Brandon University in Brandon, Manitoba. I moved to Hamilton, Ontario, to study world religions at McMaster University. I earned an Honours B.A. and did two years of graduate work on Chinese language and philosophy, for which I was awarded two Ontario Graduate Scholarships in 1980 and 1981.
In the early 1980s I joined a peace group, Action Against Militarism, where I met my future husband, Tom Slee. We married in 1987 and have two sons. We live in Waterloo, Ontario.
My non-fiction book, As for the Sky, Falling: a Critical Look at Psychiatry and Suffering, was published by Second Story Feminist Press in 1991. I began writing for children around 1998, when my own children were learning to read. My Name is Mitch, a novel for children age 9-12, was published by Orca Book Publishers in 2003.
I go by both my first names. In writing circles I like to be known as "Lynne", but some friends and family call me "Shelagh". Yes, it can be confusing! But I like both my names so I live with the occasional confusion.
I have worked as a store clerk, a dry cleaning clerk, an enumerator for a city directory, a baby-sitter. I've worked at a newspaper in classified advertising and as a type-set operator. Although I never did teacher training I have often found myself in teaching situations.
I was tutor to an ESL student for two years while at university in Brandon, and later in Hamilton did private tutoring through McMaster University's Counselling Department.
One of my most rewarding jobs was teaching adults at an adult retraining centre in North Bay, Ontario. The students were a mix of older teen-agers who had dropped out of high school but now wanted to get their diplomas after all, and middle-aged people who had had little or no schooling in their lives. One man, I remember, was raised in the remote bush near a logging camp, and could not read at all. Imagine the courage it must take to decide to go back to school when you are fifty years old to learn something most people take for granted.
As a graduate student I led tutorials, which meant some lecturing and some leading of discussions. One year I was one of about eight tutors for a large class, Introduction to World Religions. A student in my tutorial put up her hand and said she was deaf. I thought she wanted me to speak up! It turned out she was totally deaf, from an ear infection she had when she was 13. She could understand people only if they faced her directly: then she could lip-read. I was the only tutor she could lip-read: several of the men had facial hair that hid their mouths, and the rest of the tutors had an accent. This was a tremendous challenge both when I was lecturing on one of the religions I did not know well (I kept wanting to look at my notes) and when there was a group discussion. Of course, it was much more of a challenge for her than it was for me.
Another graduate student, Steve, led me to my most unusual tutoring experience. Steve volunteered regularly at an alternative school for children who could not function in the regular classroom. One 11-year-old dyslexic boy, Kevin, had been unable to learn to read English, so Steve was teaching him Chinese characters to use for English words, and they were having some success with this experiment. When Steve had to be away for three weeks, I filled in for him. Now, Steve was fluent in Chinese and I was not, but I knew enough Chinese to help Kevin. It was amazing to see him. He could not seem to take in words left to right, but he could look at a whole Chinese character, sometimes even a very complicated one, and remember and use it.
|2005||My Name is Mitch nominated for the Silver Birch Award by the Ontario Library Association|
|2005||My Name is Mitch nominated for the Diamond Willow Award by the Saskatchewan Young Readers' Choice — The Willow Awards, Inc.|
|2004||My Name is Mitch named as a Children's Choice Book by the Canadian Centre of Children's Books|
|1987–1988||Canada Council Exploration Grants (to write As for the Sky, Falling).|
|1980–1981||Ontario Graduate Scholarships, while I was a Masters student in the Religious Studies Department of McMaster University. I studied classical Chinese language and philosophy.|
|Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators|
|Canadian Society of Children's Authors, Illustrators and Performers (CANSCAIP).|
|Canadian Children's Book Centre|
|The Writers' Union of Canada|
I became sick in 1982 with a debilitating illness that turned out to be Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME, sometimes known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome). Since then I have not been able to lead what most people would consider a normal life. Ordinary activities like talking with friends or visiting a child's classroom can make me dizzy and exhausted. The exhaustion is like nothing I had ever experienced before: the muscles get jittery with it. Just raising an arm hurts. There is a certain amount of pain as well, and for most of the day I am housebound, although I am able to take my dog for walks in our neighbourhood. Writing is a great blessing when you can't get out physically.
An excellent resource about the disease is the Canadian Consensus Document, produced in 2005 to aid physicians in diagnosing and caring for their patients. ME/CFS : A Clinical Case Definition and Guidelines for Medical Practitioners by Bruce M. Carruthers and Marjorie I. van de Sande. You can find out more at FM-CFS Canada. The consensus document is available on their resources page, or you can go directly to the overview here (PDF file).
Some highlights from the document:
Classification in the World Health Organization's International Classification of Diseases as an acquired, organic neurological disease.
Prevalence: more prevalent than lung cancer and AIDS (about 125,000 to 150,000 Canadians have ME/CFS).
Description of signs and symptoms, including a clarification of "fatigues".
"ME/CFS 'is actually more debilitating than most other medical problems in the world' including patients undergoing chemotherapy and HIV patients (until about two weeks before death)."
(p3. quoting "A definition-based analysis of symptoms in a large cohort of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome", by De Becker, P., McGregor, N., De Meirleir, K. Journal of Internal Medicine 250, 234–240, 2001.)