About Don Ayre
Don Ayre was born and educated in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. He graduated from the University of Manitoba with a B.A. (1956), B.S.W. (1957) and M.S.W. (1958). He was on bursary from the Province of Manitoba and work with the Department of Social Services in the adoption department for two years before accepting the position of staff development in the social work department of the Winnipeg Child Guidance Clinic. He also worked part-time with Knowles School for boys where apprenticed as psychotherapist. He attended the University of Chicago in the summers and decided to continue his post-graduate studies in research and child therapy at the University of Pittsburgh. He was Director of Research at Family and Children’s Services of Pittsburgh from 1960 to 1967 when he returned to the University of Manitoba having accepted a joint teaching position with the School of Social Work and the Department of Education.
Don went into private practice as a family and child therapist and educational consultant in 1972. As an educational consultant, he focused on team building and worked with the Department of Social Services, the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, Lion’s Place Senior Citizen Residence, several car dealerships and local builders and developers. From 1965 to 1980, he was on exclusive contract with the homebuilding industry as Secretary to the Urban Development Institute and Executive Vice President to the Manitoba Home Builders Association. From 1980 to 1984, he worked with a builder on seven of Manitoba’s reserve communities. On Lizard Point Reserve near Russell Manitoba, he helped to establish one of the first locally controlled school by not only working with the builder to erect a seven classroom school but also with the Department of Education and teaching staff to design a curriculum that was appropriate to the community and also consistent with provincial standards.
When 17 young people ages 21 to 30 tried to enrol in the newly built school on Lizard Point Reserve to complete their grade 12, Ayre designed the first computer-based, employment-related training program in Canada. With the help of the local business community in nearby Russell, he was able to set up a trailer near the school and equip it with four Apple IIe computers to teach word processing, spreadsheet and data base skills along with a course in business acumen. Seven businesses in Russell along with the band office agreed to act as workplace hosts for three months. Several of the students benefited enough from the workplace experience to be hired afterwards. Some moved to live with relatives in Winnipeg. Based on the success of the program, Ayre was asked by Employment Canada to move the training program to Winnipeg where he operated it for 10 years. The Business Learning Opportunities program or B.L.O. as it became known by Winnipeg’s aboriginal youth, graduated 60 students per year with over 60% of them earning employment with one of the 37 workplace hosts in its network of opportunities. When Employment and Immigration Canada ceased its funding in 1994, five graduates were heading up its training and the Philipino Association was negotiating a similar program for their youth. Don became semi-retired but maintained his interest in the education of youth as the volunteer director of the Manitoba Schools Science Symposium for 8 years.
Don Ayre has been a pioneer in self-publishing. He first self-published in 1976 with the assistance of a grant from the University of Manitoba to hire a printer. The intent was to outline his practice for his students and open the way for discussion in his classes on family and child therapy. The two books were based on his experience as a researcher at Family and Children’s Services of Pittsburgh: New Hope for Old Ways: A Structured View of an Agency’s Practice and Love Within Limits: An Extended View of a Profession’s Development. The purpose of self-publishing as he saw it then was to work through one’s own ideas sufficiently to share them for discussion with others of like mind. Don self-published again in 1980 with Jackson Beardy, an internationally known aboriginal artist who illustrated the booklet. The booklet was called Human Dialogue and the Emergence of an Ecological Conscience and it was presented at the First Global Conference on the Economy held in Toronto.
Don self-published again in 2009 when the service became available on the Internet. It was a series of four booklets with lulu.com on the politics of change: Obama’s Challenge and the Politics of Change; Spirituality in Today’s World; Interfaith Pluralism in a Post 9/11 Era; and Spiritual Wanders Unite! He self-published again on the Internet with xlibris.com in 2011. The book was Meditation and the Evolution of Cosmic Consciousness. This most recent self-publication Toward a More Loving and Caring World in 2014 is an extension of his research to included theology as well as psychology. It deals with how we can respond technically and spiritually to the growing pressure of globalization. Don has also written articles that have appeared in Peace Magazine and that have been reproduced by several international publications. He has had newspaper columns on the upcoming changes to education in the Winnipeg Sun and in Seniors Today.
Don and his wife Jean reside in Winnipeg and have only recently moved from their home of 46 years in Fort Garry to Portsmouth Retirement Community. Their two sons with their wives and five granddaughters also live in Winnipeg. One of their granddaughters lives in Houston, Texas with her husband and their three great grandchildren.