Families Count 2024: new resource on family structure now available

Families Count 2024 is now available

November 16, 2022

Stories of Grand-Families in Prince Edward Island (Families, Mobility, and Work)

Summary of a chapter on grandparents raising grandchildren in PEI

November 16, 2022

Don Avery and Gaby Novoa’s chapter “A Hidden Chapter in Life We Did Not Expect or Foresee: Sharing the Stories of Grand-Families in Prince Edward Island” focuses on Avery’s personal experiences that led him and his wife to take responsibility for caring for their grandchildren, and on his journey in becoming involved with organizations that aim to strengthen support for and raise awareness about grand-families.

This chapter is one of many contributions included in Families, Mobility, and Work,  a compilation of articles and other knowledge products based on research from the On the Move Partnership. Published in September 2022 by Memorial University Press, this book is now available in print, as an eBook, and as a free open-access volume available in full on the Memorial University website.

“Of the dozen or so families Don has connected with through his community, he estimates that the formation of nearly half of the associated grand-families were linked to their adult children’s experiences of working out of province and, in some cases, permanently moving for work in Alberta. Parental absence for employment and rotational work schedules led to grandparents stepping in to provide care and create a home environment that was stable, reliable, and consistent.” – Don Avery and Gaby Novoa

Access Families, Mobility, and Work

Chapter abstract

Over 200 children on Prince Edward Island (PEI) live in grand-families where they are being raised by one or both grandparents. Many pathways lead to the formation of grand-families. This chapter captures Don Avery’s conversation with Gaby Novoa about how his family became a grand-family, about the links between mobile work and grand-families in his life and that of others on PEI, and about how these grandparents are organizing to increase grand-family supports in PEI. As an engaged member of his community, with his own family connection to work mobility, and as founder of PEI organizations such as Central East Grandparents Initiative and Building GRAND-Families Inc., Don has observed many of the challenges and commonalities in experiences of these PEI families, family involvement with the mobile workforce, and the grand-family configurations that can result.

About the authors

Don Avery Founder of the Central Eastern Grandparents Initiative (CEGI) and Building GRAND-Families Inc., Don Avery is a dedicated advocate for raising awareness about and fostering support for grandparents and great-grandparents raising their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He has been a grandfather since 1990 and a great-grandfather since 2015. Don has over 40 years of experience in human resources and management. He has also provided foster care for approximately 35 teenagers over the span of 15 years.

Don has also been working in partnership with the Vanier Institute of the Family and Dr. Christina Murray, BA, PhD, RN, Associate Professor, Faculty of Nursing, University of Prince Edward Island, on a two-year collaborative research project examining the strengths, challenges, and opportunities facing grand-families on PEI. The collaboration seeks to increase our collective understanding of grand-families and optimize their well-being—in PEI and across Canada.

Gaby Novoa As a writer and researcher with the Vanier Institute of the Family from 2017 to 2022, Gaby Novoa fostered greater public understanding of the diversity of families and family life in Canada. She has authored and co-authored numerous articles, interviews, and research recaps related to themes that cover LGBTQ+ experiences, death and dying, family well-being, and more. Gaby holds a bachelor’s degree from Concordia University in Communication and Cultural Studies with a minor in Diversity and the Contemporary World.