Ian Greer ’18 Quest Feature

Graduating student Ian Greer just tattooed our President. In this interview, Ian talks about the future of stick-and-poke tattoos and how Quest changed their mind about getting a post-secondary education. 

First things first—what was it like to tattoo Quest’s President? 

We were very casual about it, honestly. The most stressful part for me and my roommates was cleaning our room really well before George came over!

The tattoo idea started when George and I met for the first time last September for an introductory interview with [Quest’s student-run newspaper] the Mark. We were talking about our respective academic interests and when I mentioned tattoos, George told me about this finger tattoo design he’d wanted for a few years. Apparently, some of the street shops he consulted with were hesitant to tattoo fingers, because the skin is so delicate. However, because handpokes are significantly less traumatic to the skin, they’re ideal for this sort of project. We discussed it again a month ago and George seemed really excited, so we had a quick consultation and then went for it a week later. I saw it this afternoon and it looks like it healed great!

A handpoked minsa (itsu no yo), an Okinawan symbol roughly translating to “enduring love”

What is your Question?

My Question is “Do we desire truth or narrative?” It came from a time when I was predominantly focused on journalism and media studies, and I’ve stuck with it although my academic interests have shifted since.

Why Quest?

All credit is due to two people. The first is Quest Alum Evan Captain, the brother of one of my good friends from high school. I was set on never going to university and working as a freelance journalist forever, but a few months after finishing school, Evan and I had a lengthy conversation and he convinced me Quest might be worth trying out.

I was still a bit hesitant after applying but felt a renewed sense of confidence after my interview with Quest Alum and former Admissions Officer Jill Carlile. Our conversation made me feel valued in a way I’d never expected to in a traditional school setting, especially because—unlike interviews I’d had with other universities—it did not revolve around my very poor academic performance in high school.

I entered Quest in 2014 feeling able to learn on my own terms and I am grateful to this school for making space for students like me for whom traditional educational models tend to fail.

Greer or Gruyere? And how did that happen?

“Gruyere” was a name given to me by my friend Dorah as a sort of tongue-in-cheek mispronunciation of my last name. I was curious what it would be like to have an alter ego and the name Gruyere seemed the natural starting point for my exploratory identity. There’s no actual difference between my alter ego and myself, so the names are just fun to interchange.

Dogs or cats?

Dogs are more fun to draw.

Has anything you’ve learned at Quest crossed over into your art?

For sure. After taking Jamie Kemp’s Image of the Artist course in the fall of 2016, I developed an intense interest in medieval art and iconography. The readings and artworks we explored in that class were a big part of why I began drawing seriously a few months later.

The following spring, I took two classes that expanded my interest in art: an Artist-in-Residence course called Photography in the Age of Snapchat, which made me excited enough about film photography to incorporate it into my Keystone, and the Foundation Life Science course Biodiversity of BC, where I did some of my first botanical drawings. A lot of my drawing style came from that course and it’s proven continually useful since botanical tattoos are so popular at the moment.

Tell me how you got into tattooing.

I started drawing intentionally in January 2017 and did my first tattoo a few months later on my friend Ava. I was shaking and practically mute the entire time but it turned out okay. At that point, I had four tattoos: two machine tattoos from shops in Seattle and two stick-and-pokes I’d received from other Quest students.

I was really curious about the medium of stick-and-poke and excited about how these first few tattoos changed how I looked at my body—they simultaneously made me take myself a lot less seriously and gave me an intense interest in how people represent themselves.

That summer, I gave around 30 more tattoos, including two on myself, and have done probably 60 since school started again in the fall. It’s a really beautiful way to connect with somebody; the experience requires calmness and trust from both people and often creates complementary feelings of vulnerability and strength.

Which is your favourite tattoo that you have and why?

I have like 20 tattoos now. It’s hard to pick a favourite because I have very different reasons for liking each of them.

The last tattoo I received was a collaborative project between me and my friends Stephen and Morgan. It’s a scene from the opening of one of my favourite books, Pedro Páramo. We made sketches together in a studio in Seattle, then using a combination of premade stencils and freehanding directly on my body with a surgical marker, Stephen and Morgan collaboratively drew and tattooed the composition on my forearm. It required a great deal of trust and creativity from all of us, and because it was freehanded it works really well with the contour of my arm and sits neatly around the other tattoos in that space.

I really admire the artistry and improvisation some artists have brought to the tattooing process and find this tattoo exemplary of what I would like to attempt in my own tattooing practice in the future.

Are you ever nervous to work with something so permanent?

No, that’s the whole point! If it weren’t permanent, I don’t think people would be so intentional about it, and that intentionality is often what makes the tattoo process so meaningful.

Why do you think stick-and-poke is so popular?

It’s a very gentle procedure—people almost universally comment on how painless it is, though this can depend on the artist’s technique. For many people I think it also implies a degree of fluidity that’s not always present with machine tattoos. It’s also generally accessible, and perhaps less intimidating than going to street shops or interacting with some of the more “traditional” aspects of machine tattoo culture. I go into greater detail on this in my Keystone.

What’s your prediction for the next trend in tattooing?

I hope to see a lot more freehanded tattoos—designs that work with the contours of the body rather than just sitting in a particular place. I also am excited about the prospect of collaborative compositions between multiple artists, where tattoos either combine in a single piece or interact with one another in an intentional way.

What do you plan to do after Quest?

I’m going to move back to Seattle, where I grew up, and work on opening a small private studio for doing tattoos and embroidery. A growing trend among tattoo artists is to travel and have short guest spots at other tattoo studios, and I have somewhat loose plans to do this in Vancouver, New York and Montreal over the course of the summer. I’d also like to continue some of the investigative reporting I did before and during my time at Quest on land use, housing development and houselessness.

Parker Carruthers ‘18 Quest Feature

Parker travelled to Oaxaca City in Mexico for Language Block this spring, documenting the trip with his stunning photography. He speaks with us about an average day, his most useful Spanish phrase and what he missed most about Squamish. [Photo above by Graham King ]

What is your Question?

What is popular culture, and how is it created?

Where did you travel for Language Block?

I went to Oaxaca City, Mexico. I was down there for roughly four weeks with four friends from Quest.

Tell me about your experience. What was the day-to-day like?

An average day started with an 8 am wake up and breakfast with our host family. Then we’d walk to our school and have class until around noon. Once our classes were finished, we would head home to do our homework before lunch. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day there, so it was generally a couple of courses, with beans and tortillas being staples. Afterwards, we would often take a nap, or work on our Keystones. Then we would go explore the city for a couple hours before having a late dinner with the family and going to bed.

In what ways did immersing yourself in a different culture contribute to learning the language?

I think it was the biggest factor in my learning the language. While the classroom sessions were beneficial, it was the time spent around the table with the family when I really got the opportunity to practice my Spanish. As well, chance encounters with locals were a great way to work on my conversational Spanish.

Any culture shock? What difficulties did you face?

No culture shock, no. Heatstroke, maybe. My only complaint about my time in Oaxaca was that the coffee is not as good.

What was the most useful phrase you learned?

“Vamos a …” which is to say, “we’re going to x place.” It was useful because I could communicate where I wanted to go, and let others know where we would be.

Would you recommend this experience to other Quest students?

I would absolutely recommend Oaxaca to other students. It is a beautiful city with awesome people. The host families are great, and the activities that SOL (University Study Abroad & Spanish Immersion Program) offers are all remarkable opportunities to take in more of the culture.

Good to be back? What’s one thing you missed about Quest?

Very glad to be back. I missed the Squamish rain. I’ve come to love the foggy mornings here. It’s not something that happens very often in that part of Mexico.

We are processing applications for admission, scholarship, and need-based financial aid on a rolling basis. Decisions will be going out weekly, upon completion of your application.

Richard Hoshino’s Adrien Pouliot Award

Accepting his award, Richard Hoshino presented four of his favourite math problems, and shared stories of how they lead to authentic mathematical experiences for both high school students and undergraduates. He presented four key problem-solving strategies that enable mahematicians and educators to impact others’ lives.

Read the story here.

Need Based Financial Aid Deadline March 1, 2018


Quest LEAP / The Katherines

This is The Katherines, a band of talented musicians and students who are part of the LEAP Program at Quest University Canada. LEAP isn’t just for athletes; it’s a perfect fit for performers too. Quest’s Liberal Arts education provides them with a well-rounded set of skills that allows them to pursue their studies while they reach new musical heights.

Quest University Canada student Miguel Orlando Chiau, a Mastercard Foundation Scholar, is among the speakers who will present at The Walrus Talks Africa’s Next Generation (Ottawa) on September 26. Miguel is a second-year student from Mozambique studying computer science. He is passionate about Africa and social inclusion, and envisions himself bringing change to his continent and believes that higher education is a prerequisite for achieving this goal.

Read More…

Herieth Ringo: Mastercard Foundation Scholar

Quest University Canada student Herieth Ringo, a Mastercard Foundation Scholar in the Program at African Leadership Academy, authored the essay To Build Confidence, Young Africa Must Focus on What it Does Well. In the essay, Herieth discusses creating the right conditions for young Africans to flourish as confident leaders.

Read More…


On September 1, 2017, the Canadian Mathematical Society announced that Dr. Richard Hoshino is the recipient of the 2017 Adrien Pouliot Award for significant and sustained contributions to mathematics education in Canada. Founded in 1945, the Canadian Mathematical Society (CMS) promotes the advancement, discovery, learning and application of mathematics. Richard is the youngest mathematician to have received this prestigious award in recognition of individuals “who have made significant and sustained contributions to mathematics education in Canada.” Adrien Pouliot was the second President of the CMS and was described as a world-class ambassador for science and mathematics and a great educator.

Richard’s colleague Dr. Glen van Brummelen, himself a 2017 National Teaching Fellow, noted that the award is essentially a national lifetime achievement award and that Richard has been “one of the most valued people in the Canadian mathematics education community” even before coming to Quest. Prior to his arrival at Quest in 2013, Richard was a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute of Informatics in Tokyo (2010-2012), and was a mathematician with the Government of Canada (2006-2010), leading the mathematics and data exploration section at the Canada Border Services Agency. He has published 28 research papers across numerous fields, including graph theory, marine container risk-scoring, biometric identification, and sports scheduling.

Richard is a former Mathematics Olympian and has coached the students representing Canada at the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO). He recently penned a novel The Math Olympian aimed at young people as a way to reach and inspire even more students. He frequently visits high schools to give public talks, and has reached thousands of students in British Columbia over the past four years. He has also led numerous professional development workshops for high school math teachers, and has organized or keynoted math education workshops and conferences throughout Canada. Hoshino is an active member of the Canadian Mathematics Education Study Group (CMESG), and will be the local organizer for the next CMESG meeting, to be held at Quest in June 2018.

For more information about Richard’s award, please see the press release from the Canadian Mathematical Society.

Quest’s New President Dr. George Iwama

August 25, 2017

The Board of Governors of Quest University Canada is proud to announce that Dr. George Iwama has been appointed the University’s next President.

Quest is the national and global leader of a distinct philosophy of inquiry-based education, and is committed to continuing to innovate and share its work.

When we started our search for a new President, we set out to find someone who would:

  • Champion Quest’s mission, vision, and values;
  • Continue to strengthen, defend, and renew Quest’s pedagogical approach;
  • Recruit and support a truly distinctive student body;
  • Recruit and support world-class teacher-scholars;
  • Ensure a sustainable business model; and
  • Serve as a compelling and effective advocate for Quest as its leading external ambassador.

We strongly believe Dr. Iwama is an outstanding candidate, and we are excited about adding his experience and leadership to Quest University Canada.

Dr. Iwama will be a critical part of helping our University tackle the challenges and seize the opportunities that lie ahead by continuing to develop and champion the vision of Quest as a place for innovation in teaching and learning.

We look forward to hosting a social welcome event where students, staff, and community members can meet and get to know our new President this fall – stay tuned for details. For more information on Dr. Iwama, please visit the Incoming President webpage.

With appreciation,
Mary Jo Larson
Chair, Board of Governors
Quest University Canada