Jay Maillet, geography instructor

PROFile: Finding life’s melody

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Jay Maillet’s earliest childhood memories involve spending time in nature. The University of Winnipeg geography instructor was born near Halifax and lived there until he was about five years old.

He remembers being close to a lake and “holding a fish up,” he says. “It’s all a bit hazy, but the two earliest childhood memories I can remember are all outdoors.”

Maillet’s love for the environment eventually led him to geography. “I did two years of engineering and quickly learned I did not want to engineer things,” he says.

His academic path meandered until he found his true calling. “I decided to pursue environmental science at Mount Allison University,” he says. “As soon as I was sitting in my first lectures in geography and environment, I knew that was where I was supposed to be.”

Maillet credits his father as an influence, especially for their shared love of nature and music. “He loves the outdoors, and we’re also both musicians, so I kind of followed in his footsteps in several aspects of my life,” he says.

Maillet, who sings and plays guitar, says he sees teaching as akin to performing. “I think part of it comes from the fact that, as a musician, I’m a performer and, with teaching, there is sort of a performance aspect to it,” he says.

“You have to become comfortable in front of a crowd. You need to know how to play to your audience, (that) sort of thing, so there’s a lot of overlap between the two.”

And Maillet is an experienced performer. He’s played music since middle school and says he was in a heavy-metal band in high school. “Now I mostly play folk-rock music and, until recently, I played a lot solo.”

He only moved to Winnipeg in 2021 and is still discovering the city’s treasures. Maillet says he appreciates Winnipeg’s proximity to nature and diverse environments.

His career and memories, filled with music, academia and a deep love for nature, show how rich life can be when passions overlap.

What was your worst grade in university?

“When I was in my first year of engineering, I failed Calculus I like three times.”

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

“My partner has a funny one. She keeps saying that it’d be fun if you had a superpower where you could teleport to different cities based on the name of the road.”

What was your favourite toy as a child?

“A recorder, like a little cheap tape recorder with a mic. I still have the tapes from when I was like two.”

What would you tell your younger self?

“Not to take things too seriously, because things have a way of working themselves out.”

Published in Volume 78, Number 07 of The Uniter (October 26, 2023)

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