A Reflection as She Retires – An Interview with Cidalia Paiva Ph.D.
On July 31, 2020, after 26 years at its helm, Cidalia Paiva retires from the West Coast College of Massage Therapy.
We are pleased to present this special piece featuring a candid interview with Cidalia who reflects on the many triumphs and tribulations that not only shaped her career but greatly contributed to the legacy of WCCMT.
What brought you to WCCMT?
Ironically, I initially came from Ontario to start a second massage therapy school in British Columbia to compete with WCCMT. The owner of the proposed school I was hired to establish decided, after some due diligence, that it would be better to buy WCCMT than compete with it. I was his chief administrator and he asked me to stay on at WCCMT for at least one year during its transition in ownership and operations. One year turned into 2, 3, 4 . . . and so on.
Why Did You Stay?
It was really pretty simple. I fell in love with WCCMT. It really was love at first sight for me. When I saw the WCCMT facility, then located in the Harbour Centre in downtown Vancouver, with its professional caliber classrooms, state-of-the-art clinic and of course the curriculum and quality of the programming; I was sincerely impressed. It was unlike any massage therapy school I’d ever seen in Ontario or anywhere else for that matter. It was a quality school and a quality operation and something I knew I wanted to be part of.
Then of course there was the WCCMT story. The fact that WCCMT started as a dream by a man named John Ranney a graduate of the Canadian College of Massage and Hydrotherapy in Ontario. John came to BC in the late seventies and established WCCMT’s first campus in Chinatown in 1983. For John WCCMT was a dream and a passion and he invested, much to his personal detriment, whatever profit he received into curriculum development and instruction. He didn’t want to just create a school he wanted to create the best, and so did I. John’s dream, became mine.
They were numerous, especially in the early years. First of all, as an outsider I was not initially accepted by the team at WCCMT who was warry of outsiders and new ownership. Financial hardship in 1999 led to the school almost closing due to poor fiscal management by its original two owners. The recruitment and rebuilding of faculty and staff the following year. The relocation, move and build-out of a new school in New Westminster. The politics of the profession. The rescinding of the 3000 hour program and in effect the demise of the opportunity to create a massage therapy degree.
I was fortunate to be part of so many. The building of our new school in New Westminster. The largest freestanding massage therapy school in North America. Cited as the premier school for massage therapy education in North America by the Financial Post in 2002. Along with a number of other distinctions over the years; the New Westminster Business of the Year Award, the Multiple Sclerosis Merit Award, Leading Spas of Canada Award and Canadian Council of Massage Therapy Schools Award, to name a few.
Creating an innovative partnership with Thompson Rivers University (TRU) leading to the largest number of block transfer credits ever awarded to a massage therapy school in North America. This articulation agreement, which started exclusively with WCCMT alumni, has in effect created degree credit access towards a Bachelors of Health Science for RMT’s across Canada. Founding the Boucher Institute of Naturopathic Medicine which started with us at WCCMT as the West Coast Naturopathic Medical College.
Finally, the many opportunities I had both here in BC and in Ontario to share my knowledge and expertise in the area of healthcare ethics to the profession of massage therapy. The development of code of ethics documents and ethics and professionalism curriculum as well as the authoring of two textbooks and numerous articles in massage therapy publications.
Most importantly though the highlight for me after all these years has been the people, the relationships, the community. Having the opportunity to create a WCCMT family, building and being part of a team. Teaching and learning from each other. Sharing the sorrows and the joys of being a learning family over the years. The people are always the best.
Hopes for the future?
That our College and our profession may become the best it can be. I like to continue to believe that a massage therapy degree is likely because I know it is possible. But to realize this dream the profession needs to commit and make massage therapy about massage therapy, not politics and personal self-interest. The profession needs to realize that as a profession we need to grow and not regress and I sincerely hope that we choose to grow.
For our College, to see our WCCMT campuses flourish, continuing to be a pioneer and leader in massage therapy education. To see my cherished and valued colleagues and friends become all they can be in their new roles. To see them take pride in their work and of course a little selfishly to stay in touch instead of saying goodbye.
After 26 years, I still love WCCMT and always will. WCCMT has been one of the great loves of my life. A special thanks to my partner, Lori for making WCCMT a love in her life as well and in doing so helping me fulfill my dream.
Most importantly, I want to THANK the team; administration, faculty and students for the privilege and pleasure of allowing me to have been part of the WCCMT family for all these years and for keeping our dream of excellence alive. It’s your turn now. The future belongs to you. Dream big!
Integrity in Touch
To touch with our hands and heal with our hearts
Is to renew the miracle and the majesty of serving
With integrity in touch
By Cidalia Paiva