Originally from Belgium, Catherine has lived and worked in Papua New Guinea for over 3 decades.
She hold PhD in linguistics from the University of Brussels, and is currently based in Brisbane. Her research interests are in language and linguistics, education and literacy, gender issues and environment. She has collaborated on projects in all parts of PNG, including islands and highlands region. She works and translates in English, Tok Pisin and French.
Catherine’s main research has been with the Awar community, since 2002. Her PhD thesis led to producing material for the establishment of an elementary school in Awar language, and later in Tok Pisin, in Hansa Bay. Material produced is a body of traditional texts and stories, a Awar/Tok Pisin/ English dictionary, and material specific for elementary school curriculum.
In 2018, Catherine and NY based photographer Marie Therese De Belder started a series of photo/language workshops with the Awar community, aiming at cultural, linguistic and environmental conservation. The workshops included teaching photographic skills to young participants, gathering traditional stories among the elders/knowledge keepers, take photos illustrating the storytelling, organising an exhibition of photos and texts and encouraging community conversations around the whole process, in preparation for the next cycle. The series’ themes are: Trees in the Awar culture (2018), Water in the Awar culture (2019) and planned for 2021 is Awar’s Dragon Dance and traditional dances.