Lori Sigurdson, Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta for Edmonton-RiverviewI grew up in a small town in the Peace Country. My family moved there when I was 7. We didn't know anyone in that small town. Mom got a teaching job at the local Catholic School and Dad opened a small business. We were different. We didn't fit in. Close to the town was a First Nation Reserve. Although the people there, had lived there since before Canada was a country, they were like me, they didn't fit in either. The feeling of not fitting in, inspired me to become a social worker when I grew up. I wanted to make sure everyone belonged and folks like me and Indigenous people were included. Words like inclusion, reconciliation and social justice didn't mean anything to me when I was 7. Fast forward 50 some years, they are the values on which I base my political career. These are the values of the Alberta NDP Caucus, of which I am a member., in the 31st Legislature of Alberta.
Joy L. Magnusson, Freelance Writer and Fifth Generation AlbertanI once opened an Alberta history book and saw my own great-grandfather staring back at me. Over a hundred years ago, when the government began campaigning to get immigrants to settle in Alberta by promising free land, people from all over the word eagerly responded. One was my Great-Grandfather Charlie, the ferryman I saw in the history book. The other was my Great-Great-Grandfather John, missionary and preacher. Both settled in the tiny town of Elk Point in Eastern Alberta and laid down the roots that became my family. Five generations later, we’re still here. I’m a freelance writer who has published several stories of my family’s history. I continue to be fascinated by it. So, this is my family’s Alberta story. We are descendants of the early pioneers. We are a part of this place, and it's a part of us.
Devika Short, Poet, Visual ArtistI moved to Edmonton from Toronto in 1978 and during that summer, I spent many magical weeks visiting Alberta’s breath-taking mountains in Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper. It was love-at-first sight for me. I liked living in Edmonton during the summer. But when the winter season arrived, I was not liking the coldness in this city. I realized my outdoor winter attire from the east needed upgrading. It was time for down-filled coats and fur-lined boots. When I visited Toronto the following year, I noticed the population increase and the busier highways. I returned to Edmonton with warm feelings of coming home. I have learned to like our cold winters by dressing in layers and I have learned to cross-country ski in our impressive river valley. I continue to visit Alberta’s mountains and my previous admiration of them has now changed to inspiration for my poetry and my visual art.
Pamela Clark, Home Is Where Your Story BeginsA life long resident of Alberta, I am a child of the prairies and remain in awe of the Rocky Mountain landscape outside my door. I am a proud Albertan who recognizes the strength of community connection and am amazed in my home city of one million Calgarians when I meet someone, who knows someone, who is connected with someone I know; I marvel at our small town feeling in a big thriving city. Listening to the radio connects me to my community and over twenty years ago, I first heard a first person narrative about the Internment of Ukrainian Canadians during WW1 at Castle Mountain. I listened intently, curious and shocked that I had not heard this Alberta story before. Through archival research and photo analysis, my novel, Kalyna, was born. I feel enormous gratitude that Kalyna found a home with my Alberta publisher and has reached readers across Alberta, Canada and internationally.
Cathie Crooks, Associate Director, University of Alberta PressI have been fortunate to have worked in publishing in Alberta for most of my career. I first worked with Reidmore Books, which published Canadian social studies books for students and teachers. For 25 years now, I have worked with University of Alberta Press, publishing both scholarly titles and books for general readers. I am proud of the books I have worked on.. Here are just some of them: Disinherited Generations: Our Struggle to Reclaim Treaty Rights for First Nations Women and their Descendants by Nellie Carlson and Kathleen Steinhauer; Keetsahnak / Our Missing and Murdered Indigenous Sisters, edited by Kim Anderson. Maria Campbell & Christi Belcourt; The Canadian Dictionary of ASL by Carole Sue Bailey and Kathy Dolby; Edmonton In Our Own Words by Linda Goyette and Carolina Roemmich; Annie Muktuk and Other Stories by Norma Dunning. Publishers in Alberta absolutely rock!
Jenna Butler, Author and TeacherI came to Alberta nearly forty years ago as a very young child. My parents were looking for a safe space to raise their mixed-race children, and although Alberta of the early 80s was a challenging province in which to land, Alberta today is an incredible place of interwoven stories. I've been very grateful to have found good friends, colleagues, and mentors across so many cultures here over the years. I've spent twenty-five years as a teacher in Alberta, and thirty-some as a writer, growing up within Alberta's strong literary community. That's the thing about Alberta: it's not just possible but very likely that your own writing mentors will become your colleagues one day, having held doors open for you and shared what they know. It's that kind of place, that kind of energy. My six books come out of the community and the land here, and lifelong dialogues about place and belonging.
Katherine Koller, AuthorI was born in Edmonton and have lived here all my life except for two years working as an editor in Toronto. I decided to move back to my home province, accepted a position at the University of Alberta Press, married, started a family and began writing radio drama for CBC. All the plays collected in Voices of the Land and most stories in Winning Chance are set in Alberta. Besides stage plays, I also write novels (Art Lessons is set in Edmonton) and short fiction, screenplays and libretti, songs and poems, creative nonfiction and history about Edmonton places. The land, in all corners of Alberta where I have spent time, and how it shapes us, continues to inspire my writing. I have worked as an instructor at the University of Alberta and at Maskwacis Cultural College, a writing coach and workshop leader, and continue to produce Edmonton Script Salon, a monthly new play reading series.
Ryschell Dragunov, Book DesignerI am the child of Acadian and immigrant roots. My parents were both military when they were first stationed in Edmonton. We lived here until I was 10, when my father, in his service to Canada, was posted to England, then Manitoba, and then, fortunately, back to Edmonton, where I planted my roots, built businesses and raised my child. Alberta has supported all the amazing learning curves on my career journey. From web development to trade show business, retail store ownership to graphic design. I am so grateful that Alberta has book publishers. I am establishing my dream career and find myself in a position where, in just under 2 years, 5 of the books I have designed are being submitted for awards. It’s fantastic to see how the creative and artistic world of Edmonton has grown and provides so many opportunities to entrepreneurs. I am grateful that book publishing is one of them.
Mandy Eve-Barnett, Creating A New LifeWhen my family emigrated to Canada in 2007, the hope was for a better life for the children. The vastness and variety of the country's flora and faun was our first surprise. What seemed a quick drive on a map was hours long! The subsequent years have been filled with adventures, exploring, cultivating new friendships, opportunities and hobbies. It took time to become immersed in the Canadian culture and traditions, but now we have made a life here. Personally, I found a new passion - writing, and a writing group without whose help, I would never have cultivated and succeeded in the literary arts. As for the 'children' - now fulfilled adults - life is good. Each of us has found our niche in our new surroundings, this young country, so different from our homeland.
Gisèle Villeneuve, AuthorAsk me not why I came. Ask me why I stayed. Calgary and the mountains. Calgary and the big light. The prairie even in the city. Wild animals, from magpie to castor, also live here. I became a writer dans les grands espaces that allowed me to discover my bi-langue voice. In Alberta, where Francophone literature does not (yet) exist, I can write à ma guise, free to create a land and a people not encumbered with a literary tradition to uphold. This land on which I write, mixing French and English, is a palimpsest. Here is the place where imagination is free to roam large and lavish. Ask me not why I came. (I may have forgotten.) What I know is why I stayed.
Linda MoreyI was born in SW Saskatchewan and moved to a ranch in SE Alberta in 1976. Those years were the time when most rural half ton trucks had gun racks in the cab behind their heads. Ranch/farm life was an idyllic one that comes with hills and valleys. The weather and the economy of the province and country was the decision maker when it came to harvesting of crops and selling of calves at the end of summer and into the fall. Then I married my husband who made a living in the oil patch in Southern Alberta. This too was a tough way to make a living as workers put in ridiculous hours and often stayed away from home when work was out of town. Good money with many sacrifices. Both industries worked well together, side by side. When one did well, the other industry usually did too. This proves that whether you have soil or oil running through your veins, we can all work together! We love Alberta!
Shenaaz Nanji, Shenaaz Nanji, AuthorThey say nothing happens in life by accident but … thanks to Alberta I became a writer. Accidentally. As a newly Immigrant mother in Calgary in the 1980’s in a visible minority population it was hard to explain our Indian - African heritage to my children. In desperation, I searched for relevant books at the book stores but came home empty-handed. So, I began to write for my children. Today I have 13 books published. Thank you Alberta! Your beautiful blue prairie sky with wide open space gave me not only space to live, but space to achieve things bigger than my dreams.
Neil Petrunia, PublisherI moved to Alberta in September of 1983, to be a Winter Cycle participant at the Banff Centre for the Arts, studying Photography under Hu Hohn. I didn't know the reason at the time, but I did notice that the traffic heading west was significantly lighter than the traffic heading east on the Trans Canada Highway. I was a politically oblivious young artist, and this was a stepping stone on my journey to be a great Canadian artist/writer back in Toronto. One year and out ... I stayed in Banff after completing my Winter Cycle studies. This was so I could continue working with Hu, as he and I were tinkering with programming Apple ][ computers to make conceptual art. Little did I know the places this would take me. I moved to Calgary, became a Graphic Designer, designed many books for Frontenac House, bought the company and am now Publisher. So much for one year in Alberta and out!
Ken Feser, My Alberta love storyI came to Alberta for a job, like most people I guess. It gave me a good living and all the things that come with that. Everything came pretty easy and easy means there isn't much of a commitment or depth of feeling. That changed for me with the Fort McMurray fire. In my work I was somewhat connected to the community and to the provincial response. I saw people hurting and in need. And I saw the whole province respond with assistance, concern and love. There were huge challenges, terrifying dangers, terrible sacrifices, and no easy solutions. But everyone did their best and did what was necessary, somehow. On May 6, 2016, I posted on Facebook: This week I fell in love with a hardworking, kindhearted country girl named Alberta.
Sandra Bilik, First Generation Canadian - Alberta BornMy parents emigrated to Canada from England in 1960, and my father started working on a farm in Southern Alberta upon arrival. Eventually, my parents moved to Central Alberta, and as a result I have been in Central Alberta for most of my life, with the exclusion of 15 years spent in Calgary, Alberta between 1984 and 2000. I grew up in small town Alberta, in and around Rimbey, and currently live in Lacombe. I love living in Alberta, knowing I can be in the mountains within a few hours from home, or by a local lake within 20 minutes. The rolling prairies and lush areas of Alberta make me smile and I love living here!
Colby Clair Stolson, Freehand Books, Sales and Marketing CoordinatorYou're born here against your will. You stay because a chinook tames your hair. Like many young adults, I dreamt of elsewhere. As an undergraduate, I set my sights high on grad school in Toronto. Grad school never happened because Alberta accepted me (i.e., I got a job in a field I love). One revelation I had that convinced me Alberta was my home, forever, happened in my bedroom. I moved in with some friends, and spent a good while thrifting furniture and décor to make my room a pleasant place to be in. When it felt complete, I was so happy with the colour palette: a sky blue, a bright golden yellow, a deep green. Then I went for a drive south down Highway 2, and found the colours I had inadvertently chosen for my bedroom reflected back to me as I kept my eyes off the road and on the big and beautiful prairies.
Brian Hades, President, EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy PublishingAlberta's rich cultural heritage and identity are beautifully woven into the captivating tales published by EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing. As one of the strongest communities of regional publishers in North America, Alberta's book publishers, such as EDGE, play a vital role in telling the province's story, both at home and around the world. Producing works by local, national, and international authors, EDGE has been a trailblazer in Alberta's literary scene for the past 26 years, capturing the hearts and minds of readers, educators, and the general public alike. Read more here.
Michelle Lobkowicz, Acquisitions Editor, University of Alberta PressI was born and raised in Alberta. My father arrived as a refugee in 1968 from former Czechoslovakia, and my mother is third-generation Edmontonian. In fact, my great-grandparents met working at the Princess Theatre: Henry was the projectionist and Eva played the piano for the silent movies! My mother and my grandfather both worked at University of Alberta, and I'm humbled and grateful to be working here as well, supporting scholars and writers from across the province, the country, and beyond. What I love about Alberta is our stories of resilience and determination, our creativity in community, and our prairie skies.
Faye Boer, President, Folklore PublishingBoth sets of grandparents came to Alberta from Poland in the early 1900s. My father's parents built a farm at the foot of the Livingstone Range in the Crowsnest Pass, one of the most beautiful landscapes in our province. My mother's parents attempted to farm on the dry lands of Southern Alberta before finally moving to the Crowsnest where the sons of the family worked in the coal mines. Both families worked hard to establish themselves and had large families to work the land or the mines. So, I come from a family of hard-working immigrants, and I will always be thankful that they chose Alberta as their home. My brother and I were some of the first of our generation to complete a university education, and from there and atop a previous life as a schoolteacher, I've built my own organization in Folklore Publishing, which to date has published more than 120 titles in various formats.
Lori Hahnel, AuthorRooted in Alberta I was almost eleven years old when my family moved to Calgary from Regina in 1974. Five years later, I was part of Calgary's first all-female punk band, and around the same time attended what was then Alberta College of Art. Later, I focused my creativity on writing; I have published three novels and two short story collections, fiction all rooted in Alberta to a greater or lesser degree. The stereotype of Alberta as a redneck petrostate desert bereft of any culture couldn’t be more wrong. We have a strong and thriving cultural life in this province: in music, visual arts, theatre, and literary arts, Albertans are innovators and award winners. Since 2019, more than ever before, the thought of leaving has crossed my mind. But after almost fifty years, I am rooted here by family and my writing community. I hope going forward, Albertans are supported to keep telling their stories.
Krista SiebelBoth sets of my grandparents came to the province during the oil sands boom in the late 1960's. The opportunities within the province provided not only job security but a community to raise their families, with the third generation following in the footsteps of their grandfathers, mothers, and fathers. Growing up in Northern Alberta provided the opportunity to experience so many things that are unique to the area, Indigenous culture, hunting and trapping, and a year-round outdoor lifestyle. Fast forward to living in Southern Alberta where there are endless fields and real cowboys. I've settled in Edmonton where the culture is vibrant and is unique onto its own. I’m proud to be Albertan and am thankful for the for the contributions of those who helped and continue to help preserve our culture and provide opportunities.
Cory Segin, Local Business OwnerMy grandparents came here from a poor, war-torn land to find a better life. They built homes and farms out of the cold, inhospitable prairie. All they wanted was a chance and the freedom to succeed or fail on their own merits. I'm proof that they succeeded.
Suzanne Trudel, Executive Director, Alberta Magazine Publishers AssociationI have deep roots in Alberta with my paternal family coming from a small Francophone community in the northern province. I honestly have never thought seriously about living elsewhere. I feel like I’m living in one of the best cities, in one of the best provinces, in one of the best countries in the world. The energy, opportunities, people and vibrant culture in Alberta have kept me sustained.
Peter Midgley, Author and EditorI came to Canada to study, leaving behind a country that needed to be re-imagined. Canada gave me the space to find my voice, and here I am still, helping to re-imagine this place through words and language … plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
Keren Tang, City of Edmonton CouncillorIf you want to live in a city, move to Toronto or Montreal. If you want to change a city, move to Edmonton." This ad in a Walrus magazine affirmed my move out west to Edmonton and Alberta where fresh thinking and energy are welcomed with open arms. It is in this community where I took my oath as a Canadian citizen, where I built relationships with diverse people, where I learned about my connection to this land, and where I now raise my child through this lens of shared heritage and cultures.
Bailey Oster, Director of Youth Programs and Services for the Métis Nation of Alberta
I come from a line of very proud Métis plains buffalo harvesters. My ancestors fought during the Red River Resistance in 1869-70 and subsequently moved permanently to Alberta where they hoped to live a life free from interference, and to be closer to their relations. We have been here ever since. I am a proud Albertan and proud to be Otipemisiwak (the people who own themselves; Métis).
Keri Mitchell, Executive Director, Theatre Alberta
I moved from Saskatchewan to Edmonton to study theatre at the University of Alberta's Department of Drama in 1999, when I was 18 years old. Aside from a wonderful year in Winnipeg in 2009, I’ve been here ever since. I’ve found two incredible chosen families here — the scrappy and inspiring Alberta theatre community, and The Mitchells/Petroskys, my partner Adam’s family who embraced me from day one more than 20 years ago now. We have a cabin on Muriel Lake where I feel most at home, because the landscape reminds me of my family’s dairy farm in Southern Saskatchewan. I’m a true Prairie girl, and proud theatre advocate.
Luciana Erregue, Publisher, Laberinto Press
My family and I emigrated from Argentina via Vancouver. We settled in Edmonton in 1997, where my husband became a professor at the University of Alberta. What I have loved about Alberta, and the Edmonton community in particular, is that I have managed to live three lives in one over a period of twenty five years. I was in succession a full time mother, a mature undergrad, a graduate student, a creative writer, and now, a publisher. Living in Alberta has made me believe that my horizons are as wide and all encompassing as the province's sky.
I arrived in Alberta with my parents and two siblings in the spring of 1957, our family emigrating from war-ravaged England in hopes of better economic opportunity. It took all my parents’ savings to buy passage to Canada so we arrived here with little more than the clothes on our backs. Today that family of five numbers 37 people, our members living across Canada and the United States. Our family includes a doctor, a registered nurse, a journalist, one corporate president, two teachers, a retired teacher, a marine biologist, a civil engineer, a former drag car racer and an airplane mechanic. Alberta has been, and remains, a province of opportunity. You can dream great dreams and entertain grand ambitions and, with sustained dedication and hard work, they can be fulfilled. My hope remains that this shall become true for all people who live here and who come here from elsewhere.
Alice Major, Author
I came to Edmonton four decades ago for a job that paid well; I had the full intention of scraping a little gold off the sidewalk and heading back east. But I stayed because I found a wonderful arts community here, which I could benefit from and contribute to. In Edmonton, I’ve written 14 books and become poet laureate, served on the Edmonton Arts Council, and started the Edmonton Poetry Festival. That arts community is even larger and more diverse now, even more energetic. It’s the reason many future passers-through will find themselves arriving and staying.